In our continuing tradition of interviewing performers, writers, and artists from different genre, Tahyna Tozzi-MacManus tells us about her new film project – Oren (“From The Mud Grows the Lotus”), the inspiration behind it, and how it is all finally coming together.
First of all, tell us about Oren itself – the basic plot idea, the characters, the size of the production, etc.
Oren follows the story of protagonist Emile and a special encounter she has with a homeless man named “Oren.” Emile is in the deepest darkest place of the human condition, and the story follows how her life is forever changed through these encounters. This film has grown
beyond my original expectations already. On a production level, it will be smaller than most big blockbuster films of Hollywood but my team around me - including my incredible executive producer Kai Lillie, my cinematographer Larkin Donley, my editor Nicholas Monsour, and my
amazing lead actress Tabrett Bethell - will no doubt bring full creative force to the final film. This is still considered a “short” film but with full narrative to hopefully draw, hold, and inspire our audience.
We would love to hear about the creative process behind the film. In other words, where (or when) did you get the inspiration for it, and how long did it take for the vision to transform into a screenplay and then into a viable film project?
I perhaps wasn’t in the best state of mind when I originally came up with this idea. I had this inner monologue on repeat in my head, and for some unknown reason it was actually something my husband said to me that inspired me to write down those dark thoughts. It was kind of terrifying and liberating all at once.
I wrote through this character Emile and every thought she was feeling. I gave her routine. I really wasn’t sure where I was going as it was coming out of me, and then I remembered something profound that had happened to me in the past and hence Oren was born. From that moment it didn’t take me long at all. I let a few trusted friends read my first draft and everything kind of snowballed from there. As far as the actual film process, I really had no legs to stand on at all. I knew I wanted to make this film and tell Emile’s story but lucky for me my now producer Kai read the first draft and gave me the confidence and belief in myself that I could do this. I also annoyed anyone and everyone I ever met in the film biz and picked their brain apart.
Writers, as artists, create in different ways. What about you? How do you create your art? Are you one of those who write/create when the inspiration hits you or do you set a schedule for yourself that you strictly adhere to?
Um - I don’t know. I am very much a time management person and like to think I can plan out my day creatively but that’s a lie. I seem to write and get inspired at the most odd times. Usually when I see something tragic or something dark happens - isn’t that awful? But it’s the truth….. On the flip side, the more I immerse myself in other people’s work - whether that be music, dance, film or written - the more I am inspired in my own.
Do you have other projects in the works – either in the preliminary planning stages or perhaps just requiring some finishing touches?
I have two feature film scripts that I would like to get off the ground this year - one’s a comedy. Believe it or not I do have a sense of humor. The other is years in the making with another friend who is an actress and looking to branch out as well. It’s still a very female driven plot. I think that’s my theme - haha. I am also working on another feature concept with another Irish writer, Karl Harpur; Tristan has been throwing in a few ideas too. Constantly working on different things!! We have a super group of creative friends around us - another is Marc Cleary who Tristan has been working with a lot. We have been discussing several ideas to put into motion.
Finally, tell us about the Kickstarter campaign and how supporters of the arts can go about helping with this project.
Kickstarter is an amazing platform for artists to have their work seen and supported. It’s a big wide world out there and often in filmmaking or the world of entertainment decisions are made by head honchos, and art that was once yours is no longer. I guess Kickstarter and other such platforms are a rebel’s way of creating. Any support is appreciated as it just brings us that little bit closer in the belief of our own voice and work.
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The Oren Team
Writer and Director: Tahyna Tozzi-MacManus
Starring: Tabrett Bethell
Producer: Kai Lillie
Cinematographer: Larkin Donley
Editor: Nicholas Monsour
Production Designer: Govind Rae
Art Director: Dustin Wright
For more information on Oren – “From The Mud Grows the Lotus”
Kickstarter Campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2036175796/oren?ref=email