Alexander Farah directs ‘Meet You At The Light’ for Desirée Dawson.
Words from Alexander below.
Could you talk us through your pre-production process with the cast?
I had trouble finding the parents for these roles — finding brown parents at this age are always a challenge (I had the same problems on my first narrative short, Sahar, years ago). After a few missteps, I decided to ask the lead if her own dad would be interested. She reluctantly said she’d ask him, but I sensed the hesitation. I decided to meet Ishaval and her dad Kamaldevinder in person to assess the chemistry and comfort level. After a very brief meeting, I knew there was a lot to work with, it would just require a strong level of commitment to create the space for their relationship to take shape and unfold (on and off screen). We met weekly for six weeks. After each session, I sensed a closeness developing between both of them.
Is there ever a danger of being over-rehearsed?
I think if you’re *just* rehearsing the material, yes. I’m often weary of this and plan for other material to workshop, that feels like it exists in the same world; scenes that may be off camera, but still relevant to the narrative. We played around with interviews, arguments, variations of improv or muscle memory exercises — it was crucial to keep it fresh each time we met up, to promote spontaneity while dropping any ego, etc. They gradually grew more comfortable, whether it involved touch, eye contact, showing more vulnerability… it was really promising to see it play out in real-time like this. My fingers were crossed that cameras and crews weren’t going to scare away all the work we’d done together.
We played around with interviews, arguments, variations of improv or muscle memory exercises — it was crucial to keep it fresh each time we met up, to promote spontaneity while dropping any ego…
What did you choose to shoot first and why?
Logistically, it made the most sense to shoot the sunset/blue hour “interlude” scene first. This was slightly intimating at first, but really allowed all of us to rise to the occasion, particularly while chasing the light. It worked really well for setting the intimacy, tone, emotional demand and shooting ratio of the production.
This was also bookended by the last day of the shoot which covered the crematorium and hospital. It was also Father’s Day, which made it that much more powerful. Our lead, Ishaval, said to me, days leading up to this day: “Not everyone gets a gift like this to give to their dad. I think both me and him waited a long time to have any type of relationship.” That felt (and continues to feel) very, very special.
Who has been inspiring you recently?
Honestly, at the risk of sounding trite — the father in this project, Kamaldevinder. His willingness to be a part of something like this, as a non-actor and South Asian man, no less. To see him give all of himself to this was deeply remarkable, I wish to have a fraction of his courage and vulnerability as a filmmaker (and person).
I’m also inspired by so many folks I continue to work with, on and off this project, including our DP Farhad Ghaderi alongside frequent collaborators I edit for, including Salar Pashtoonyar, Minhal Baig and David Findlay — all friends with strong storytelling sensibilities.
What are you reading at the moment?
I recently took a break from relationship self-help books (lol) to finish ‘Who Killed My Father’ by Édouard Louis. A friend recommended it after we spoke about ‘On Earth, We’re Briefly Gorgeous’. I really enjoy these personal memoirs, especially from the perspective of any diaspora kids. On the same wavelength, I just started ‘A History of My Brief Body’ which is promisingly just as intimate so far.
- Alexander Farah
- Farhad Ghaderi
- Director of Photography
- Shyam Valera
- Kashif Pasta
- Wallop Film
- Production Company
- Dunya Media
- Production Company
- Kris & Kara Casting
- Sam Gilling