Mason Fleming, Director of Deighties, winner of the 2017 Audience Awards at Australian Short Film Today in New York and Houston
Exploring how the elderly deal with the world of modern dating resonated with me from the beginning. I found the notion of a person needing to emotionally rebuild their younger self quite impactful.
It's as if you are suddenly forced to rediscover your distant inner child, and all the things that came so easily years before. That's what I love about the film - while it's technically a film about the elderly, it's actually all about the inner child. As I was 20 at the time of directing Deighties, this was the universal theme I used as my pathway to empathy. I never wanted to depict the 'oldness' of the characters, and all the connotations that go along with that. Instead, I wanted people to relate to Phil's youthful heart, and the entire life of memories he had before his current age.
I think Phil and Davilia (the documentary subjects) knew we were making something with positive, heartfelt intention - so that allowed us to have a degree of comfort and trust during the shoot. We built a relationship. I talked to Phil as if he were my grandfather and he talked to me as if I were his grandson, so he was willing to voice his hopes and insecurities, for which I am very thankful.
I made sure to keep our presence as filmmakers as unobtrusive as possible, both on the shoot and in the finished product. We positioned the camera in a way to help tell Phil's story, but wouldn't step in the way of the life happening in front of us. Once Phil and Davilia had developed a connection, we followed them along some beautifully human tangents of conversation. My favourite thing is the connections that could never have been planned for—they're so spontaneous and real. I certainly would not have guessed that a couple in their eighties would find a shared love of tango!