Angelfish is a lovely coming of age indie which began making the major festival rounds before covid19 stalled festival season. We sat down for a chat with the film’s producer Rabia Sultana.
Angelfish tells the story of Brendan (Jimi Stanton), a high school drop out with a complicated family living in the Bronx who meets Eva (Princess Nokia), a young woman who’s on her own journey of self-discovery. The film follows the young couple’s relationship as they try to navigate their lives and future together.
PPLA Q+A with Film Producer Rabia Sultana
PPLA: Rabia, how long have you been producing now?
RS: Five years.
PPLA: How did Angelfish get on your radar?
RS: I’ve had a great working relationship with Robin Rose Singer, who I produced the film with. We had worked on 3 shorts together prior to Angelfish. I had both produced with her and been her AD when she was directing. It was through Robin I got on Angelfish.
PPLA: How long was pre-production for Angelfish vs the actual shooting schedule?
RS: We had about two months or so for prep (All while working other jobs as well). I was actually on the feature film, The Climb before shooting Angelfish so the three days a week I had off were for tech scouts.
PPLA: You are also the 1st AD was this your first time as 1st AD on a feature?
RS: I have AD’ a few features before. Prom King and The Truth about Santa Claus, which I also produced. Lots of short films, as well. When I began working in film, I started as an AD and transition into producing. I’ll still AD now and then, normally
PPLA: What interested you in this particular story and coming onboard?
RS: I loved that the story was grounded in a New York City we don’t usually see; the romanticism of the true New York City, that goes beyond seeing the Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building as the backdrop to a love story. Angelfish is respectful to the Bronx, the cultures there, it celebrates the latin community, it’s respect for family. I’m pleased that we had an opportunity to show a positive representation of a community that oftentimes isn’t present in the best light in mainstream media.
PPLA: What do you think of indie filmmaking now that you’ve successfully finished Angelfish?
RS: A lot of the producers I work with jokingly use the term ‘sweat equity’. Independent projects take a lot of willpower. We’re often working with limited resources/money, under time constraints as well. I have certainly become pickier about what independent projects I take on, they need to resonate with me and be in par with the type of stories I want to tell. Having said that, I really do enjoy doing indies, there’s a comradery on set and people really do seem to show up with their best foot forward.
PPLA: Any tips for first time producers?
RS: Prepare to the best of your ability. Know that things won’t always go according to plan, but that’s why you need a Plan B, C… and D. You do need to be adaptable and think on your feel, because Murphy‘s Law finds every film set. And Keep calm! The energy on set is determined from the core production team.
PPLA: What do you hope people take away from Angelfish?
RS: It’s a sweet romance, I hope people watch the movie and feel that your ‘everyday’ romance can still be filled with some magic.
PPLA: What are you working on next?
RS: I have a few exciting projects brewing. I am working on a feature film called Blink, it’s a dark comedy/ fantasy. The story is set in a world where everyone has an affliction that goes away when they get a terminal illness, a young woman who can’t blink joins forces with an ALS patient to explore the idea of assisted suicide. I also am working on developing a virtual cinematography project. It’s nothing like what I’ve produced before, and will certainly be challenging but that in itself is exciting – to create the opportunity to learn a different approach to filmmaking. I’m also In the thick of writing my screenplay. It’s about time I do that!
You can find out more about Rabia at rabiasultana.com