Now Reading: Portrait of Sayna Fardaraghi: An Indie Filmmaker on The Rise


Portrait of Sayna Fardaraghi: An Indie Filmmaker on The Rise

July 17, 201911 min read

Indie films have for long been a cherished genre by many film enthusiasts around the world. Whether presented in the usual coming of age format or the romantic flick, it has been molded into different shapes through the years. It is however with no doubt that the American filmmaker Wes Anderson, known for his distinctive visual and narrative styles impacted the genre in a tremendous way. His attention to the smallest details and his passion for lambent colors made him the prime symbol of Indie films and it’s subgenres. This style has seen many new filmmakers rise, and very recently, the talented Sayna Fardaraghi, a young aspiring art-director who through her work on Youtube and other social platforms, attracted a lot of attention on her short films, most prominently L’observateur, which through a French narration and a pink palette, tells the story of a girl and her beloved binoculars. Avid to know more about this side of the cinematic world, she kindly accepted to give me some answers to my curiosity.

Extract from L’observateur (2019)

Affinity: Hey! Thank you so much for giving us this interview. First of all, can you present yourself in a few words?

Sayna: Thank you for having me! 

My name is Sayna Fardaraghi, I’m a 20-year-old filmmaker and artist based in Brighton, soon to move to London to study contemporary media & film. I spend lots of my time watching short films and visiting art galleries with my friends, this is where I get a lot of inspiration for my future projects. I hope to someday use my platform to create a space for like-minded artists, and to create a community where young talent share ideas and collaborate with one another.

A: Can you tell us more about your most recent project L’observateur? How did you come up with the idea of the short film?

S: Well, over the past year, I have spent 40 minutes everyday traveling on the train to University and back, and whilst doing so I managed to meet and encounter lots of interesting people on the train. It made me realize I’m quite an observant person and love to notice the little things in other people, the simple details and quirks that make us different. Whether it’s the way we sit, our facial expressions, what book we like to read or what music we listen to. I remember one day whilst on the way to uni I found the Instagram account @subwayhands which made me realize I’m not the only one who is an avid people watcher, so I took to Twitter & Instagram to ask if other people observe those around them, and what they often notice. After receiving lots of funny stories, I decided to turn my idea into a little film for my 3-week university project and try to show others the beauty and charm in looking for the little things in life that always surround us, yet often go unnoticed. I hope to someday make L’Observateur much longer because there are some really, really funny stories out there!

A: What other directors, films or TV programs influenced this film?

S: Of course, the biggest influence for this film was Moonrise Kingdom (2011) by Wes Anderson. Wes’ films have always had such a massive impact on me, particularly due to the close tie between film and art direction in his work, which is a field that I’m really passionate about. In a way, L’observateur was a love letter and homage to his work.

Alongside that Amelié (2001) and Daisies (1966) were particularly influential too, both having women as the main protagonists and portraying them as carefree and curious, which is a common theme I explore in all my work, I think its important to not take things too seriously, and to make your audience notice the little things and smile!

Extract from L’observateur (2019)

A: Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was beyond a hobby for you? 

S: It’s hard to explain, but my friends and I always talk about how everyone has their own “thing”, almost like their own identifier. Its what they’re passionate about and what comes naturally to them, and so you always see them doing something surrounding that. For me it’s always been art in different forms, but when I started experimenting with film I realized that was the strongest feeling of excitement I’ve had when making something, and that my friends also saw that in me. That’s sort of when I realized I should pursue this and make it more than just a hobby!

A: What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

S: Shockingly enough, I think it was to be brave and to believe in myself. I’ve always had trouble with putting myself but also my work out there, because once you make something it becomes a part of you, and is quite scary to show it to the world. So when it came to uploading the film and making it available to Letterboxd I was absolutely terrified, however with a little bit of courage, I managed to allow my film to be shared and seen by many people, and thus received a lot of positive feedback which I’m very happy about! It’s a scary leap, but it’s worth it, and getting your work seen is very important.

A: If you got the opportunity to remake a classic, which one would you go for?

S: Oh it would definitely be death becomes her, if that counts! It’s such a fun film that doesn’t take itself too seriously, id love to take a crack at it and have my own little twist!

A: What roadblocks did you face when you were starting out your projects?

S: Resources, resources and…… yep resources! Since I don’t go to film school at the moment, I’ve struggled with access to studio space and kit within all my projects, which of course has always ended up making the creating process difficult.  However, I’m very grateful to have faced those challenges, because it has allowed me to persevere and think of creative ways to work around those roadblocks. Of course, it can be very stressful, but I firmly believe that it ends up making the final product feel so much more fulfilling, knowing that you found a way to go around challenges and still ended up creating something you’re proud to call yours.

Extract from L’observateur (2019)

A: As a young filmmaker, where do you see yourself in a few years and in the movie industry? 

S: Gosh that’s a scary question! Honestly, I have no clue, it’s hard to envision the future because 3 years ago I never for a second thought I’d be where I’d be today. I must say, I hope to be creating a longer film alongside talented people in the industry, but also to get into more editorial work which is the experimental stuff I absolutely adore. I’m really inspired by Nadia Lee Cohen and Bardia Zeinalli, id love to someday do the things they do and working in more fashion-based films, going all in with the visuals!

A: What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a filmmaker?  

S: Don’t let the lack of resources stop you, ever! You don’t need the best camera or the best editing software in the world to create the best things in the world, it’s your ideas and your style that matters most. Also, you can never go wrong with planning! Make lots of storyboards, and list all your ideas, no idea is too small 🙂


Check out Sayna’s work around the Internet:

Shop / Instagram / Vimeo / Website / Youtube

Featured image provided by Sayna Fardaraghi

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Hania Def

Hania Def is a writer who enjoys broadway shows, music, all things literary, cinematography and painting. She lives in Paris, France, where she attends law school. Email her at: [email protected] or find her at: @regrttes on twitter