IN CONVERSATION WITH TOPAZ PERETZ: LA-BASED FILM DIRECTOR, WRITER & PRODUCER
1.) Welcome to The London Musings! You have lots of exciting things in the pipeline What are you working on next?
Well, I’m shooting Dollhouse, a psychological thriller this Spring and also The Big Bloom, an environmental documentary, which we’ve been in production since March 2018, and will wrap up this summer. Next year Tainted is scheduled for Spring, and a period war hero piece that I can’t currently disclose, in 2021.
2.) “Tainted”…tell us more!
The Proof of Concept was a success. It’s set to shoot in Spring 2020, and it’s going to cause a controversial commotion.
3.) How can a story like this make a difference?
The whole point of making this movie is to make a difference. Pedophilia is such a taboo subject, that it is never looked at, and therefore, is allowed to go on. I want to grab it by its core, expose how something like this can happen in the first place, and how we can make the move to halt this epidemic.
4.) What drew you to telling this story?
When I realised I knew barely anything about this matter and how shocking the statistics are. I went on to do two and a half years of primary, secondary & tertiary research. I’ve interviewed two perpetrators, two victims, and a family member of a perpetrator. I’ve become an expert on the horror. It’s a curse to know the horrors of the world, but a blessing, to know how to deal with such a matter, and that’s what I want to share with everyone - the blessing.
5.) I know the film started out as a short. Did you always envision it as a feature? Or did you decide to expand it once it received such a positive reception? How did that process work?
The Proof of Concept was always there to bring interest for the full feature. It’s a tough topic, so the short was brought to tickle the waters, and see if it would catch a bite. Fortunately, it caught so much, and the excitement for it keeps booming, which is humbling in itself.
6.) So currently, you’re in pre-production with a film entitled ‘Dollhouse’? How’s it going?
Yes, it’s going wonderfully. Working closely with DDI is a great experience, and the writer Anna McLain has done a wonderful job with the script. It’s a psychological thriller, and it’s an enchanting one at that. “It all starts with the script.”
7.) When do you know a script is ready to shoot, and what is your process of getting it there?
If you start nitpicking at it. It’s done. Leave it alone. Personally, my writing process is different for each film. Sometimes I base it all on facts, which always takes longer, as I want to do the topic justice, and so, I must map it all out. All of a sudden, all the walls in my house look like an unsolved murder case a deadbeat police investigator just won’t stop working on.
Other times, it’s all already mapped out in my mind, and I just can’t stop typing - This can be a little dangerous, since I must remind myself: “You know, food exists. Go eat”. Regardless, the most important part of writing, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, is rewriting. Obtain brilliant opinions, get the script in other people’s hands. Criticism is key. Take it in. Reevaluate. Take a break from the script, work on another, come back to the first one after a few months. You’ll see plenty of mistakes you didn’t before.
8.) I often wonder why anyone would want to direct. Why would you want to always have 100 decisions in front of you and have over 100 people waiting on your answer?
Well, it was once said to me, that on average, a Director will be asked 600 questions per day on set. At first, I was overwhelmed by this statistic, but then I realised, that every film I’ve directed, I never noticed the question load, the same when producing. Every question asked is important and most tend to actually be imperative. I do not see them as a burden, but rather, moments of gifts from my crew, that enable narrative success for a film.
9.) Director, Writer & Producer? Sounds like a heavy workload!
Yes, it definitely is if you take on all three rolls for a production. I’ve done it before, and I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s just such a tremendous workload. I like to play different heads with different productions. I do tend to direct everything I’ve written. I tend to produce the films I haven’t written, and every blue moon, I direct films I haven’t written too. I think that every production has its own equation that works for it, and I like to use my different filmmaking abilities that works best for each equation.
10.) When on set, how does your role affect how you view the production as a whole? Does your perspective change greatly based on your title?
Absolutely. When writing, I just let my imagination take me, like the words are my sugar, and my appetite is insatiable. When producing, it’s all about networking, and creative ways to obtain what’s needed for the production. Haggling is needed, but charm is key. You see, when writing, I’ve transformed into an introverted hobbit, where the concept of leaving my cave, and into the light seems like torture. Whereas, when Producing, I put on my extrovert cloak, grab my business background potion, mix it in with some mathematics & social skills and get to work. Directing, on the other hand, well I don’t need any of that. It seems natural to me.
I see everything from hindsight and it’s just the same as being a painter, being able to notice each individual detail, and what’s needed for it, whilst also taking that walk back, and seeing the full framed picture as a whole after every handful of brushstrokes.
11.) What, in your opinion, is the most important quality in a Film Director?
Charm. Just charm.
12.) What would you consider is your style?
I suppose it would be bringing a different perspective to a situation. Make a topic that may feel old, completely new, or take something so taboo, and show the normality of it. Perhaps my style grows with each production. Perhaps, my style is not for me to decipher, but the audiences.
13.) How did your love for movies get sparked and what can we (as a community) do to help others discover a similar pleasure?
I suppose it’s the same as a book. You get to live other lives, experience other thoughts and learn new things. It’s about living, and being open minded to others. There is no other magic that can immerse a person in a completely different life & world, than a movie. There is no greater ability than being able to change someone’s mind, and isn’t it fantastic, that a movie can do such a thing?
14.) Does being a part of the LGBT Community hinder your progress in the industry?
It truly doesn’t. In fact, it’s actually helped and still helps. One thing about being a part of this community, is that others in it, will lift you up with them, and it’s a beautiful thing.
15.) So you’ve travelled quite a bit. Where have you travelled, and how does that influence your work?
Oh I love travelling. It’s a way to open your mind, experience different lives, live different cultures and understand different ideologies. What may be rude in one culture, is polite in another. What is moral in one, is immoral in another. It’s all rather fascinating, and has brought a lot of intellectual flavours to my cells. I feel that if you can travel, it’s imperative that you do. It’s brought me an array of different spectrums and perspectives which I love to incorporate into my work.
16.) Do you think you have a unique perspective, coming from three different cultures, Israel, Indonesia and England?
I never really thought about it, but I suppose so. Each country has its quirks. I suppose it is quite funny that I have a Jewish Father, Muslim Mother, and placed in a Catholic school in North London.
17.) Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture?
I absolutely do see this as a major responsibility. People tend to take movies for their word and so there should be a strong element of truth in a movie. Movies, regardless of it’s genre relates to real life and real stories, so wouldn’t you find it imperative to do a story justice to its topic, message and/or culture?
Follow Topaz, her work and upcoming shows / news at www.topazperetz.com!