Synopsis: Inspired by his favorite comic book heroes, a young boy tries to save the day.
How did the film come about and where did the idea come from?
I just received the script from a friend, Doru Lupeanu. He’s a great storyteller. He’s now moved to Canada. I was so deeply moved by this story. I really had to do make the film because I was moved by a script just five to six pages in length. I thought that I would find a great little kid and it will all work out by itself somehow. I was sure that the whole thing was about doing a very simple direction and not trying to overdo things by really focusing on the character of the little kid.
So onto the child. How did you find him?
I’d say this film was one of the most horrible filming experiences I’ve had. I couldn’t actually direct the child so everything was improvised. The crew had to adapt a pace according to his rhythms and preferences. If he wanted to shoot, we shoot. If he didn’t, we just stopped and took a break. He was taking the whole shoot as a funny experience. He was even calling me: “Hey director, do this or not”. It was all about him. He just knew some basic things regarding the story: his mother is ill and he loves the cartoon characters. He knew some big things about the script but we were trying to pretend that we were playing.
He’s very young.
This kid was obviously too young to play the character but given all the other options, it was immaterial. Even a 6-year-old knows so many things about life and has access to all gadgets. I thought even though it will be harder work, I would rather take a 3-year-old kid. He’s great but there was a lot of work involved. We actually rehearsed the bigger scenes and the situations. But what made it work was the intelligence of the main actor who’s a great, great Romanian actor. He knew how to interfere and how to deal with the situation with the kid and we talked about all possible options. So it was, let’s say, a very conditioned improvisational process.
I saw the kid a year later and I asked him “What do you want to do, would you do it again?” and he said “Of course, I had so much fun so why not.” He’s really great.
Did working with such a young child entail other adjustments?
I wanted to shoot in another location, not in the capital Bucharest where I ended up. I wanted to do it in my hometown of Kluge. It’s in the middle of Transylvania where I was born. I was going to schools in Kluge looking for a young kid but I ended up in the international school in Bucharest where I met his parents.
How many short films have you made and how long have you been working in film?
I went to the film academy in Bucharest and I did around five or six shorts before my first feature film in 2006. I did a film called Love Sick that premiered in Berlin’s International Film Festival, drama section. Since then I was mostly working in production but I always wanted to go back to my directorial background. It happened when I really found this great short film script. I also shot my second feature film, Of Snails and Men, which hopefully will be released this autumn both locally and internationally. It’s a funny story, like a Romanian Full Monty, about some workers who are trying to save their factory by donating their sperm.
There is a wonderful wave of talent from Romania. Do you know why?
Romania changed so dramatically in a short period of time, first politically at the end of the 1980’s, then again in1989/1990. My generation was 16, 17, 18 years old at the time. In the past 20 years, many parts of our country were reconstructed and began regenerating. It created a great time for artists and filmmakers, especially to be able to really observe all these little details of the daily life of the Romanian people. We didn’t have Hollywood budgets to do science fiction or big epic films so I think most of these films are really traditional studies about a divorce or abortion. I won’t call them simple things. Subjects that are very human. The film that I really love the most is called Death of Mr. Lazarescu. It depicts the last moments of a man who is dying and his relations with hospitals. It was directed by Christi Puiu. It was in Cannes in 2007/2008. It’s very human. It doesn’t matter where you live. We are all having the same relationships or the same fears and problems, and so on.
Getting back to your short film. It was just a five to six page screenplay. Do you find short films scripts hard to evaluate?
I think it’s so difficult to evaluate a script for a short film. Sometimes a 100-page feature script is easier to evaluate. I think with a short is difficult to get it and it needs a lot of attention. I think it’s a lot about the director as well, his vision, his intelligence and his talent. It’s the combination of everything to transform a short story into a film. I do think it’s very difficult.
How many short films have you made?
In total, six short films. With this short, I honestly felt like an intruder into the short film world because I was so into preparing my second feature film. Just the fact that I fell in love with the story and with the script made me want to do the short film. Otherwise I wouldn’t do it.
What advice would you give to someone who is about to make his or her first short film?
The best thing is to be honest with yourself and do not try to imitate anybody. When you look in the mirror, ask yourself why you are doing this film. If you find the reason, it will help you a lot while you are on the set talking to the actors, your crew, and so on.
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