Young Greek Filmmaker Kostas Chaliasas Makes Name for Himself in US

Kostas Chaliasas is just 20 years old, but he’s already had many of his short films screened at festivals across the U.S.

When the budding filmmaker was in third grade, he made a fake camera out of paper and carton so he could make pretend movies. A year later, his parents realized it was time to turn that paper creation into something real and bought him his very first camera; there began the start of a bright future.

Winning the Young Filmmakers Competition at the Austin Film Festival, Chaliasas is quite an inspiring young talent. Originally from Ioannina, he now lives in Thessaloniki studying Composition in the Department of Music Studies at Aristotle University. While he works with film industry professionals and constantly tosses around script ideas with a friend of his, he is always looking to gain more knowledge and skills to hone his craft.

Greek Reporter recently spoke to Chaliasis about his influences, filmmaking, and what’s in store for the future.

When did you make your first short film?

As soon as I purchased my first camera I made several efforts on shooting various short films, but my first serious festival participation effort was at the age of 13 with the film “Friendship Without Borders.”

Did your parents encourage you to be a filmmaker?

In the beginning, my parents perceived my inclination as passing whim, but little by little they started admitting that there might have existed something deeper than a pastime activity. They had always been encouraging to the point that in all my films, my family takes an active part and actually my mother and my sister both participate in most of my films.

Three of your short films played at the Chicago Greek Film Fest. What was your initial reaction to having films you made being played for a large, public audience?

I felt extremely proud and fulfilled that my work had finally [been] appraised by a wider international audience!

One of your films, “Behind the Sun,” was screened at the Austin Film Festival and won the Young Filmmakers competition. What was that like?

The film entails a purely Greek theme, which initially I thought wouldn’t be well-received by an audience which was not well acquainted with the particular conditions in Greece at the time. Contrary to what I believed, my film was extremely well-received and this made me feel that I, by all means, wanted to keep on working as a cinematographer.

Where does the inspiration for your films come from?

I usually keep this as a secret, but this time I feel tempted to reply to this question as almost all my films consist of a mixture of autobiographical elements with moments of the history of my country, together with a certain expression of the beliefs I hold at every particular age I am.

Any plans to make a full-length feature film?

This dream of mine unfortunately seems too hard to be materialized for the time being as I am currently participating as an assistant director in a film created by Vassilis Katsikis, and I have come across all the financial hardships he is facing in order to complete his film. Therefore, I am of course inclined to make a full-length feature film. Still, I do not feel ready to dive into such deep waters yet.

Is there anyone you look up to/admire in the film industry, or anyone you would like to work with?

There are countless people I would like to refer to, both from the mainstream American film industry and the independent American cinema. Also, there a lot of European creators I do look up to. Alexander Payne, Roman Polanski, Costas Gavras, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, Pedro Almodovar, Woody Allen, Alejandro Amenabar, Jean Pierre Jeunet, and Yiorgos Lanthimos.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring young Greek filmmakers?

I think I am at a point of my life where I should be the one who could receive and appreciate a good piece of advice rather than give one.

Here is a short film, “Raus,” Chaliasas made about the economic crisis: