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Faces of the Festival: Melanie Schiele

Meet Melanie Schiele, director of the mesmerizing short, Delilah, Before, screening both at TFF in NYC and on TFF Virtual Premium.

Melanie Schiele: Director of Delilah, Before Tell us a little about your film.


Melanie Schiele: Delilah, Before is a film about the complexity of familial love. It’s also about the hope for another chance in mending a broken relationship. As Melodie Lee, who plays Delilah, puts it, “Sometimes, it’s not too late.” What inspired you to tell this story?


MS: I was inspired by a personal experience at a women's mentoring facility in Singapore, which aims to facilitate the difficult transition from prison to an often unforgiving society. I met with several young women whose families shunned them upon their homecoming. What makes a great short film?


MS: One strong and simple concept executed by way of well-defined characters. What's your advice for aspiring filmmakers?


MS: Every film you make should have a specific intention or goal. Know it, stand by it, and don’t lose sight of it. Be open and respectful to outside criticism, but also be true to your unique vision and enjoy every moment of the experience of bringing it to life. Surround yourself with not only talented people but those who bear personal integrity. If you could have dinner with any filmmaker (alive or dead), who would it be?


MS: At the moment, I would have to say Andrea Arnold. She delivers authentic work that is full of bravery and a compelling, consistent voice. She is very skilled at treating emotionally charged content in a way that does not become maudlin or overly sentimental.


Delilah, Before What piece of art (book/film/music/what-have-you) are you currently recommending to your friends most often?


MS: Andrea Arnold’s latest feature Fish Tank has a mesmerizing performance by first-time actress Katie Jarvis. Arnold knows how to identify and shape raw talent. She is a firm believer in following your instincts and filmmaking is exactly that—following your gut and seeing where it takes you, for better or for worse.


My lead actress Melodie Lee hadn’t acted a day in her life. I met 20 other actresses who had professional training, but ultimately I chose her because she had the unmistakable desire and emotional intelligence to dive into this role. What would your biopic be called?


MS: “Nice Girls Finish First.” In the toughness of today’s world and in the realm of female filmmakers, I sense this unspoken implication that one needs to be aggressive and commanding to get noticed and be taken seriously. But I’ve always thought being considerate and open to ideas gets you a lot further in life. Be confident, yes—but let the work be your calling card.


Delilah, Before What makes Delilah, Before a Tribeca (and Tribeca Film Festival Virtual) must-see?


MS: It is the only film this year to come out of Singapore featuring an all-Singaporean cast. Yet, it is also a universal story that explores relationships grounded in reality and quiet nuance. How did you end up in Singapore and at NYU Tisch Asia?


MS: I had been an NYU alumnus from my undergraduate screenwriting studies, and when I saw a press release about a new campus opening in Singapore for graduate film, I thought, “What an amazing opportunity it would be to push myself as an artist and make films on unfamiliar terrain.” It will be a historic occasion this May when my pioneering class becomes the first to graduate from NYU Tisch Asia. We’re an incredibly diverse group of filmmakers and we’ve had the privilege of special guest directors at our disposal, including Tisch Asia’s artistic director Oliver Stone, Todd Solondz, Shekhar Kapur, and Joshua Marston. Sometimes, I need to pinch myself. I feel so lucky.


Delilah, Before screens in the Shorts: Wishful Thinking program at TFF 2010.


Bonus! Delilah, Before is one of the 18 short films available online from April 23-30 with the Tribeca Film Festival Virtual Premium Pass. The Premium Pass is available to all U.S. residents, age 18 or older, for only $45. Learn more, and get your pass today so you don't miss out.


Find out where and when all films are playing in the 2010 Film Guide.


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