Ambitious, ambiguous yet accesible and down to earth, Athina Tousia, is undeniably one of the most promising up and coming young filmakers of Greece. Ever adapting and fully aware of today’s demands, she seems to go for it without losing that artistic feel, be it eccentric or provocativ. With those elements in mind and with a growing number of bands under her name, that are actually too many to mention we gladly took the chance for an interview. Here’s the outcome.’’
Hello and thank you very much for this interview. As a starting point, please share a brief portrayal of yourself. Which are your fields of specialization regarding video making?
Hello Lefteris and Subexistance, thank you so much for the interview! Well, I specialize in making music videos and my basic roles are: writing, producing, shooting, editing, color grading and directing the whole thing. I also used to make short films when I was in college but now I don't. Now as for the brief portrayal : I enjoy playing video games, buying cosmetics and shoes. In my spare time (almost never) I try really hard to write a book and make a feature film. I like coffee, nicotine and junk food. When I am not in a good mood, I dream of the scientific career or the rockstar career I never started. Forever a goth.
What is that you envision in a particular moment that makes you want to capture it? When do you know you have that one ‘perfect shot’?
There is no perfect shot, sadly. But after following the rules for years I hope I can now speak with the camera more intimately. Most of the time I use storyboards. On set, I can't explain it, I just frame and when I feel okay about what i see, I press record.
Tell me a bit about the development process for the movies you have done? Were there any particular influences – be they filmic or otherwise – that you use as ingredients in your visual and musical palette?
All the movies were done as film school projects. I start with the images, story is next. I work with symbols, that's how i develop something. Sometimes I just see some photographs, watch a film, listen to music, read a book or smell something, and then I don't know, something comes to mind. The latter becomes an atmosphere and later a form. Next step is to write it down, plan it and watch it in my mind. Then I make the phone calls to arrange everything, and start rehearsing, shooting etc.
You have mentioned music quite some times so far. What’s the role of music in your movies?
There are moments when music creates images for me. But whenever the films's composer writes something about an idea of mine, I accept it as it is. This is the nature of our work, accepting different perspectives as elements and turn that artistic collaboration into something specific, like a film.
Is there a particular technique you would like to induce to your future video endeavors?
It's not a technique, it's an aspect. I wish I could do something slower that I would really enjoy but speed makes me happy (lolz). No seriously, I want to use rhythm and speed to their full potential. And of course become better friends with the lighting aspect.
Apart from shooting the videos, mostly, if not all the time, you hold responsibility for the script as well as the direction. Do you have a specific vision that is given birth when the shooting takes place or you are solely based on technical knowledge?
The most basic thing in low budget productions is the love that we share about what we are going to do. In a big production some things are arranged to be done but when you try to do something alone, or with not too many people to help you, you have to measure the energies and maybe equalize them to make the setup work.
I try to plan everything before the shootings in my mind and on paper. Then, the day of the shootings, I follow my plans to a good degree I believe. The rest of it happens at this moment while I am so focused that I come home with bruises which I don't even remember how I got.
Some things may not work as planned so I have to maintain temper and get a solution. so pre-planning helps.
At the end of the day some of the best parts, are the ones that just happened by accident.
Is there any particular director or artistic movement that excites and inspires you? An artistic refuge that you find yourself attached to.
If I don't try to keep it simple from the start I will be writing for ages and get really serious which will not be pleasant.
Revolution, breaking the laws, adding to the filmic language inspires me. Maya Deren has inspired me ever since I was in film school. She broke the laws, she revolted. David Lynch has done so, as well as Luis Bunuel, Jean Cocteau and Alexandro Jodorowsky. I can't speak of a specific artistic movement, just about revolutionists. So let's call it experimental.
On the other hand, I love horror films, especially Asian directors like Sion Sono and Miike Takashi. I love the atmosphere, the imagery, the depth that the characters develop in horror films and the use of shock value for social commentary.
I am also a big fan of German Expressionism, because of the emotions, the image and the whole awesomeness.
And of course, the Wes Anderson films which are so funny in a beautiful and modest way.
Non filmic movements that I feel familiar with are the following: Surrealism in all of its aspects because it's a form of liberation, the Dada movement, because it's a form of revolution. Minimalism generally makes me happy because it's full of things important.
Besides horror novels, psychology and crime novels, I also enjoy folklore tales and mythology, I love the images, the plot in them and the depth that the stories eventually got though the years.
I also like to study Fashion and Architecture, how everyday life can get prettier, that is a refuge for me.
Music Videos are also a form of art, even if they, most of the times, have a clearly commercial use their language is really really intriguing.
You have such a wide variety of influences, yet I see you leaning more towards music videos and less in actual movies. Is that a conscious decision? Keeping in mind that they are more of a commercial form of art as previously stated.
Life brought me here haha. I am actually planning a feature film and some shorts but the problem is, there is no time. If I start it I will have to be devoted to it completely. I have always enjoyed fast and non linear editing, completely driven by music, colors, symbols and not based so much on a traditional storyline so I guess it was expected. It has to do with the type of the language that I am more familiar with.
How do you settle upon the film’s location? Does shooting prove challenging depending on the location?
Location is an actor. And as with actors, you have to feel safe with them. Therefore, I choose locations which i feel familiar with, and where I feel I won't be bothered. Of course, this opinion has been formed from ugly stories, that now hopefully belong to the past.
Any particular personal experiences that seem the most standout?
Nothing special here. Stories intense to experience and boring to narrate. I will probably write a book about them one day called “The memoirs of a guerilla filmmaking soldier” or something like that (lolz). Stories include: Police and security people, angry neighbors, broken electricity in the middle of nowhere in complete darkness, a broken camera in the middle of nowhere, shooting with active BPPV and neck brace, shootings with a fever and of course being on a hurry due to occasional tardiness. Totally normal stuff for low budget productions.
What are your plans for the future?
Raise my skillz and gear. Become better and faster. Create a network of passionate and trustable people. Work as much as I can and be creative. Also, since I definitely do not plan to get really sick soon, I hope I can work with people that believe in and love what we do. Money isn't everything as long as the money isn't lots of money. Furthermore, make a feature film, travel the world. Also start a pop star career or own a castle or become a neuroscientist. Also get involved in charity more seriously. I don't know, do something that counts actually.
Thank you very much Athina for this interesting interview of yours. I hope your longing for this much anticipated rockstar career is not far out of the window!
"WTF. I'm never the ghost I'm always the pacman" (2010)
-Facebook profile: www.facebook.com/athina.tousia
In the links above you can find links to all of the music videos she has shot and directed, as well as her films: