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Interview with director Jan Čapar

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

Probably my birth because I’ve always been telling stories. That’s what I love to do – be it in writing, making music or animation films.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

No. Film is a form of art. And the essence of art, the inspiration and love for what you do, can’t be learned. It can be helpful to be in a place where you can experiment and try out things without financial pressure though.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

If you really love what you’re doing, if you really have something to tell than neither is hard – it’s just necessary. But film making is made up of so many moving parts, ideas and fields of work – you just have to pick one thing and get started with that. And out of that many other things will grow and the film production will keep moving forwards.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

Storytelling. It’s all about storytelling. Don’t start film production unless you really know what you want to tell. That’s the most fundamental part of the film.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

I made this film mostly by myself. And I didn’t know much about stop motion animation at that time. It was learning by doing. It was just one big experiment. The film took nine months of shooting and animating and for three months (during a course in film school) I had to lead a small team of fellow students that have never had any contact with the work of stop motion animation. So as you can imagine it was a little wild at times, like a journey into the unknown. But I think that’s the right place to be in. If you’re not in the place of the unknown than you’re not really creative.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

The film tells a story about tourettes syndrome. So additionally to learning how to do stop motion animation I also had to incorporate the tics of the protagonist and make them look natural and real.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

I’m not a collaborator. I made this film mostly on my own. But my dad helped me a lot with the set design and puppet building. Because he’s really great with those kind of things.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

At first no. As filmmakers we have to find our own inspiration – only then is what we do and tell true. And what makes a film or a piece of art great is its truth. But practically – when making a movie – yes. I mean a film wants to be seen, it’s made for audiences. So while shooting the film it’s the filmmakers job to not only look through his own eyes but to also have the audience in mind while telling the story.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

As filmmakers we want to tell stories. And stories want to be heard and seen. That’s why film festivals are important and great. How to get the most out of them? Probably by making a good film, by being present during the screening and engaging with the audience and by being interested in the interaction between film and audience and the thoughts and emotions this interaction might spark.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

This is not an either – or. None of those two approaches is better or worse than the other. This question should be left to each individual filmmaker. And even more so to each individual film project and its story. You know, in the end it’s always the story that directs the movie.