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Interview with director Sven Greif

Since the first start as a video editor, then motion designer, I’ve developed a love for directing and making ideas come to life.

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Since they made it possible

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

I have always had a connection with storytelling since I started as a video editor. I loved the concept of a story growing in your mind and becoming reality with which, you can influence and sometimes inspire people. Since I have always been in the field of video – starting as a video editor, then working as a motion designer, I knew that I would love to make something that reflects me as a storyteller. So, I wouldn’t say that there was a particular event, just developing the love for what I’m doing.

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

No. I don’t think so. I think that storytelling as a filmmaker is not something you can learn. It’s something you feel, and a way to express yourself. Even though you might just be an ordinary person who doesn’t have a fancy degree in filmmaking, you can also make a good film as someone who has the proper education. I don’t mean that film institutes are bad, I just think that filmmaking is something you have. The only limitation is lack of creativity.

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

That’s a good question. I guess it’s the start. Because filmmaking business is pretty competitive. First you must gain trust and respect from people to hire you for a project. Also, the toughest process at the beginning is creating or finding your genre of storytelling and adapting your work to business needs. After all, you can make the best films, but at the end of the day, if it means you’re losing money, it’s something you can’t do forever. Sometimes a passion project is a great idea, but you need to keep your head above the surface to stop you from drowning.

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

That you should always do what you think is right. There are moments when you are under pressure and you must work on your vision, after all you are the storyteller and you know what you’re trying to convey.  In my case, the lesson happened after I’ve gathered the people I wanted to work with and get them to know and understand the idea I have been going for. People that you work with are usually very creative people, who might want to do something differently, therefore, embracing new ideas had a positive impact on the making of this film. You might think of this as a ship – you are the captain and you know where you are going.   

  • 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?

A lot of things. As I started on the project there have been so many things I wanted to do. But the reality kicks in and makes you realize that some aspects and visions must be adapted. The production budget has been tight the whole time, so we needed to adjust the costs along the filming process. You must have problem solving things and keep yourself and the whole project organized.

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

There were tough decisions along the way. We needed to adjust the film due to budget limitations and other factors. But the hardest artistic choice I would say, was that we had a very limited time for shooting on several locations, which led to artistic adjustments.

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

The process of finding the right people for the job has not been easy. We had to keep in mind that we have a tight budget, so I wanted to find people with the same vision for the project. From the very beginning, I knew that the people I wanted on board need to be passionate and imaginative. Luckily, I met Igor – our DOP – who instantly had the same vision as me and helped me bring the whole project to life. He also has a great production team that is good at their job. It was a win-win.

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

It is tough to say. I believe that for every genre there is an audience for it. I think that a filmmaker should primarily focus on making a film in which they believe in. If someone’s passion and hard work emits from a project, it’s something that will undoubtedly attract an audience.

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

At first, I didn’t believe in film festivals, but after a while, I discovered that film festivals can bring so much more to the table than you can imagine. For now, I can say that I have been blessed with such a great response and an overall good vibe. I wouldn’t say that they are a necessity, but they can be a positive thing when finding your creative path. If you don’t believe in your film at the start, there is little chance that others will. Being humble is a virtue but believing in something you made is the beginning of growing stronger as a filmmaker.

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

Of course, I think that filmmakers should be fresh because the classics had to be something new at some point in time. I think that discovering novelties is healthy for the evolution of film and should be embraced. If we keep on “moving”, we can get to new places and discover great things.