My guerilla operation in film making jungle seams to be making no progress, seen from the outside.
That is mainly because all the films’ participants, from the starting point on, haven’t done anything appart from saying “yess” to me, when I asked them to work with me on this. Basically, I do all the work. In preparations. I make all the calls, I visit all the places, I compare all the given dates, I get the equipment, I think of all the props… if I cannot find all the props, I have to make them myself, or purchase them. I have to write all the letters to ask for different locations… then call, ask, beg, go, wait, rewrite letters to their taste, go, bring, wait, get the stemp…
oops, he or she cannot come for the shoot on that day, so I go again, write letters bring, beg, wait, get the stemp… costumes, ok, I need this and that, I have to find it, borow, or take from my own wardrob if I have it, or I get to be lucky if people acting in my film have pieces of clothes in their private wardrob that match my needs… then I have to persuade my actors, those with whom I have rehearsed already, that there is a reason for certain lines to be the way they are… “this is pissing me off, it doesn’t sound nice”… “well, it’s not there to sound nice! it is there as academic high style language, theoretic language, because your caracther is a professor, giving a lecture on university at that particular moment. so, we do not give a shit if those two sentences are not fully understood by everybody! the main information will be understood: professor gives a lecture, and one student dares to confront her with a different opinion. for those who fully understand every word, we have to be punctual, in theoretical discours, we cannot make it casual or vague…” “but i don’t like how the word structure sounds. what does it mean, anyways?”… “simply, structure is something consisting of more singular elements; when you join those single elements together in certain order, when you construct access of those elements to one an other, asigning certain chierarchy among them, you get a structure.. it can be applied to material world, as well as to more abstract one…” Seriously, I felt at some stage I was fighting to educate people just like that. my own film seamed so far away in that fight to persuade my actors (or some of them) to respect their lines. I mean, on rehearsals I get flexible when I hear and feel the lines spoken out, I am open to suggestions, but here I had to really educate people, because I cannot allow them to banalize ideas that don’t even belong to me. and she was excited to play the young professor, she was fighting for that role with all her hart, fighting and begging, instead of accepting the other part she was offered, a simple woman in her mid 30ies, who is bitter because she spent her whole life raising a child that she got at 18, while all she wanted was freedom in her young age… ok, play the professor, but do not argue over two lines you don’t understand! Accept them, accept that professors use that language when they are teaching modern theories, learn a bit about it, before you start this fight for simple everyday language! The unbelieveble thing is that this issue lasted for 5 days, until she admitted that she just didn’t understand those two lines! In the meantime, i kept looking for other actors, for locations… all the promisses to help me in preparations vanished along with people… everybody wants just to come to the set where everything is ready. and at the bottom line, i remain the only one to make everything ready. that is painfull. i wish i didn’t count with any help around preparations, because i get a little disapointed to see my self alone in this. oh, i do get words of encouragement. because, everybody who is in this film with me, wants to see it done. some really want to sign their names on a feature fiction film. In reality, half of the signatures should be mine. I already played my part, as a character in this film, but i will have to play one more (i filmed myself as the author narrating the story, now i have to direct the big part, the actual story i’m narating). so, the above mentioned bitter woman… no actress wants to play her. because she is not the pretty one, because she lives in poverty, in hard conditions, a neglected woman… actresses here want to be pretty in their parts. even good actresses, like mine lead acress is. so, i stopped fighting their vanities, stopped chaising their dates that never fit any plan i make, i cut off my hair, and as narator, i will add in a line like: ok, i imagine in this low, or no budget production, i will have to play the neglected woman myself, because noone will want to do it. so ok, I studied a lot of acting in Russia, while doing directors’ course, it will be of some use this time… and it’s done. i found, i think, a perfect solution for simple production: the fact that i am thinking of the story as film develops, justifies why scenes are reduced to their essence, why there is no baroque, rich set design… it is like a main line of the story that matters. I sometimes go one way, but decide to change something in the scene or sequence for a logical reason. I play with my structure, it often has humor in the way i play with it, but i also tell the full story, i bring out my big idea, and conditioned simplicity works for the story.
