Earlier this year we were fortunate enough to be offered the chance to review a screener of a fantastic short film called Maturing Youth. The cast and crew are gearing up for the film’s premiere at the first annual Cutting Room International Short Film Festival next month and we were given the opportunity to interview the film’s director, Divoni Simon.
Would you like to introduce yourself to our readers…
Hello to all who reads this, my name is Divoni Simon. I’m a 21-year-old filmmaker who lives in Long Island, NY and “Maturing Youth” from R&F Entertainment is my official debut short film. I’ve been writing screenplays through my teenage years to now, starting from freshmen year of high school. So far, the road has been long and tough, but I’m glad everything is finally coming to fruition.
You both wrote and directed Maturing Youth, which marks your directorial debut – Can you tell us what inspired this story?
The main theme I wanted to nail was responsibility in the oak wood of thought. I was looking at my life from the outside-in and didn’t particularly favour the lack of structure my life was leading. Especially, in the responsibility department. Just the same as the lead character, I also had a fear of maturing and a self-proclaimed “Peter-Pan syndrome”. This wasn’t the first short nor feature I’ve written, but this is the only story where my inner-self was vulnerable to this extent and I wanted to create a film that was honest in all ways. And, the process of the film’s production was very cleansing for me.
How long did the shoot last for this short?
Two and half days. In the original draft, we were looking at 47-pages worth of content, but we omitted unnecessary bits throughout pre-production, during filming and also in editing. I’m very proud of the cast and crew on having the tenacity of pushing their limits when it came to this project.
Were there any unexpected challenges you faced during filming?
Everything was hectic, but the team was well prepared thanks to the producer [Chase Michael Pallante]. Thankfully, nothing catastrophic happened during those two and half days. Mostly the problems, before shooting were monetary expenses. Secondly, was finding a location to film inside of so the answer to that was to shoot the movie inside my own home. I went through about twenty jobs just to raise funding for this project. Then, on-set, you had your usual directorial stresses of keeping the boat afloat along with the producer.
What did you find most enjoyable about filming Maturing Youth?
Every single second from it. Even, back in pre-production when we were in the middle of auditions and rehearsals. I was delighted to work with the actors on improving every nook and cranny of their characters and using their suggestions to better craft their characters so that the experience could be more universal for all involved. As far as scene-wise, I personally enjoyed filming all the argument scenes between Roger, played by Sean A. Kaufman and Sadie, played by Kim Paris. They both had an energy that felt like you’re watching an intense match of hot-potato.
Are there any directors in particular that inspire you and your work, both directing and screenwriting?
Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kuwaswa, The Coen Brothers, Spike Lee, John Singleton, Oscar Micheaux, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, too many too name. The list keeps growing honestly.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” – Anonymous
Do you have any future projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
My next short film will be about a chronic masturbator who discovers his mother’s pornography tape online.
What’s your dream project?
I’ve already written the script for it. It’s about the Black Panther Organization and the FBI’s COINTELPRO program set in Harlem, 1968.
We like to end our interviews with the most important question of all – does pineapple belong on pizza?
Just as much as Trump belongs in office.
We’d like to thank Divoni once again for taking the time to answer our questions, and we’re excited to reveal we’ll have more interviews from the cast and crew from Maturing Youth coming up very soon!