Tigrane Minassian: The most challenging part is the writing process

Nice, South of France, 1978. On Christmas Eve, Annie receives a phone call from her daughter that left her years earlier to join a cult. With the help of the police, Annie has only a few minutes to find out where she is and save her from a mass suicide…

What are the most formidable challenges inherent to the profession of filmmaking?

I would say that everything is a challenge! But I think the hardest one lies in the writing process. This is where the essence of your film finds its roots, and a writer has to surmount self-doubt and narrative issues. It’s a treacherous, painful sea to navigate through.

Could you elaborate on the wellspring of your creative inspiration for this particular short film?

“Out of the Fog”, like many of my ideas, was born out of real-life stories. I was inspired by testimonies of former cult-members and their families that were torn apart by the mysterious absence of a loved-one. The documentary podcast series “Heaven’s Gate” was a goldmine of ideas and anecdotes.








Out of the Fog | Poster
Tigrane Minassian

Could you elucidate on the central thematic underpinning of your film?

There are two layers of themes in my film. The first one is the immediate one, related to cult indoctrination, the disappearance of a character’s Self, trapped in a psychological and spiritual maze. The second is a complex mother-daughter dynamic, where unexpressed love has slowly pulled them apart.

How do you navigate the task of strategizing cost-effective promotional efforts when operating within a constrained budget?

Depending on your project, it’s important to be aware of your budget constraints. Placing the money where it’s vital is key. If your short is meant to be a character study, don’t be shy to spend more budget on the right cast. If it’s VFX driven, put more money there.










In today's dynamic marketplace, how pivotal do you consider the role of film distribution?

Distribution is key! For feature films, it could be the difference between turning in a profit, breaking even, or not seeing a cent come back your way. The wider the distribution, the more your film can find an audience.

For individuals contemplating the path of self-distribution, what counsel or insights can you offer?

I’m no distribution expert, but for short films, what distribution really means is film festivals. It’s there that the film will have a career. Because a lot of festivals cost money to apply to, I think it’s good to budget that early on in the development process.

In your estimation, what level of significance do short films hold for aspiring filmmakers seeking to embark on a career in directing?

If the feature film is the playground with the older kids, the short film is the sandbox. It’s where you try things out, where you hone your skills as a director. They are crucial because they sort of allow error, which in no doubt will happen. Short films are great to learn the cinematic language.

Reflecting on your professional journey thus far, could you share an instance of the most formidable challenge you encountered and how you surmounted it?

I’d say the biggest challenge was patience! After shooting a bunch of amateur films as a teen, I spent roughly ten years trying to set up a first professional short film. But I trust fate: I was not meant to make that film before.

What, in your view, are the critical factors that contribute to the creation of a cinematic masterpiece?

To me, masterpieces are a combination of unpredictable factors: you find the right script, cast the right actors and enroll the right collaborators at the right time. It’s a team-effort. The best films are a blend of selfish obsession and collaborative openness.

If you could revisit the inception of your career, are there any aspects or decisions you would choose to alter in hindsight?

I’d like to say yes, but not really. The life I had shaped the person I am today. Not going to film school could’ve been a frustration, but in the end, it forced me to learn it all by myself and to gather the life experience necessary to lead an entire crew on a film set.
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