It’s both fascinating and frightening to think about the ways in which every new generation of children will now grow up with the gargantuan force of social media. The comparative and performative nature of online culture is already seen as a major cause of anxiety for those in the nascent stages of learning about who they are and who they want to be. Dimanche from filmmaking duo Fatty Soprano and Shutterr – who last joined us with dance as therapy documentary Krump Antidote – sees two teenagers wrestle with these ideas. One of them is a young girl who is growing frustrated when a school friend becomes the centre of attention for how she looks, the other is her younger brother who likes to don her clothes and makeup. Soprano and Shutterr capture the pair as they air their anxieties amongst the soft red hues of their bedroom light, making the film both a stylish and worrying portrait of youth culture. We discuss Dimanche with the co-directors below, learning how they sought to represent the issues faced in youth culture today in addition to the practical methods behind the film’s alluring cinematography.
I really enjoyed the youthful poeticism of Dimanche, where did it all start for you?
I wrote the screenplay in a form of a long monologue about the effects of social media on young women and men. I knew I wanted to cast actor/producer Aidan Grossman for the male role. Working with him on our past short film Drummer Boy, I knew he would bring a very fresh take on the character. He made some adjustments to the script and we were both very happy with the outcome and went straight into production.
What aspects surrounding the effects of social media were you looking to explore?
We really wanted to explore how Instagram has a huge effect on the younger generation. It is beyond a popularity contest now. Girls see other girls able to earn money on the side or even a living just based on the number of likes and followers which lead to other opportunities. All of our Dimanche characters were based on true stories.
What sort of practical challenges does a film like Dimanche bring, I read that you sourced the house during a lockdown?
The biggest challenge was producing this short film during the COVID-19 pandemic. The city of Toronto, Canada was still in a lockdown. With many production studios being closed Aidan found a house with a large bedroom that was perfect for the project. The location had the space for what we wanted but it didn’t have a particularly interesting look. Aidan and I took care of the set design to really make it come alive.
Visually speaking, the film looks fantastic. How did you achieve the soft luminescent hues of the cinematography?
Because Dimanche was filmed in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown with a shoestring budget. We were very lucky to have gaffer/grip Stan Shilvinskyi get on board and help us light every scene. We were mostly using daylight Godox COB lights, large softboxes and a lot of negative fills.
We chose to film the project on vintage lenses and use strong diffusion to give Dimanche that 90s look.
The entire project was filmed on my Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro G1 camera, along with the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K and the original Blackmagic Pocket as B and C cams. The Blackmagic cameras were paired with vintage Tokina zoom lenses and Contax Zeiss primes. All the lenses had diffusion filters in front of them (satin and Glimmerglass filters) to give it a nice and soft look.
What was it about that particular kind of hazy atmosphere that attracted you to implement it?
We were always heavily inspired by Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting. One of our favourite films. We chose to film the project on vintage lenses and use strong diffusion to give Dimanche that 90s look.
How much time did it take you to shoot everything you needed?
We managed to wrap all the dialogue scenes in two days but I felt like we could use some additional inserts especially for the character of Charlotte. We waited a few weeks until the COVID-19 city lockdown was lifted and booked a production studio for additional portrait scenes/inserts. We cast Mercedesz Meszaros who was just amazing as Charlotte and resembled our lead actress Marie Luciani which made it even more interesting.
We were extremely happy with the additional takes but unfortunately more challenges occurred. The CFast 2.0 media we were using somehow corrupted the footage and we were left with only two usable takes from that day. In order to save the project in the edit, I mainly focused on Marie’s reaction scenes. She is a phenomenal actress and really gave it her all!
We really wanted to explore how Instagram has a huge effect on the younger generation.
I’d love to hear more about the set design. What did you discuss with Aidan when designing the bedroom space?
The set design was really crucial to us! We want to inject a lot of pop culture into this short piece. We purchased a lot of posters and some red Christmas lights to give it an intense level of brightness as the backdrop.
Now that the film has been released online, what kind of responses are you seeing from audiences? Is there anything that’s surprised you about what people are saying?
We’ve been getting a tremendous amount of feedback, especially on social media on how the dialogue depicts today’s teens or even twenty-something-year-olds. A lot of musical artists (singers, producers) have messaged us on Instagram to tell us how much they can relate to the story, which was incredible to hear.
And finally, what films or projects will you be working on next?
We’ve recently wrapped the production on our latest short film called RSVP. It is a painful story about regret. Hoping to share it with the world very soon!
Dimanche is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.