plus, i get my desired difference in treating “reality” shots, of author thinking here and today, and of “fiction” shots of my thriller story. I really take joy in playing with this structure. And I confide the most in my coleegue, who wrote the first draft of the thriller around it. I was oh so flattered when he offered to do it! Because, seeing my original material and the 25 minutes film I made, all the people whose opinion I highly value said that i had to do something more with it, to make it more visible. because shorts – nobody watches. and they all thought that what i already had, has to be seen, more visible, acsessible… so there were several plans how to do it. and i chose for Sasa’s idea first. So he gave me the text, I worked on it, and now we have the fully developed script, with 1/4 or even 1/3 of the film shot! He is also going to be in it, playing one of the supporting roles.
Anyhow, there are still things in front of me to do. I hear my actors saying: just start it, start filming. from their perspective, it is eay. they come in, after rehearsing with me and their partners in scenes, and they act. But I cannot find the words to explain to them that to build up conditions for a fiction film on my own is a hell of a job! I have to eat up a lot of shit, only to get to do my job. and when i get to it, i do not want to be exhausted! when i prepare everything and everybody, i want one day just for myself. because everybody will need me at the set, or else they will do something incoherent, if i am tired or not watching over every detail. i have no assistant, no organizer, no costume or stage designer, no prop assistant, no secretary, no script girl… i do all those jobs, plus i direct! And i don’t want to allow that too much of other work makes me one bit less concentrated on directing. I will have it my way. that’s me. when one would think i am all worn out, tired and broken by administration, banalities, all the many little things, when one thinks it would be possible to get me to do things some other way – I am strong, fully aware, ready to work and give all I can. So, the shooting hasn’t started yet. it is the matter of days, now. but i am getting there. and i think that it will last for 10 days. i will have strength to do it at once, 10 days in a raw. but i know something will occure, and we will make one or two short breaks. amd i know i have the crew i wouldn’t change! I put my trust in the two camerawomen, they are getting better with every film we nake together. The last one was almost perfect, so this coming one will be! and i will have the shooting done by the end of the month, like i planed. then the crew will rest, after 10 working days, and they will have their jobs done. not me. i will then have at least a month of editing the film… and all the postproduction! that is the curse of being guerilla film director. i work more then all the crew together. i don’t sleep, i sometimes eat, i have headaches, all the warries… and i make “our” film. This is no complaint. I simply reveal another part of technology of my work, which becomes my life, when i do it. I see conditions I have, and i fight my way to get about 20 people (crew+actors) to do what i want for 10 days. then i get a couple of people to do what i want for one month. before that, i was fighting for conditions to be able to gather them around. i was fighting for a ridiculously small amount of money to purchaise basic equipment. credit, it is called. i will be paying it back for the next 5 years, with interest. again alone. But, hey, until recently i didn’t know it willl happen for sure, so i was depending on where and when I could borrow equipment. and now, I can produce!
this also tells how strongly i believe that i am supposed to make films, eventhough my state would rather hide my films then show them. i know that from experience, even when German ARTE chanel produced one feature documentary of mine, and it was well accepted everywhere where i got to show it, in belgrade i showed it only once, on Authors’ film festival: on that occasion, I got a FIPRESCI award (international award of critics). Normally, all domestic festivals and televisions should have invited me to show my film, hey, nobody had to pay a penny, and there was an excellent film just offered as a present to our poor film culture! But instead, a lot of film people here, more established, very established, even, started avoiding me, turning their heads away when i say hello to them. I figured out, I am some kind of a threat. I am a nobody with no support, and still can make a film that kicks ass! I am not wellcome to the film world of serbia, that has its directors, yearly budget just big enough for the chosen small crowed of directors, and that’s all, end of story. no place nor money for somebody different. they rather chose a young representative to make same old things, but “young” covers for “new” or “different”… same old transparent trap of division into generations… no, i do not represent my generation, nor feel represented by filmmakers of my generation. I alie with people on different levels, more important then our age:) long live varieties of taste, ideas, and system of values!
I will be gone again for a while, because this is my life struggle. I will try to make one or two short posts about the shooting!
all photos by: Jelena Markovic