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[Interview] – Ashley Tabatabai – ‘Falsified’ – A Feature Film


Posted December 12, 2017 by

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Ashley Tabatabai’s short film was inspired by one of Spain’s best-kept secrets, the stolen babies scandal, also known as ‘Los Niños Robados’ or ‘The Lost Children of Francoism’. This exciting drama stars Ashley Tabatabai (Allies), Mitchell Mullen (Starz Outlander), newcomer Julia Leyland and Mike Archer (The Genius of Turner).

After over 30 years of searching, Henry finally believes he has found the son who was stolen from him at birth during Spain’s stolen babies scandal. Now in London, he is trying to find his long lost son who he believes is Javier. Will he force Javier to reopen this painful chapter of his life, or will Henry leave never knowing his son?

The film won the Gold Award for Best Short Film and Best Cinematography in LA Shorts Film Fest.

Director Barney Cokeliss beautiful and evocative film Night Dancing was selected to world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival and will have its UK premiere at the forthcoming 2018 the British Short Film Festival. The film stars Jason Thorpe (Fast and Furious 6), Louise Tanoto (Tom Dale Company), Jacob Ingram-Dodd (Punchdrunk) and Alister Cameron (Foyle’s War).



To being with, tell us about your latest film ‘Falsified’, what is it about?

Falsified follows the journey of a man whose son was stolen at birth and now believes he has finally found his long lost child after over 30 years. It’s inspired by Spain’s stolen babies scandal, Los Niños Robados.

Who is directing the film? Who are your co-stars?

I brought on Stefan Fairlamb to Direct and Edit the film. We’ve known each other for many years and he has a great technical eye for filmmaking that was a huge asset to the project. From my side, having that person to bounce ideas off in pre-production was amazing. And on set I wanted to ensure my focus was purely on my performance. The best way to describe the dynamic is that I was like the Showrunner and Stefan was the Director of the “episode”.

Starring alongside me is the amazing Mitchell Mullen. He’s worked for years across Film, TV and Theatre and it was a gift to have him be a part of the project. For me personally, it was particular honor as Mitch was my acting teacher for almost 3 years. I was a little unsure how the dynamic would play out when it came to working together on set. But that transition from teacher/student to co-stars was easy and fluid. That’s a massive testament to how Mitch approaches the work and his dedication to exploring each moment for what it is.

As well as your involvement as the leading actor, you also produced and wrote the film – did you always have yourself in mind as the lead?

Well, I don’t actually see my character as the lead of the film. Co-Lead perhaps. However, if we’re looking for a more defined protagonist we’d find it in Mitch’s character Henry. Now, I did start out trying to write the piece around my own character. And the story was interesting. However, it was much more compelling to follow the father, to see what he has lost, and the mission he has been on for decades to uncover the truth. It was an easy decision to put the actors ego aside in favor of the best story.

What are your influences as an actor and a filmmaker?

I’m going to risk sounding twee, but so be it. I believe that my greatest influence is life. All of its experiences, challenges, ups and downs are the well that an artist creates from. And really, that’s true of anyone in any walk of life. The moments you’ve lived are the greatest source of inspiration.

What advice would you give to any up-and-coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

Don’t try to crack the industry. Everything is mindset, no matter what you do. So, I’d say, be patient, work hard and continue to create work. People like the Duplas brothers are great examples of just making your own work. You refine your talent by consistently working at it. That’s how you evolve. Denzel Washington gave a now pretty famous speech at the NAACP Image Awards, and in it referenced Barry Jenkins, amongst others. Stating that he had done 10 to 20 short films before getting to direct “Moonlight”. That’s loving what you do. That’s having a reason for why you do what you do. Find that out for yourself and eventually, when the moment is right, the industry will come to you.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge or barrier throughout your career? How did you overcome it?

I was trying really hard to answer this, and was firing blanks. I’ve never really looked at things in that way. There is no challenge that is external and derived from my career. Any and all challenges I’ve come across have been of my own making, my own ways of thinking. As an artist you’re called to explore and express truth. And naturally in life we are all called to face up to the truth. For me, those “barriers” for lack of a better term, are simply signposts to the next step along the journey. The way I’m moving past those points? Dedicating time towards self-awareness. It’s mindset again.

When & where can we expect to see Falsified?

We’ve just had our East Coast premiere at the DC Shorts Film Festival. We have a host of other festivals we’re waiting to hear back from that take place towards the end of 2017. The best bet would be to follow the film on Twitter @FalsifiedFilm or myself @AshleyTabatabai for updates. We’ll then be looking at online distribution from around April of next year.

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films in production?

In the immediate future I’m focusing on enjoying the festival run for Falsified. One the dust has settled there I’m going to look at the feature film version of the short. It was not set out to go down that road. But the reality is that there are so many aspects to the stolen babies scandal to be explored. A feature would be a great platform to do that, and I actually have most of the expanded story of the short from the different versions of the script I went through. I’m also in the very early stages of development on a short called “Without Notice” with Adam Lyons, who is the Cinematographer on Falsified.


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