Alia Ghafar | 2017 | 11 min Winner of the Scottish Short Film Award, sponsored by Blazing Griffin, at GSFF 2018.
Stuck in a post-high-school limbo, Tammy works long days in the family chip shop while deciding what next to do with her life. She soon realises that she can’t keep avoiding her future.
Alia Ghafar is a filmmaker based in Scotland. Originally from Glasgow, she recently graduated from the Film and TV programme at Edinburgh College of Art. Salt & Sauce is Alia’s graduation film and premiered at the 61st BFI London Film Festival 2017.
Your short explores the perils of being a creative person trapped in relative monotony. How much of this was drawn from personal experience? I think being uncertain of how to channel your creativity and that frustration is something many of us can relate to. Working in retail definitely inspired Salt & Sauce somewhat – the routine could become monotonous, but when interacting with strangers everyday there is a lot of humour, comfort and inspiration to be found. People in the arts often have to support themselves with other work, but it gives you a grounding in the real world which is necessary to make work – creativity needs to be drawn from life.
Salt & Sauce is set and filmed almost exclusively inside an Edinburgh chip shop. Did you find it challenging to shoot inside such a small setting? I’d always liked the idea of having the limitation of one space and utilising that in the film. The feeling of being stuck which Tammy experiences and mirroring that in the physical world of the film was important to me. My cinematographer and I had many conversations before the shoot about how to best capture space and keep it interesting, which to me was an exciting challenge. We aimed with our framing to emphasise that sense of being ‘boxed in’ and emphathise with the character.
As this was your final graduation film, do you feel there was more pressure on yourself as a filmmaker to produce a memorable product? You always put a certain pressure on yourself… but I really believe everything you make is part of a learning process. My approach to Salt & Sauce was that I had a story I wanted to explore and an amazing team of collaborators, so I had to just give it my all. I think if you make something true to yourself, people will respond to that. And at the end of the day filmmaking is just great fun, so enjoy it!
The film won the Scottish Short Film Award at GSFF amongst other honours. How much does it mean to you have your work appreciated in such a way at the beginning of your career? It was a wonderful feeling to win at GSFF, especially as it’s my local festival! It’s just fantastic that people have responded so well… when you make a film it’s like you’re putting a little piece of your mind out into the world, sharing something that’s just lived in your brain before now. So even when one person actually likes it and wants to talk to you about it, it’s really amazing.
You say that you hope to continue examining the lives of young Scots in your future shorts. Are there any such projects in the pipeline? I’m currently collaborating on several projects… it’s exciting and inspiring to work with other people who are wanting to shake up the film scene to represent a younger, more diverse, contemporary Scotland. Watch this space!
Salt & Sauce screens before Anna and the Apocalypse, 30 November-6 December.
Glasgow Short Film Festival’s Shorts In Support scheme aims to revive the tradition of the supporting short film by distributing eight fantastic new short films (including two selected by the Scottish Queer International Film Festival) to cinemas and film societies to screen before features during autumn/winter 2018. Shorts in Support is supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network.