Born in Shkodër, Albania, but raised in Queens, New York, Orges Bakalli began making films at a very young age. Collaborating and working on various documentary and fiction films, Orges’ work has been shown at Channel 13, BRIC TV, Channel 25 NYC Life, MoMA, BAM, Albanian Film Week, New York Short Film Festival, and the Cannes Film Festival.
He has twice been nominated for the John F. Outcalt Award for Outstanding Filmmaking, the Achievement in Directing award at the 35th Annual Brooklyn College Film Festival, and the NBR Grant for Outstanding Filmmaking.
Meet the Artist: NY Elite Interview with Director Orges Bakalli
NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?
Orges Bakalli: My most recent short My Name is Somebody, is traveling the festival circuit now and I have another project in development.
NY Elite: What is the new film about?
Orges Bakalli: My Name is Somebody is about a “good man” whose life is disrupted by an imposing figure from his past. He is a guy who has tried to bury his past and omit it from his life completely, but as everyone knows, what stays hidden has a way of resurfacing in ugly ways.
NY Elite: What is different about being in the director’s chair with this project?
Orges Bakalli: I felt more comfortable directing this time around. After the great learning experience that was Made in Amerika, I felt more confident in my choices. It is also very important to always keep in mind that there is more to learn however.
NY Elite: Who are the film’s stars and which actors stood out?
Orges Bakalli: The film stars Artan Telqiu, Christina ‘Kit’ Vinsick and Tony Naumovski. It was great working with Artan again after Made in Amerika, but working with Tony was an entire different experience altogether. Tony is such a perfectionist that he pushed me in ways I hadn’t been before. I think I pushed him as well, and it created a great dynamic.
NY Elite: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Orges Bakalli: Any work that makes me forget I am viewing pictures on a screen projected through a light source is undoubtedly great for me.
NY Elite: What have you learned since your first film?
Orges Bakalli: Too much. I have learned to be more open-minded, more generous, and more thoughtful when dealing with others.
NY Elite: Have you thought about acting in your movies or in general?
Orges Bakalli: I have thought about it. Have even taken an acting class or two, but it is so difficult. Bearing your soul in front of the camera like that. I don’t envy it at all. I respect the hell out of actors for being able to do that.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite films/projects you have been involved in?
Orges Bakalli: The Bravest, the Boldest because it was the first film set I ever worked on. Made in Amerika because it was my first ever attempt at a narrative film. And most recently The Kindergarten Teacher because it was the first feature I worked nearly every day on, and met some truly wonderful people in the process.
NY Elite: Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
Orges Bakalli: Philip Roth, Marcel Duchamp, and Hideo Kojima. They are all geniuses in working in vastly different mediums.
NY Elite: What do you enjoy most about your job, your career?
Orges Bakalli: Creating a sandbox to play in and inviting all your friends to join. To be able to free yourself from the daily of the day-to-day grind is the most rewarding thing in the world.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
Orges Bakalli: As a kid, I loved to draw but have stopped in recent years. Have been trying to find the time to get back into it again.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking?
Orges Bakalli: You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice for it. Filmmaking is not something you can give only half of yourself to or do on the weekends. You have to give everything to it. And if you are lucky, it will give a little back.
NY Elite: Are you working on your next project now?
Orges Bakalli: Yes. I have just completed the first draft of my first feature length script and I am hoping to use the momentum of My Name is Somebody to generate interest in it.
NY Elite: What has been your personal key to success?
Orges Bakalli: Hard work and dedication. You’ve got to dedicate yourself. Otherwise, what’s the point?