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Petros Georgiadis talks about his new short film ‘M.I.A.’ and the digital age

Greek-American filmmaker Petros Georgiadis chatted about his new short film “M.I.A.”

Petros Georgiadis
Petros Georgiadis. Photo Credit: George Patou
Petros Georgiadis. Photo Credit: George Patou

Greek-American filmmaker Petros Georgiadis chatted about his new short film “M.I.A.”

He served as writer and director of this short. The synopsis is: Rooted struggles surface between two strangers as they wander at night through the streets of Queens, New York. Together, they seek to regain control.

Inspiration for ‘M.I.A.’

“The movie was inspired by two very close friends,” he said. My friend Karina Vetrano was tragically killed in 2016. A few years prior, she had launched a website where she would publish poems and short stories she’d written over the years.”

“We had already adapted one of her poems into a short film and had been in talks to collaborate again. ‘M.I.A.’ was a poem she was passionate about and had been pitching to me but timing between the two of us never allowed us to collaborate,” he explained.

“Two years after her passing one of my best friends experienced a relapse after six years of sobriety. It was a very scary time, the idea of losing him was something I wasn’t ready to confront,” he said.

Georgiadis continued, “During the pandemic, my friend was going through a very difficult time and he would confide in me about his struggles, fears, experiences and challenges. I was compelled to write many of the things he was telling me.”

“Around that time, the anniversary of Karina’s passing was approaching and he was heavily on my mind. I found myself visiting her website and reading her poems and ‘M.I.A.’ stood out. Certain things the poem talked about and the words used to describe the story paralleled things Steven would say,” he said.

“Since these two friends of mine never had the chance to meet in real life, I asked myself a very simple question: ‘What if these two friends of mine who’d never met – had the chance to meet? But on the worst night of their lives’,” he noted.

“The idea started from there. I used certain elements of the poem to help design the female character in the film, Mia and I also took a lot of what Steven was sharing with me while he was in treatment and created Luke,” he explained.

“The film is as beautiful as it is thanks to my incredible friend and Director of Photography, Kenneth Keeler, someone who was by my side from the start. He took what I wrote and brought it to life in such a beautiful way that it amazes me still,” he added.

Motivations as a filmmaker

On his daily motivations as a filmmaker, he said, “Writing has always allowed me to express myself and was a big part of finding my voice, not just as an artist but as a person too.”

“Filmmaking allows me the beautiful opportunity to project some of my thoughts and visions and as a result further connects me with whoever is watching my films,” he said.

“It has been a surreal few years attending festivals or screenings where my work is featured and seeing how enthusiastic and moved audiences feel after seeing one of my films. To me, that is definitely a measure of success and total fulfillment,” he added.

The digital age

On being a filmmaker in the digital age, he said, “I’m still such a pen and paper kind of guy, I don’t even own an apple watch. As I work to establish myself in the business I am very aware of the influence the digital age and social media plays in everything.”

“While there can be many downsides to this, I find that filmmakers today have much more opportunities and platforms to showcase their work and be seen compared to three decades ago,” he said.

He continued, “With streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix and Apple TV, hosting content from independent filmmakers or how social media allows you the chance for a greater outreach of your brand, almost effortlessly, I believe that if you find the right angle and approach it the right way you can create an exposure that many in the past were not able to.”

Future plans

On his future plans, he shared, “The future definitely has many twists and turns I’m perhaps unaware of but my contribution to it is to continue to write, develop and explore stories that mean something to me and that can resonate with others.”

“I am currently in the early stages of my next film, a true story inspired by my mothers struggles when we migrated from Greece to America when I was little,” he said.

“I have been so blessed  and fortunate to build a team with some wonderful creatives who are also going to be a part of the future productions,” he added.

Greek heritage

He opened up about his Greek heritage. “I was born in Athens, Greece and lived there until I was nine years old. When my parents divorced, me and my sisters moved to New York closer to my mothers side of the family,” he said.

“Our Greek heritage was something that was always maintained in our household and that is something I am thankful for. Greek cinema has also been very influential in my own work,” he said.

“Watching films starring Aliki Vougiouklaki was something I enjoyed as a child living in Greece and something that I am currently revising as an adult with a creative eye. I have also been inspired by Greek Cinema thanks to a good friend, James DeMetro who is the founder of the Hellenic Film Society,” he elaborated.

“James has been so supportive of me and my work since my very first film ‘Running Out’ in 2013 and ‘Bardo’ in 2016. He has such an eclectic and wide array of tastes and every year he invites me to his events and I saw some incredible Greek cinema that I otherwise would not have had the chance had it not been for his organization,” he said.

Success

On his definition of the word success, he said, “The word itself is so subjective. I have dissociated the term from monetary gain and have realized that I feel most successful when a film that I have made has moved someone. And by moved I mean in the deepest, most humane way possible.”

“I will never forget when I released my first film I wrote, ‘Running Out’. The film’s theme was death and crossing to the other side. I had shared the film on various pages and groups on social media,” he noted.

“I will never forget comments and messages I was receiving from complete strangers saying things like ‘I am no longer afraid of death thanks to your film’ or sitting in a theater while another one of my films was screening and hearing audiences sniffle and see them wipe tears off their eyes,” he said.

“For me, those are moments that truly mean the most to me and they remind me of why I do what I do,” he added.

Advice for young and aspiring filmmakers

For young and aspiring filmmakers, he said, “The same advice I heard early on and that is to write from what you know. Write honestly and even if you are writing something that doesn’t personally relate to you, find something in the film that you can put a part of you into.”

“Whether it be a certain character trait that you share or even a single scene or moment that has occurred to you. Every one of my films has one or more parts of me in it. Also to write without worrying about ‘How am i going to afford to shoot this’,” he elaborated.

“Those are questions you should never be asking yourself during the writing process and it will become a bigger roadblock than you can imagine. Write the story first, worry about the logistics later,” he added.

Closing thoughts on the ‘M.I.A.’ short film

He concluded about the short, “For me, ‘M.I.A.’ is not just a film. It is a love letter to two friends of mine who I love very much and who have been such an integral part of my life.”

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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