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“So Much Is About Responding in the Moment and Not Living in an Idealized Reality” | Mariama Diallo, Master

Regina Hall appears in Master by Mariama DialloRegina Hall appears in Master by Mariama Diallo. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

The last two years have prompted much contemplation and reconsideration of the reasons why we make our films as well as the ways in which we make them. What aspect of your filmmaking—whether in your creative process, the way you finance your films, your production methodology or the way you relate to your audience—did you have to reinvent in order to make and complete the film you are bringing to the festival this year?

I’ve become a lot more flexible. As a person, I tend to be rigid. I make plans and stick to them. As a director, I used to be the same way. Going into the Master shoot the first time in February 2020, DP Charlotte Hornsby and I were armed with a shotlist we had no intention of deviating from.

However, when you’re shooting during a pandemic, that’s not quite possible. I knew when we were going back to finish the film after being on pause for nearly a year that I would need to have a different approach. Knowing that circumstances could change on the fly and prepared for any number of disasters to befall us, I became a lot more present. The shotlist became less of a blueprint and more of a map of a destination I wanted to reach: depending on the needs of the scene or the day, I was ready to take a different route. So much is about responding in the moment and not living in an idealized reality. I think this is obvious for a lot of directors, but it took a global pandemic for that to sink in for me, and it’s made me a better director. A film is alive if you live with it. You’ll mummify a film if you’re inflexible.

See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.

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