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article imageIlana Rein talks about 'Perception' film, Wes Ramsey and future Special

By Markos Papadatos     Sep 5, 2019 in Entertainment
Acclaimed director and writer Ilana Rein chatted with Digital Journal about her psychological thriller "Perception," starring Wes Ramsey ("General Hospital").
On writing Perception, she said, "My writing and producing partner Brian Smith and I were inspired while trying to get our sci-fi feature Out of the Everywhere through development. We ran into so many obstacles—and bizarre characters—along the way. We met several people who weren't the type of person they said they were, or the person they thought they were. They wanted us to believe they could help us based on empty promises or names they could drop."
"That experience would make a movie in itself. This inspired us to switch up the genre and make a film on a smaller scale, one that deals with the notion that reality is not always what we see: sometimes it's what we want to believe it is," she added.
Rein had nothing but the greatest remarks about working with actor Wes Ramsey as her male lead. "Daniel and Nina have challenging character arcs. Daniel is charming, but not exactly likable. It helped that Wes is both charming and likable. Nina does some questionable things, but she remains a sympathetic character. And Meera nailed that. We made sure to budget time for rehearsals so that we could get to the core of the characters. Not many films do that but it was really important to me to go deep with the cast."
Rein continued, "We wanted to work with classically trained actors and Wes, who trained at Juilliard, gave everything for the film. We had a couple of lengthy character meetings even before rehearsals and crafted a whole backstory to his character. It's not in the film explicitly, but it shows in his performance. I had similar sessions with the other actors, and then we all worked together so that we had a solid foundation going into some very tight time constrictions on set."
Each day, she is motivated by "caffeine, stories, and narrative." "Both making and experiencing them. We have such a strong need for stories in our lives. I know I do. They're a way to encounter the world in miniature, culture in a condensed form. That, plus films put things into an order that we can comprehend, or try to comprehend, without being overwhelmed. That sounds like escapism, but I think it's much more vital than that," she said.
"Movies are, for me, the most direct medium with which we experience these things. Also, when I was making a film in London several years ago a PA came up to me after we wrapped and she said she had never worked with a female director before in her five years on set. She said seeing me do it made her believe that she could do it too. I felt that was somehow more of an accomplishment than making the film," she elaborated.
Rein wants to be a positive force, especially for younger women are coming up in the arts. "I consider myself fortunate, and I still didn't have the easiest time: I endured some pretty serious obstacles along the way. I want to demonstrate that if you persevere you can get your work out there," she said.
On being a filmmaker in this digital age, she said, "My early experience with film was tactile. I shot my first film on Super 8 and used a guillotine splicer to edit with. I also used photographic film in the darkroom. I think working with digital has been incredible and I don't miss the chemical processes at all. What I do miss is the look of films on celluloid. It's great to know what you’ve captured immediately but I think it's still important to pause before putting the work out in the world."
"Social media makes it so easy to share what's going on-- sense experience by proxy. Tech makes visual communication demotic, but so much of that is disposable, offhand. It’s creative, evanescent creativity. Many people give so much of their creative work away to platforms like Instagram where people swipe by it in seconds. Art should slow us down a little bit. Not everything is an amusement park," she said.
On the impact of streaming services and technology on the entertainment landscape such as Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, she said, "I think they're great services, or potentially great. They are also overwhelming. I live in Los Angeles where every billboard here is about the latest series or film. The image might be ominous; maybe it’s intriguing. Maybe it comes with a list of accolades. It all kind of blends together."
For young and aspiring filmmakers, she encouraged them to "persevere and do not give up." "Write, photograph, make inspiration boards of how you see your film. Then make an appraisal of your resources. Make your vision line up with your resources. Bring them into scale with one another. Godard said, 'If you have fifty dollars, make a fifty-dollar film'."
"If you can, find at least one person you can totally trust, who can be a shield of sorts for you since you will meet many people who are just full of shit. They might not know it themselves and that’s often worse. Be strong. Be your own Ganesha. Filmmaking is collaborative. It's important you have a close friend or circle of people you can trust who will help you build out your whole team.
On her plans for the future, she said, "I’m working on a screenplay adaptation of a science fiction novel my father wrote in the 1950s. It was popular at the time and ended up being translated into seventeen languages. We are also focusing on my sci-fi film Out of the Everywhere."
For fans and viewers, she remarked about Perception," "It is a psychological thriller that draws its tension from the lengths people will go to believe what they want, and how far others will go to exploit those same desires. While creating this film, I was fascinated by the struggle between one’s beliefs and one's ability to question them."
"So many of our beliefs seemed fixed, not just our openness to the paranormal. How one views the power dynamics between men and women can completely alter how two people view the same situation. In our current culture, recognizing this gulf in interpretation seems more critical than ever to find mutual understanding," she said.
"Perception weaves a story of moral complexity that audiences may experience differently. Just as the character' interpretations of events inform their actions, audiences may be surprised to find their interpretation of the film's events is by no means universally shared. There is no right answer. Perception proves how belief, especially in the power of love, can make anything seem possible," she concluded.
To learn more about director and writer Ilana Rein, check out her official website and the [i]Perception[/i] homepage.
Read More: Digital Journal reviewed [i]Perception[/i] starring Wes Ramsey, which was described as "dynamic."
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