Nikita Liu

Nikita Liu is an American filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. She began her career as a self-portrait artist and model. This allowed her to gain the experience of working with multiple aspects of image creation: photography, editing, set design, wardrobe, hair, and makeup. A desire to apply this experience to cinema led her to create her first short film, The Spectators, in 2022.

1. Your project takes a part in our festival. What is your project about?
The Spectators follows a 1920s obsessed woman who receives a pair of antique shoes for her birthday. Soon, she finds herself trapped in a silent film from that period, where she loses her grasp on reality and is ridiculed by the audience. I wanted to bring my experience of having looping, obsessive thoughts to the screen. Sometimes, these thoughts are beautiful fantasies and other times, they're absolute nightmares. This film explores what it feels like for someone to lose control of not just their surroundings, but their mind as well. When control is lost in this way, it becomes easy to mistake fearful thoughts for actual situations. Fear like this might quickly pass, but it always threatens to appear again.

unnamed 8jpg

2. What were your requirements for actors to take a part of your film?
I required voice actors who could speak with a Transatlantic accent, as the characters are living in the 1920s and I wanted it to feel as realistic as possible.

3. How did you communicate with the cameraman?
I was the camera operator for this film. I loved it because I knew exactly how I wanted each shot to look. However, it was a challenge because I had to work behind and in front of the camera at the same time.

4. What locations did you choose for your project? And why?
Due to several restrictions, I shot this film in my living room. I knew it was a story that I could tell in just one room.

5. Why should distributors buy your film?
I feel that The Spectators would appeal to anybody who has felt fear in their life, so, most people. It's a six minute fever dream that will leave audience members reflecting upon their own lives.

6. What expression elements did you use in your project? How would you characterize your work?
The Spectators is composed of only static shots. I did this to pay homage to the early days of silent cinema, before camera movement was regularly used. I used parts of my own antique collection for wardrobe and props. The style of the film is heavily influenced by German Expressionism, especially the wall mural that I painted prior to filming.

unnamed 6jpg

unnamed 5jpg

7. At what festivals have you had success? Has the film already premiered? If so, where?
At the time of this interview, I have only just begun to submit to festivals. The film was completed about a week ago and has not premiered yet.

8. What motivated you to become a filmmaker?
The first time I ever considered becoming a filmmaker was the night I watched Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas for the first time. While I was watching the Copacabana shot, I knew instantly that I wanted to be the person who came up with that idea.

9. Which movies are your favorites? And why?
Martin Scorsese's After Hours and Goodfellas, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and Bob Fosse's Cabaret. I feel personally connected to each of these movies for one reason or another. They are films that I will rewatch periodically for the rest of my life.

10. What topics do you like to deal with in your work?
I like to explore themes of mental health, dynamics between people, philosophy, and spirituality.

12. What genre do you like to shoot and why?
My favorite genre to watch is dark comedy. Naturally, it's also my favorite to create. Dark comedies have such a great balance of humor and either unfortunate or just less than ideal circumstances.

13. What project would you like to shoot one day, what would it be about?
I'd like to make a film that weaves through the lives of several characters dealing with the same traumatic event in their own ways. It would be a great way to bring so many interesting characters to life.

14. How has COVID affected your film life?
 My career actually didn't begin until COVID. It placed several restrictions on my daily life but it allowed me to slow down and take the time to hone my craft.

15. What do you do if you're not thinking about a movie? What are your hobbies?
If I'm not thinking about my own work, I'm usually either watching, reading, or listening to someone else's. I also love to exercise and I'm hoping to travel a lot this year.

16. What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
I plan on shooting a short documentary while I travel.