As the awards season approaches, the more notable films of the year start getting additional attention. One of those films that has been shortlisted for the upcoming Oscars is The Dress, an incredible film about a woman’s search for love amid loneliness and ridicule. We sat down with the film’s director, Tadeusz Lysiak, to speak about the film. Be sure to look out for more interviews like this, along with all that we have to offer, only on BitPix!
Q: Tell us more about your film. How did it come to be?
TL:I have been looking for an idea for my diploma film at the Warsaw Film School for a long time. I knew that I wanted to create a universal story about such emotions as love – or rather lack of love – loneliness, thirst, fear … And then I read an article on the Internet about people of short stature. I realized that such a hero would be an ideal medium for these emotions. This is how the idea for the heroine – Julia, was born, and this is how “The Dress” was born as a whole.
Q: What was your budget?
TL: Since “The Dress” is a student project, it is easy to guess that our budget was not too big. It’s a movie made of passion, a mission that we all had in mind. Most of the crew were young filmmakers, students who only came to the set because they wanted to co-create the story. This distinguishes us a bit from other short films, for example those on Shortlist. Of course, Warsaw Film School financed this film and supported us financially (together with the Polish Film Institute and DOBRO), but it still doesn’t change the fact that our budget was not too big and “The Dress” is a student project. The budget was around $ 10,000.
Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film?
TL: While exploring Julka’s mind and life, I understood a lot about myself. I was reminded of events in my life in which I was in need or was rejected. I looked into the femininity within me. I was not afraid to plunge into this sensitivity. It was a great emotional journey for every member of the crew to make this movie. We supported each other, we talked – we knew that what we were doing was meaningful and important.
Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?
TL: The biggest challenge was to fit in time. The script I wrote was too long (I know it now) and I wanted to do everything. Our limited student budget allowed for a maximum of six shooting days, and there were 52 scenes in the script … You can imagine how difficult this time was for us. Fortunately, I had a great production manager – Monika Ossowska, who put it all together and allowed me to finish the film. The second biggest challenge was the visual look itself – here my cinematographer Konrad Bloch came to the rescue. His sensitivity and his perspective allowed this film to become a universal story. We didn’t want to pay too much attention to Julia’s height, we preferred to look into her eyes, to look straight into her mind. That is why we avoided wide frames. We gave the film a documentary look, used a handheld and lots of natural lighting.
Q: What is next for you?
TL: I am currently working on my full-length debut. I managed to get interested in the project of a very large Polish producer. The working title is “Obsession” – it will be a psychological thriller that will also explore the recesses of the human mind, just like “The Dress”, but at the same time…it will scare you a bit.
Thank you to Tadesz for taking the time to speak with us, and congratulations for all the well-deserved acclaim. Be on the lookout for The Dress this awards season!