Agam Darshi is an award-winning actress, author, and director. Born in England and raised throughout Canada, she at the moment resides in Los Angeles, California. She lately wrapped on Ava DuVernay’s sequence “DMZ” for HBO Max. She had a lead position in Deepa Mehta’s “Humorous Boy,” for which she was nominated for Canadian Display Award in 2021. “Donkeyhead,” which she penned and stars in, marks her directorial debut.
“Donkeyhead” launches on Netflix in america, United Kingdom, and Australia January 21. It hits choose theaters in Canada March 11.
W&H: Describe the movie for us in your individual phrases.
AD: I wish to name “Donkeyhead” a “coming-of-age story just a few a long time late.” It’s a couple of girl named Mona who’s nearing 40, and has been caring for her ailing father for the final seven years. When his well being takes a flip for the worst, her three profitable siblings come residence to deal with the “scenario.”
It’s about household, forgiveness, and shifting on with life.
W&H: What drew you to this story?
AD: I like household dramas. I like coming-of-age tales. And I knew I wished to make one thing like that that centered round a South Asian household.
The specifics of the story although come from my life and the lives of the folks round me. I lived with my father for a yr when he was recognized with most cancers. I watched as my mom tirelessly cared for him.
Most cancers is an unsightly illness and so many people have expertise with it in some type. It was such an intense time in my life and my household’s life that I wanted to course of the expertise via my writing.
W&H: What would you like folks to consider after they watch the movie?
AD: I need them to realize extra understanding of South Asian tradition and to comprehend that households are all the identical.
The Sikh Punjabi tradition, though ample in America, remains to be mysterious in plenty of methods. We see males in turbans, however many people really feel disconnected to them and their communities, however hopefully anybody watching this movie will see themselves on this household and are available away feeling related. I feel that’s the most important ask for any filmmaker: that your viewers feels a little bit extra related to your world and the folks you’re placing a lens on.
W&H: What was the most important problem in making the movie?
AD: We shot throughout COVID-19, which was arduous and scary.
We shot in Saskatchewan in January 2021, the place it was actually -40 levels generally. One evening, the bike I used to be using within the scene froze and we couldn’t use it. One other time our dolly froze. It’s harsh circumstances, however it’s an atmosphere so many new immigrants transfer to, so it felt acceptable to movie there.
W&H: How did you get your movie funded? Share some insights into how you bought the movie made.
AD: It’s a Canadian movie that obtained federal and provincial grants. It’s a protracted course of and a aggressive one, however there was plenty of love for the script, and other people wished to make it. We obtained Telefilm funding, Canada Media Fund, Sasktel Max Fairness, Artistic Saskatchewan , and BC and federal tax credit. But it surely nonetheless wasn’t sufficient.
My producers, Kelly Balon and Anand Raamaya, and I put our wage again into the movie to get it made, after which when it was completed we discovered personal buyers to assist shut our funding hole.
W&H: What impressed you to grow to be a filmmaker?
AD: I’ve at all times cherished tales. I cherished theater and wrote performs rising up. I used to be the child who pressured my household and pals to make films and do performances at gatherings.
The older I received and the extra I acted, I at all times knew I’d additionally inform my very own tales ultimately. It’s a necessity, one thing that I really feel so enthusiastic about. I really feel thirsty to signify the underrepresented in my movies, and create an area for his or her voices to be heard.
W&H: What’s the very best and worst recommendation you’ve obtained?
AD: Finest recommendation: My dad at all times instructed me to maintain writing. Though he was an engineer, he by no means instructed me to do one thing sensible with my life. However he at all times mentioned that if I used to be going to behave, I also needs to write and create work.
Worst recommendation: As an actor, to alter my ethnicity and inform folks I used to be half white, which I by no means did.
W&H: What recommendation do you could have for different girls administrators?
AD: I’d inform them to put in writing. To create. To take huge steps. To guess on themselves.
In a sensible sense, I’d additionally inform them to direct for his or her finances. In case you take a look at European movies or Latin American movies which have a lot smaller budgets than American movies, they inform tales in another way however nonetheless impactful. I feel it’s actually essential to see what sort of finances you could have and discover good methods to inform the story with out making an attempt to make the subsequent Hollywood blockbuster as a result of we don’t all have 60 days and $50 million to make a movie. We are able to nonetheless make one thing stunning with what we now have in efficient, imaginative methods.
W&H: Identify your favourite woman-directed movie and why.
AD: That’s so robust. I’ve so many. I cherished “The Farewell” by Lulu Wang and I visited that movie many instances after I was making “Donkeyhead.” It offers with related themes, however Lulu is so good in the best way she tells a narrative a couple of huge household. Her stunning compositions, her set design, the centered and intentional shut ups had been very inspiring.
I additionally love the 1994 model of “Little Girls” directed by Gillian Anderson and tailored by Robin Swicord, two feminine storytellers. I cherished the e book and felt that it was so splendidly and truthfully become a movie. The ladies had been robust and susceptible in a manner that I feel can solely be instructed by feminine storytellers.
W&H: How are you adjusting to life throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you maintaining inventive, and in that case, how?
AD: Sure, unusually sufficient. It’s arduous in some ways, as we all know, however I’m nonetheless making movies, nonetheless performing, nonetheless touring for work and generally for pleasure with out risking my well being or the well being of these round me.
To be sincere, I additionally actually benefit from the quietness that the pandemic has supplied us. I like that much less individuals are driving to work, and that I don’t need to exit as a lot to fulfill folks. That sitting at residence, answering these questions with a cup of tea is the brand new assembly at a espresso store on Melrose to speak in particular person! I’m type of OK with that.
W&H: The movie business has a protracted historical past of underrepresenting folks of shade on display and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — unfavourable stereotypes. What actions do you assume must be taken to make it extra inclusive?
AD: Precisely what you’re doing now. Creating area for BIPOC filmmakers and storytellers to be seen and heard. For BIPOC storytellers to make artwork. For audiences to be political and intentional within the decisions of flicks they watch. Nowadays I wish to learn books, watch films, and assist artwork that’s created by or centered on folks of shade, not simply because I crave their views, however as a result of it’s a political act, and if it resonates with me, I’ll inform 5 pals and possibly they’ll observe swimsuit. The person is highly effective.