Orges Bakalli is a New York based independent writer, director, producer and editor. Originally born in Shkodër, Albania, Orges moved to the U.S at a very young age. It was in New York where he discovered a passion for cinema.
As a teenager, Orges began making films with Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, a non-profit organization based in Brooklyn with other talented young filmmakers. Liri, (freedom) his first project with Reel Works was a short documentary about his uncle’s struggles as a painter in Communist Albania. The doc was nominated for the prestigious John F. Outcalt award in 2012, and aired on Channel 25 NYC Life the same year.
Orges’ next project with Reel Works was a documentary about the high dropout rates in the New York City public school system. American Dropout aired on Channel 13 in September of 2012.
His follow-up project would be his first foray into fiction filmmaking; Made in Amerika. The short film revolved around a recently arrived immigrant who fights to remain the primary breadwinner of the household. The film received countless accolades, including being nominated for the John F. Outcalt award in 2014, screening at the Albanian Film Festival and airing on BRIC TV and Channel 25 NYC Life.
In 2014, Orges was selected to participate in the One Race Global Film Foundation Summer Intensive Program, a highly competative two week program sponsored by Vin Diesel’s non-profit organization. Working together with other very talented young filmmakers, Orges made Life of the Party, a short comedy about a young man who must his overcome his uncontrollable social media addiction in order to talk to the girl of his dreams.
Orges’ latest film, My Name is Somebody, was shown at the 2017 Cannes Short Film Corner, was nominated for the Directing award at the 35th Annual Brooklyn College Film Festival, and the NBR Grant for Outstanding Filmmaking.
Hollywood Insider Interview with the multi-talented Orges Bakalli
Hollywood World: What was the most significant decision in shooting your current film?
Orges Bakalli: The most significant decision was definitely choosing the people who were going to work on the film. I wanted none other than the best, and I was fortunate enough to find the best.
Hollywood World: What part of the script/story best stood out for you and why?
Orges Bakalli: The inner conflict that the protagonist faces. He is stuck between the past and the future, and so desperately wants to reconcile both, but he cannot. He is forced to choose. That is very personal to me.
Hollywood World: Without giving it away, tell us a little bit more about the characters and the lead actors.
Orges Bakalli: The film is about a “good man” whose life is disrupted by an imposition 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.
Hollywood World: How do you bring this story to life while staying true to your vision as director?
Orges Bakalli: Trying to get your “vision” up on screen is the name of the game. It almost never manifests the way you want it to. Compromise is important, and knowing which battles to fight and which ones not to is crucial.
Hollywood World: What excites you about this project?
Orges Bakalli: I like that it is very much a “genre” film. I am not one of those people who thinks genre pieces are inferior to “art” films. Some of my favorite films are genre films, and anyone who looks down on them is in denial.
Hollywood World: What other works are you most proud of?
Orges Bakalli: Made in Amerika. I like how that little film turned out.
Hollywood World: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Orges Bakalli: Goodfellas because it made me conscious of what a director does. And Persona, which shattered that notion.
Hollywood World: What do you do to enhance the collaborative process when working with actors, screenwriters, producers and other creative members?
Orges Bakalli: Ask questions. Ask tons and tons of questions. Even when disagreeing with others, it is important to frame your concerns in the form of questions, instead of being combative. That never ends well.
Hollywood World: What experiences have you learned from in life? How did that change you and your creative process and the way you go about making films?
Orges Bakalli: Immigrating to another country obviously changed me the most. It made me realize how constructed the world is, and how things like language, culture, and values are so fluid and ever changing. I try to bring that perspective to everything I do.
Hollywood World: How do you see your role as a filmmaker?
Orges Bakalli: A teacher I once had referred to a film as a cell, the filmmaker the nucleus, the cast and crew the protons and electrons. Without any of those things, the cell can’t function properly.
Hollywood World: Which film festivals that you have been part of would you recommend to other filmmakers looking to screen his/her films?
Orges Bakalli: My Name is Somebody will be playing the New York Short Film Fest this November. While only in its second year, it is a great little festival that showcases some truly great short work from seasoned and first-time filmmakers alike. I recommend it to anyone trying to get his or her work out there.
Hollywood World: Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? What message do you want to convey with your films?
Orges Bakalli: That is such an important question, and one that I struggle with myself. Filmmaking is such a powerful tool, and can be so easily abused in the Leni Riefenstahl sense. At the same time, freedom of speech is important as well and we must protect it at any cost. The answer I believe, lies somewhere in middle.
Hollywood World: What other hobbies do you have?
Orges Bakalli: As a Queens boy, handball was everything to me growing up. Suffice to say, I don’t play as much as I should anymore, but I’m trying to get back into it. Lord knows I’m trying.
Hollywood World: What do you want to be remembered for in life? What valuable lessons have you learned that helped you become the person you are today?
Orges Bakalli: Oh boy. I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead. Hopefully, if I am fortunate enough to be remembered at all, it would be as that Albanian guy who made some good little films those couple of times.
Hollywood World: What are your top five principles of success?
Orges Bakalli: Be bold. Be brave. Be generous. Be thoughtful. Be relentless.
Hollywood World: What’s next?
Orges Bakalli: 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.