"I find humanity to be forever fascinating and use film to uncover some of its secrets, sharing my findings with the world in hope that it might help them get closer to their inner truth and happiness in the process."
What do you do?
I am a film director and a screenwriter. I’ve also been known to edit and produce my own films, shop for costumes, hold lights, run catering, and expertly lie to the police about who put those cones blocking the street without a permit, amongst many other hats. Such is a life of the independent filmmaker. Any pride and ego you might have had coming in get trampled by the vision of making the best film possible, and as long as you love it, no task it asks you to perform is too hard or too crazy. Not even getting up at 3am on a freezing winter day to stand around in a park and shoot a handful of actresses dancing in gauzy dresses, praying they don’t get frostbite as the wind that whips them to tears also makes the images so damn beautiful you can cry.
How did you get there?
According to my mother, I just walked in one day, at the age of 8, and declared I was going to be a film director. My parents were business people, but loved and supported the arts, and never once told me I could not pursue my dream. I am eternally grateful to them for this, and firmly believe I would not be where I am now without them and their support. When I was 14, however, a war broke out in my home country of Bosnia and I found myself parentless for the first 9 months of my exile. Things could have gone many different ways, but my path lead to theatre. Realizing there was no magazine dedicated to it in all of Croatia (my country of refuge), I recruited a handful of friends and launched one, landing a job in a theatre company in the process. Bitten by that bug, I spent the next 10 years dedicated to perfecting my directing on NYC stages, but in 2003 my path came to yet another fork and I (yet again) chose the unfamiliar turn. The result was my first film, a feature documentary “Back to Bosnia,” which premiered at the AFI Fest in 2005, launching my filmmaking career. Seven years later and a number of films under my belt, I now have a fantastic manager and am looking to shoot my first feature film, “Summer Abroad,” this July.
Reading this, it all sounds so easy, but trust me not one step of it was. Sure, I was lucky in knowing what I wanted to do at such a young age, but that was just the beginning. Having the stubborn persistence in pursuing it, even when faced with war, exile, living on welfare, and not having any connections whatsoever in the industry, is really where that initial luck was harshly tested. All in all it was, and still remains, a hard path, full of twists and turns, but I would not trade it in for anything. At the end of the day, working this hard for something I love beats working much less for something I don’t. And I can’t wait to see where it leads me next!
Why do you like it?
Making films is one of those professions that gets you bonus points at cocktail parties. That is until the other person starts comparing you to Spielberg and all you can do is stand there and smile, wishing it was that easy. Sure, being a filmmaker has its glamourous moments, but for the most part it’s just hard work. Long hours, no money, and almost daily exposure to rejection and brutal criticism. So why do it? Because nothing in this world makes me happier than standing on the set of my film, seeing the world I’ve only dreamt of thus far, come to life. And then, many months later, seeing the audience’s faces light up or get teary, when they recognize this moment from my dreams as one of their own as well. I find humanity to be forever fascinating and use film to uncover some of its secrets, sharing my findings with the world in hope that it might help them get closer to their inner truth and happiness in the process.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Before that fateful declaration at the age of 8, my dream was to be a writer. I learned how to read when I was 4 and devoured books as a hobby. I wrote short stories and poems for the school paper and even a novella when I was 12. But I was also a passionate superhero lover and desperately wanted to meet Tarzan, so he could teach me how to be just like him. I still remember the day I was told that Tarzan was dead. It was my parents’ way of making me realize that the actor I was identifying with was just that - an actor. Who died. I sobbed for a week.