Interview with Cristina Siddu and Madeline Doherty, directors of “Intersect”

We recently got the chance to review the terrific short film, “Intersect“, a tense psychological thriller which had a great twist and was an intelligent, thought-provoking film. To find out more about the film and what inspired Cristine and Madeline to take on the thriller genre, we asked them a series of questions. Please find them below.

Could you provide our readers with some background into who you are and your short film? How did the idea/story evolve? 

We grew up together in the suburbs of Chicago with a strong affinity for the film industry. Everything from the logistics of casting, how a film score comes in conjunction, the acting process, and so forth has interested us since before I can remember. We would watch a film and spend hours researching the director, actors, watching behind the scenes clips online, anything we could get our hands-on.

Every year, on Oscar Sunday, we’d both would be texting each other back during the show. We wound up being late to school the following Monday due to staying up late watching the post winner interviews. Then we’d go back and forth actively debating which films and performances we liked or disliked.

This film, in particular, developed from how the horror genre captivated us throughout the years. We contemplated a couple, from our perspective, compelling ideas until finally writing out something that felt authentic in the sense that we would want to watch this short film ourselves. 

What were some challenges you encountered when shooting and how did you overcome these? Short films often prove to be just as complicated as features (speaking from own experience here! Fellow film graduate here!). 

We confronted many obstacles during production. In hindsight, the team we built around us was so talented and proficient that every time there was a potential or unexpected challenge in front of us, it dissolved quickly. For example, the strong winds and rain you see in the film’s last sequences, we continuously hoped would not happen. At this point, we had been shooting 10 hours straight, and the stress of getting behind on schedule was kicking in. However, the lighting team sprang into action, creating an entirely new set within an hour, recreating the front doorway on another part of the location. It was their initiative, along with the entire crew’s positive attitude towards the whole situation that saved the last portion of the film. 

Colour seems to be a major part/theme throughout your film. What was the decision and/or influence behind this? What messages/emotions did you want to convey with those particular colours? 

Colour does play a considerable role in the film. Utilizing an aggressive colour aesthetic was vital in conveying the purgatory, one of the characters is facing, in a literal sense, as well as symbolically. The palette used, not only to motivate where and what the audience will, hopefully, be drawn to on-screen as well as manipulate audiences’ emotions. The electric blue hues represent innocence, calmness, and sanity. As you see, blue is weighing in the background and outside the home. As the film continues, the electric blue deepens as the calm and innocence fade until the final scene, where the blue is no longer, and you only see the pitch-black sky.

The Magenta identifies with unbecoming and immoral energy. The opposing colours stay disconnected until they meet at the first interaction our characters have. Once that door (no pun intended) is open, the colours along with our characters combat until the very final scene. 

What was it about the psychological genre that seemed appealing to you? Did you draw from any psychological thrillers as a form of influence? 

Cristina: The exhilaration of a great thriller is a feeling like no other for filmgoers. You are on the edge of your seat while your mind is always wondering what is going to happen next, while the uncertainty of not knowing when. We had seen enough thriller and horror films to know what we like and don’t like, so when it came down to writing our thriller, we knew what we would want to see from it. One particular film that inspired our film was “The Strangers”. I don’t think there’s a more gut-wrenching feeling than when an unfamiliar individual knocks on your door in the middle of the night, and that’s where the real inspiration developed—the discomforting anticipation not only for the characters but for the audience as well.

Madeline: Suspense, mystery, and horror appeal to me more than any other genre. The adrenaline that kicks in is pure fun, in my opinion. On a more serious note, I believe psychological dramas/thrillers evoke real fears and emotions within audiences that other genres cannot deliver. There are such intense energy and emotional response drawn from these films. Some of my favourites are “Primal Fear”, “Mystic River”, “Silence of the Lambs”, “Seven”, “Cape Fear”, and “Gone Baby Gone”.

What would you like the audience to take away from their viewing experience of your film? And have you received any feedback/reactions that have surprised you? 

We want audiences to have a fun time watching; this film caters to an audience that enjoys heart pulsing suspense. We were told quite a bit by our audience that seen the movie that they perceived it as supernatural. The feedback was such a pivotal part of the post-production for us because we were able to use certain aspects of colouring and sounds to envoke these new meanings upon our characters. It was gratifying to have our audience give us such a thought-provoking assessment. 

And lastly, who are your favourite female filmmakers and are there any films you’ve seen recently that you want to recommend. 

Cristina: Kelly Fremon Craig (Edge of Seventeen), Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere), Lulu Wang, (The Farewell), Mary Harron (American Psycho), and I recently came across a fantastic female writer and director, Minhal Baig (Hala). If you haven’t seen “Hala”, I highly recommend it. The film follows a young female Muslim-American through the pivotal moments of her life and having to endure the consequence of pursuing a different version of her life than what her parents envisioned. It’s raw and authentic, and it’s one of the first films in a long time with which I had a real connection. All these extraordinary women have inspired me in the way I view films and appreciate them as well as influence in the way I write.

Madeline: Of course, the immediate names that come to mind are Katheryn Bigelow (the Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) and Mary Harron (American Psycho). An Austrian film called Goodnight Mommy (2015), directed by a directing duo that includes Veronika Franz, is another great female director. I loved that film and the very chilling energy it still leaves me with today.

One movie I am dying to see is “The Assistant”, directed by Kitty Green, the following harassment in the workplace following the #MeToo movement and demise of Harvey Weinstein. My cousin saw the film at Sundance this year and said it was her favourite screening by far. If you haven’t seen the 2016 film “Raw” directed by Julia Ducournau, put that on your list for sure, super intense and gritty.

To find out more about INTERSECT, please click here. You can also follow them on Twitter here.

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