Diego Arandia and Safaa Mahmoud are master students of “International Media Cultural Work”. Together they worked on two 360° Films: “Not a nightmare” and “I am not what you think I am”. These videos are particularly immersive by using VR-glasses. Diego was awarded with the “Janus 3D Audio Award” and Safaa with the “Nachwuchspreis Medienkultur” of Dieburg. In this interview they talk about these productions and their plans for the future.
Diego, in the movie „Not a nightmare“ you show the emotional consequences of sexual harassment. Why did you choose such a sensitive topic?
Diego: The idea of this movie is from Safaa. Maybe she can talk about her experiences.
Safaa: Before coming here, I lived in Egypt all my life. There I experienced a lot of sexual harassment. I couldn’t really go out and walk down the streets because we have more than 90 percent sexual harassment rate in Egypt, which is among the highest rates in the world. It’s a very personal idea that is very deep inside I wanted to express. This feeling is supposed to break down girls, but instead I chose to break out. This experience made me stronger instead of breaking me down. Other girls chose to give up instead of facing things, blaming themselves and feeling ashamed. That’s part of the text for the movie, that the girl feels ashamed, but I am not ashamed. And it’s true that it’s a very sensitive and personal topic to me. I faced this since I was very little girl. As an Egyptian woman I spent all my life dealing with this. I always designed posters to stop sexual harassment against women and dreamed of fighting this all my life. Because of all my experiences I wanted to actually challenge my society with this Idea. So when I came here and took the Fulldome elective we proposed this idea for the project.
What was particularly important for you at the implementation of your project?
Diego: We did some research at different places in Darmstadt because we looked for a specific light or a place that is empty, but also has some movement. So we found the Südbahnhof that has amazing train sounds and a beautiful colour at sundown.
Safaa: We liked to express the confusion the girl was facing in the movie. For example, the train’s brake shrieking should express the fear.
Diego: We got a lot of nice shots there. In the moment of editing, we took all the pieces together and it fits very well with the feelings we liked to convey. When a girl suffers with any kind of harassment, one feels subconsciously that everything is changing. And maybe an outsider won’t notice what’s going on inside the girl. For example she will feel completely alone even though there are people around her. Every sound around her will increase or will be associated with her experiences and feelings.
So there are many aspects you took into account. How long did you work on „Not a nightmare“?
Diego: We spent one month looking for a suitable location. Then the shooting took two days of very intensive rehearsing and filming. After that it took us a long time to record the sounds. At the end of the semester we made the first cut. After that we needed another semester to perfect the cut, the color and to fix any possible mistakes. We also worked on the audio in the special 3D audio studio that we have at the university. We tried to get a product that works as both, a Fulldome video and a 3D audio composition. You can also omit the video and you get the same feelings just by listening to the sounds. The audio works independently of the video.
Safaa, the project „I am not what you think I am“ was directed by you. What did you want to show?
Safaa: It’s about a girl that is conflicted. She has an inner and an outer self. At home she feels safe, she can express herself. But outside she feels like people see her in a different way. The idea was very personal to me, but Diego and I reflect these ideas very well. In my culture it’s a taboo to express yourself as a woman. I really liked to challenge this and to break all these rules.
Diego: We liked to make this movie a little bit more abstract. We based it on her script: all the bubbles that come up in the movie are like thoughts and reflections. We illustrated them in a kind of visual abstraction by means of the audiovisual language.
Both of you were honoured with prizes for your projects. What does that mean to you?
Diego: It was really impressive to me. Because when we prepared the fulldome project, we just wanted to pass the course and to do the best we can. Then we sent it to Jena festival because: Why not? But we didn’t expect that it will end with prizes.
Safaa: In Jena I couldn’t believe that my name was mentioned among the finalists. Because I didn’t think that anyone would like my movie. It was an experience I wanted to gain, but I didn’t expect that anyone will understand my idea of the movie or to be rewarded for it.
Diego: We were kind of afraid because we saw amazing projects from universities like Weimar or Hamburg. It also opened our eyes for a better perspective, and now we are working together so we can make it professionally. It seems that we have something good to offer, a cinematographic style for 360 videos and 3D audio. It would be good for us to engage in this field and to improve our capabilities. And also to get a life out of it.
And do you have concrete plans for your future concerning your careers?
Diego: We thought about this. We would like to produce more movies. We want to put people in the other’s shoes. VR is a very good tool to express empathy among, psychological, religious and social conflicts. There are a lot of topics we can express through this medium. So we started a project called Shoes for Brains for 360 films production. To know more about our new videos, we can be found on Instagram and Facebook as @shoesforbrains.