Exclusive interview with Einat Propper – Filmmaker
Einat Propper is a filmmaker, actress, and video editor living in NYC for the last five years. After growing up in Haifa, Israel, Einat served in the Israeli Defense force army as an air traffic controller in the prestigious Israeli Air Force. Einat studied film, television, and communication at Israel’s premiere Tel Aviv University. Shortly after completing her BA degree with honors, she started working in the TV industry as a story producer on TV programs including “The Amazing Race” and “Couch Surfing,” and as a casting associate on TV series such as “Zaguri Empire” and “Ptzuim Barosh”. After working on the production side for a few years, she was tempted to learn more about “the other side of the camera”. Einat received a scholarship for the Musical Theater department of The American Musical and Dramatic Academy and moved to NYC. Since graduating AMDA, Einat has acted in short and feature films such as “Acajou”, “Meditation”, “The Date,” “Karma,” and “Harbinger Santuario 2,” and performed Off-Broadway in musicals and plays. Einat produced and directed the short films “Waltzing in LA LA land”, “Broken White” and “Monogamy Isn’t Realistic.” She was the director and editor for Lea Kalisch’s music video “Eshet Chayil of Hip Hop.” Currently Einat is in pre-production for her new self-written short film called “Meat Shop,“ intended to be shot in Israel in 2020.
NY Glam: How long have you been making films and videos?
I went to Tel Aviv University where I studied film in 2006. I’ve been making films ever since. So… 14 years of being behind the camera.
NY Glam: What film was your directorial debut?
A short film called Broken White. It’s about a painter struggling with an art blockage. She goes to snowy Central Park with her white canvas and discovers that her best friend’s love is what she’d been searching for.
NY Glam: What is your recent film about?
The Music Video Eshet Chayil of Hip Hop tries to break through the limitations in the closed off Hasidic world and criticizes the objectification of women in Hasidism and Hip Hop by asking questions like: How fun can it be to be religious in a “hip hop” kind of way (in a freer kind of way). Why can’t women be equal to men in the Orthodox Jewish world, why can’t they be educated, pray together and even wear a Shtreimel? (The fur hat Lea wears in almost every shot). Why can’t they be sexy? Why must they be modest to be accepted by the religious society?
NY Glam: What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?
We started shooting the music video before the song was fully recorded and produced. After we had shot in both Jerusalem and at Times Square, Lea and the music producer decided to change the style of the song from hip hop to a more oriental feel, which entailed using different instruments (a clarinet) and less of a hip hop beat. That was really challenging in editing because the Times Square scene no longer fully matched the music. There was also a new part added to the song we hadn’t shot yet at all. That made us go back to shooting and adding the “night scene” (in pink lights) on a rooftop in Brooklyn. In the end, this created a more diverse and interesting visual palette for the music video.
NY Glam: Tell us a bit about the other films you’ve made and your other projects.
Waltzing in LA LA Land is a short dance film about a ballet dancer that spends most of her time dancing alone in the studio but dreams of dancing with a beautiful partner in the middle of an empty Times Square (I used this location for 2 films already:)). I didn’t have a script for this short. I just wanted to shoot the dancing part in slow motion in that urban emptiness. (Shot by the amazing Jonathan Hauerstock, who is my favorite director of photography and also shot most of Eshet Chayil) The rest of the film was crystallized in my head after we filmed the Times Square part. I will talk later about my upcoming short Meat Shop.
NY Glam: What role have film festivals played in your life so far?
I have attended many film festivals before (Tribeca etc.) and have always wanted to be accepted with my own film, so being accepted to the IFFNY with Eshet Chayil of Hip Hop is very exciting. But[L1] it is not the only one I’m part of this year, Eshet Chayil has also been accepted to Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.
NY Glam: Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
For me it’s harder to get started when you don’t know the market well enough or what you’re capable of. Once you get started the ball of energy keeps rolling and as scary as it is, it feels easier to me. You have already decided you’re taking this ride and now you’re asking for the world to join your enthusiasm and karma and somehow magic starts to happen. For me a good partner is what helps me conquer both the “get started” and “keep going”. Having someone to share my ideas with, who is as enthusiastic for the project as I am, and who can show me a different point of view. Lea Kalisch is a great partner for that. She has sharp instincts and great ideas, she is talented, she knows what she wants, and she also listens very well. We also think alike in terms of story, which I am grateful for.
NY Glam: How has your style evolved?
I keep growing and evolving with every project I do. With Eshet Chayil it was very important to me to use authentic locations and camera movements that kept us in real time with Lea. The music video talks about the connection between Hasidism and Hip Hop, so shooting in Jerusalem and New York shows that contrast. My next directing project is a short called Meat Shop. It’s a stylized thriller about a pregnant Israeli woman who gets stuck with her car in a Palestinian village. There she asks for the help of Muhammad, a meat shop owner, who needs to decide if he will hide her and risk himself and his family. The short is in pre-production right now. I wrote it with my partner Eyal Berger and it will be shot in Israel. Our style in directing this film is very different from Eshet Chayil. Every camera movement is very specific because it’s a stylized thriller and we’re messing with the viewer’s mind.
NY Glam: What has been your personal key to success?
Just keep doing the work. Keep writing. Keep talking about what I write, keep being enthusiastic about it. Everything else will naturally happen.