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Interview with director Pawel Olearczyk

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

It is really hard to recall a particular event. I have always loved film and television. As a kid I used to pretend my puppets are running talk-show’s and interviewing guests on camera. Like many kids I have acted a bit in some school plays, but with time I started to have a desire of speaking my own lines and not the ones someone put into my mouth.

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

It really depends. Sometimes you just need to be at the right place in the right time. Nowadays filmmakers are experimenting a lot and trying to go off the beaten track to look for new solutions. A lot of that knowledge you will not get from school. The best school is to start making movies. Practice will teach you much more than some old and used concepts from the book. However, as some people say, to break the rules you need to know the rules first. There is no right or wrong answer to that question.

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

Again, it really depends what kind of movies you want to do. In some areas making a second film is as hard as making a first film or even harder in case your first film is a flop. As they say in Hollywood you are only as good as your last movie, so keep going!

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

The most important lesson is that if something is not going as planned it doesn’t have to be bad. I do not want to get into details in here as this is about a private relationship between some crew members, but we had one scene in the script which we were not able to film on a day when it was suppose to happen. That’s why, just in case I have written an alternative version of that scene in case the second attempt for that scene would fail. We ended up shooting an alternative version because after reading it, me and the crew have decided that it is actually better than the original. It is because limitations require you to be more creative. Lesson learned.

  • 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 think I have already answered that in the previous question.

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

I hate editing. I always have trouble making a decision which shot to choose as sometimes they look very similar. That’s why I do not edit my own movies. However, as a director I had to make some difficult decisions in that area. The main question for me was if people will understand the message. Some shots could affect the viewers perception of the story and I had to decide which shot will stick to the message I want to spread in the best way. It also had to be a way which people would understand, but at the same time it couldn’t be too obvious. To help myself with that I have organized some private screenings to observe if the story is understandable. Making it too obvious would make viewers bored and not challenged and I wanted to avoid that result. I’m really grateful to all those people who have seen the previous version of the movie. Thank you!

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

Most of the crew members I have already knew from other movie sets. With some of them I have worked previously on various productions in which I have mostly acted. When I was in preproduction of my movie and acting somewhere I used to chat with some crew members and tell them about my idea and ask if they are interested. Obviously, I only presented the idea to those with whom I was going alone and seeing that they are doing a great work. Making a directorial debut is a little bit scary, so I had to be sure that my crew will be there for me when I need them. They also helped tremendously because I was open for suggestions. Everyone was welcome to share there point of view on the story with me and me as a director was there to decide if that idea is good or bad, but  no matter what they were able to share their thoughts which made them feel valuable.

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

Audience is a very wide term and hard to put under one label. What I know and what I think is true is that you cannot try to please everybody. If you put something for everyone in a movie it will never be outstanding. It might end up good and likeable, but it will never be great. Great films are unique. In other words and pardon my French, when your movie is trying to please everybody it becomes a whore.

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

I’m just starting with film festivals, so I do not have plenty of experience in that area, but so far I would say that the best part of film festivals is the possibility to meet with other filmmakers. That meetings can often lead to many fantastic collaborations. You don’t have to be a winner to win at a film festival.

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

Let’s take a look at Hollywood and see how being original is working for them. Of course you should be original. Nowadays it feels like Hollywood is only making remakes, reboots and sequels. I always appreciate a good original story, but I also do know that remake can be either good or bad, so it’s not really a matter of originality, but the matter of quality.