BECAUSE I COULD AN INTERVIEW WITH NIKI J. BORGER

In her film, Niki J. Borger takes us 20 years into the future, and confronts us with ourselves. We all know the environment is suffering but how many of us are actually attempting to change our habits? To better our behavior? This film doesn’t want you to wait until it’s too late. It asks you to wake up Today.

Cult Critic- This film sends a strong message. What inspired you to create it?

Niki – What really strikes me on a day to day basis, is that there are so many better options out there, but they have a hard time getting into the market. Just think of biodegradable alternatives to plastic or reusable makeup remover cloths. It’s all there, but most of the time we stick with what we’re used to. I think mankind can do better and I think the time is now to prove it.

Cult Critic – What made you choose those particular characters? And how was working with the actors?

Niki – I am an actress and this was my first time directing a movie. I had written the script because I care about the topic. But I had a very particular vision of how I wanted it to look like in the end, so I decided to direct myself and act in it at the same time. I wanted the characters to be relatable, to be every day people with every day excuses. And accordingly, I cast actors that could represent that. The directing work itself came quite easy, as I know from experience what an actor needs from a director. It was interesting to be on the other side though.

Cult Critic – What were the biggest challenges you faced during production?

Niki – I transferred my acting career from stage to screen about a year and a half ago. And even though I did over 40 projects in that time, I don’t have much technical knowledge behind the camera. I never studied filmmaking. I just had an idea what I wanted it all to look like. My way of dealing with this was to have an absolutely amazing crew that really knew what they were doing and really understood what I wanted. They made my job quite easy.

Cult Critic – Is this your first directing role? And how did you prepare for it?

Niki – I got to direct in a filmcraft class in school once. But that class was mainly about teaching actors how difficult the jobs behind the camera are, so I guess that doesn’t really count. So, yes, this was my first proper directing role. And I enjoyed it a lot. Being an actress, I had worked with many directors before, so I knew what an actor needs from a director to do a good job. I also had a look into a couple of directing books before the shoot. But generally I felt well prepared just from knowing the other side.

Cult Critic – Do you feel like being an actress first gave you advantages when working with the actors? And how so?

Niki – Absolutely. It all comes down to communication, I think. Because everybody involved in a film project has a vision of what the film would look like when it’s done. But you have to talk about it to see if that vision is similar or if there are differences. And for that you need adequate communication skills. The same goes for acting. If you tell an actor to “look like you’re disgusted”, they will feel like a 3-year old and act accordingly. It’s probably not going to be good. Instead, it’s about finding the images that work for them. By talking about it, understanding them and finding a common place to create their role in the projects. So, yes, I think being an actress has helped me a lot in working with the actors and I’d totally recommend to every director to swap sides once to get this understanding.

Cult Critic – The film takes place in one specific site. Tell us what prompted that location choice, along with your direction style.

Niki – This was a no budget production. So, our location choices were limited. I wanted the place to look like it was secret or hidden, like it’s still not okay to talk about climate sins in public. Additionally, I wanted to show the lack of resources, like there are hardly any proper film studios any more. And then lastly, I wanted the actors to feel somewhat locked in, almost claustrophobic, like they have no where else to go but to actually face the camera. I think, given
the lack of budget, it worked out alright.

Cult Critic – What do you wish your audience to take away from this film?

Niki – What is important to me, is that I don’t believe in big sacrifices. I don’t think we have to change everything we do immediately, that would be unhealthy and overwhelming. But I do think that there’s a lot more we can easily do, without scarifying much of our comfort or money. If everybody starts doing minor and easy changes, like bringing your own shopping bags, bringing a reusable coffee cup or using makeup remover cloths over cotton pads, we could already make a big shift. And then we just keep going.

Cult Critic –  In your experience, what are the changes people can start doing today to better their treatment to the environment.

Niki – The four characters I chose for this film represent the four major climate sins that we perform as a society on a daily basis: flying, excessive meat consumption, plastic waste and excessive mass consumption (especially plastic clothing). If we all went back to a less excessive way of doing things, that would already help a lot. Or to be very clear: If you can pick between a train
and a plane, pick the train. You don’t need to eat meat 3 times a day to stay healthy, especially not beef or pork. Bring your own shopping bags and be mindful of how much packaging comes with the products you buy. Buy higher quality, long-lasting products – especially clothes – over cheap ones that you have to throw away after a couple times of using. If everybody on this planet did that, we’d already be a massive step ahead.

Cult Critic – Share an unforgettable moment from production.

Niki – We shot the film on two iPhones 6s simultaneously to get the improvised parts on both angles. What I had not taken into account though is the amount of data that this would create and my laptop would not accept either of the phones to transfer it. At that point I thought this was it, we have to stop and shoot another time. I was really frustrated with myself, I felt like I was letting my team, both the crew and the actors down. And then they came in and somehow
figured it out. To this day, I have no idea how, but it worked out. It was amazing to experience this level of team-work and mutual support from people who had only met each other that very day.

Cult Critic – What can you tell us about your next project?
Niki – As much as I loved writing and directing this short, I am an actress and that is what my focus is on. My next project is going to be “Vice Squad Miami”, a TV show in which I will play a cop. Then there’s going to be the “Cambria” series, which will be a total of three feature films in which I get to play a major role for the first time. And sometime in between those, I’ll hopefully be filming “The Marriage Deal”, a comedy series about the arrangements you have to make in long term relationships, again in a lead role. I’m excited about all of them and can’t wait to get started!

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