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The making of The Theater

To BIAFF 2015 results| To Full Making Of Index

At BIAFF 2015 Salome Tkebuchava won Best Under-16 Entry in the special competition for young people.
The heart of the film is how different characters understand the speech: "To be or not to be ..."
Still from 'The Theater'.

... growing up in a family where the atmosphere is impregnated with inspiration, creativity, and inventions, remaining a passive spectator could develop into an inferiority complex ...


I love snow, probably because I was born in winter in Boston. I also love the mountains and the sea, but that's because of the genetic code I’ve inherited from my Georgian ancestors. I began to shoot movies at 13. It can seem indecently early, but growing up in a family where the atmosphere is impregnated with inspiration, creativity, and inventions, remaining a passive spectator could develop into an inferiority complex.

A still from 'Bad Day'. My first short movie touched me with some success; Bad Day was nominated in or won various international film festivals, including winning the NATAS Student Awards (Emmy in the high school division). Encouraged by this I began to film my second movie, The Theater in 9th grade. [14-15 year-olds]

YoElena and Hamlet

Behind the scenes on 'The Theater'.The idea for The Theater came to my sister, YoElena, through a combination of events. My sister and I have always loved Shakespeare, and we have read many of Shakespeare’s stories and even watched classic film adaptions (Romeo and Juliet by Zeffirelli is one of my favorite movies!). Hamlet has always interested us the most, in which that one soliloquy has over centuries prompted many to wonder and question its meaning. [... to be or not to be ...]

At that time YoElena was going through a Shakespeare unit at our school. She was surprised by the various different interpretations of her fellow students about this one soliloquy. She questioned her own interpretation of the soliloquy and then mine, and after asking different people in our community, she realized that each person had different thoughts based on his/her health status, social status, economic privilege, age, and even initial emotional responses to the play. YoElena shared her thoughts with me, and I told her this would make a wonderful movie. She jumped at the idea.

Still from 'The Theater'.
Still from 'The Theater'.
Still from 'The Theater'.

Unlike my first movie, Bad Day, where my sister and I walked around like spy agents staring down each passerby to determine their capabilities of playing a certain role, this process was more organized. I put up several casting calls in multiple on-line resources and contacted actors from various websites.  YoElena and I would meet with each actor/actress and, we would decide if he/she made the cut. In the beginning I wanted to implement various types of characters ranging from different social standing, health status, economic status, personal views, or philosophical ideas, but in the end I had to cut out some of the characters as the movie would be too compact.


I thought I would have no (or at least fewer) problems in filming The Theater, but I had no such luck.

Behind the scenes on  'The Theater',Two days before the production, my gaffer called to tell me he wouldn’t be able to make it. I think I aged more in those two hours than in my whole life. At first I was devastated by the news and believed that all was lost. But I remembered my favorite heroine, Scarlett O’Hara (from Gone with the Wind) who vigorously fought through every hardship. After continuous calls, emails, and text messages I found someone— Aidan Macbain saved my movie.

But as any filmmaker, luck never seems to be on your side and the day before the shoot, the audio recorder called in sick. For that reason, in most shots YoElena, Aidan, or even I am holding the boom recorder.

During the production, our first conflict was with the air conditioner, which was buzzing incessantly and destroying the audio. My sister tried to find the custodian and after 15 minutes with no sign of her returning, we sent out the DOP, and then the gaffer after him. All of them were walking around the school searching for this one man who could solve the problem. In the end, my sister was successful at finding the custodian but he wouldn’t turn off the air conditioner. We ended up sealing the vents with found poster boards and masking tape.

Behind-the-scenes on 'The Theater'.I created the off-stage scenes so that the audience could take a breather from the dark auditorium, and more importantly, to give the professor some backstory and dimension before he stepped into the auditorium. Alas, we shot the hallway scene at least twenty times because the children attending summer camp at our school would interrupt yelling or walking into the shot, ignoring our warnings.

My favorite scene to shoot was the final scene where the spot light on each character goes off. My DOP was on one end of the theater, up on a ladder filming the scene, while I was on the other end with the gaffer, shouting out when each light should go off. I think we shot the scene fifteen times in total.


To my delight, the reaction of the audience towards my movie was adequate, or in other words: they all had various interpretations and reactions, just like in my movie. One aspect that I would add to my movie is adding wider and more diverse shots when the professor is performing. 

The Future

I love short films. One of my beloved writers is Borges, who didn’t write novels, i.e. long works, only short stories. Borges believed that a real narration lies in the story and it is impossible to finish any story, and I understand his fear: an impulse of an idea might be lost in a long novel.

It doesn’t mean, however, I will never shoot a feature film.

Portrait of Salome Tkebuchava at the editing screen.

 - Salome Tkebuchava

 Please don’t hesitate to contact me: savofilm@gmail.com
 Look at my website: www.savofilm.com

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Page updated on 05 April 2015
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