My cousin died. I thought I’m going to too. I’d better do what I’m dying to. I had always put off making my film. It was big and petrifying. I wanted my first semi-professional to be great. It was immature. Today, I am sure that this is not my best work. It doesn’t show all my talent but a part of it, it does. This is ridiculous to make your first film in 30 when you’ve wanted to do it since you were 20. And this is ridiculous that your cousin’s death has made you to. I dedicate this film, my first clumsy flutters after leaving the cocoon, to Elham, my dead cousin.
One day I looked at all the plots I had in hand and noticed that in all of them there is a woman who is stuck somewhere. She has no escape and is suffocating. It was not difficult to realize that this woman is me. however, unlike the others I was the one who ran away and made a film despite all the misfortunes. It may be ugly. it may be unprofessional. It may be technically weak and confusing in terms of content. But it is all mine. For the first time, I did not let perfectionism take the place of action. My big black egg finally broke.
I think that unlike a feature film, a short film should be like a poem. Full of metaphors and devoid of realism. I liked The Balls the best because it not only showed my taste and voice to some extent, but also it could be made with the available facilities.
This is the first time that a message is conveyed all by myself. A very different experience from being the writer only. The initial spark of the plot crossed my mind by reading the short story The Kidney–Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day by Haruki Murakami. The idea of a moving object revolved so much in my head that it eventually appeared in the form of an egg!
Since the very beginning, I wanted the final scene to be set in a composition similar to Death of Marat by “Jacques-Louis David”. This helped me think of setting up the previous scenes according to his other masterpieces, as well.
Photos emphasize it again that only a slice of reality is shown to the audience. Inspired from David’s works they all have beautiful compositions, so you only see beautiful short cuts. The interpretation given by the voice over is also only one point of view and probably the filthiest one.
One of my favourite subjects is the “guilty victim”. A character who has bad deeds, but not as bad that they deserve such punishment. I used the voice over as a tool to criticize and even attack the character. She is forbidden from what she likes and is criticized for not being good enough in what she does not like. The voice is deliberately loud, obnoxious and unnerving. It promotes an ideal: A delicate submissive weak woman.
The truth is so obvious that free people cannot even imagine the opposite. This is painful, but the voice doesn’t even shut up so that the woman can suffer or even die in peace. It is in our brains every moment to piss us off. Ironically it claims to be a she!
Although the woman is the only thing that is constantly seen inside the frame, I tried not to get too close to her private life. However, we see her in the toilet. Laying eggs is not a private matter but a social act. A manifestation of her creativity as a journalist along with her unstoppable fertility as a woman. By using “balls” and not “eggs” I tend to refer to the concept of courage and by the way feminize it.
No matter how hard you try to share life, it is a solitary journey. However, the woman picks up the phone until the last moment and dials hoping for a saviour. Although the ending of the film may seem bitter at first glance, breaking the egg is a spark of hope. Her ball may be hated or denied, but it exists.
Silent characters are my favourites. For this film, I needed some emotionless acting. Malihe did a good job. This is what the woman is; completely silent in response to the sufferings. She doesn’t cry. She doesn’t break anything. Her anger only manifests in her eggs. And finally, when she feels completely desperate, she only hurts herself.
In the establish shot, instead of a general open view, I have used a collage of several shots to both induce an impression of the space and grab attention. Also, by choosing a very wide frame and a close-up, I could show the actress in the most private place without depicting her head. With a similar motivation, I have filmed from below the actor’s neck in other parts of the film. However, removing the head as a seat of intelligence was also considered.
We start with a wide rectangle and long takes. It gradually gets to short and numerous shots; stuck in a suffocating square in which the woman is trapped in. The colour of the film changes from warm in cold because of the same reason.
Editing style that was like blinking turns into a quick blinking as the frame becomes a square. Like an unbelievable reality that becomes more unbelievable every moment.
I mostly used a white location because I wanted the protagonist and her original egg to be the only dark spots on the image. Similar to the prevailing perception that the society of the film world – and the voice over on their behalf – has towards such a woman. She is the Black Sheep. That’s why I claimed This film to be an everyday story.
I repeated the sound of water dripping many times throughout the film because I wanted to convey the feeling of water drops that slowly and continuously drip on a hard object so that they penetrate it despite their impenetrability. As the same thing happens in the final scene.
Football was just a repetitive element. Male players on the field and a man’s report on it! And this is the only possibility given to a woman for entertainment.
Iranian New Year (Nowruz) happens in the spring. (Makes sense, doesn’t it?) Haftsin, the related custom has different items. One is greenery that should be planted. It is also customary to tie a greenery knot to fulfil a wish. Another tradition is coloring eggs, which was meaningfully related to the theme of my film.
As far as possible, I have done all the behind-the-scenes, pre-production, etc. myself. As for the other work, almost all the group were my friends and they did not get paid. I only covered the cost of renting the equipment and the salary of the sound engineer by selling a gold bangle of my mother.
Being a student and working on a master’s thesis, as well as unforeseen events and conditions, caused the editing process and the releasing to take too long. Least thing I learned from this experience was that, contrary to my initial idea, to lower costs, professional agents should be used, insted of amateurs!