Why directing? Why film? This is a tough question. It started in my childhood. I was fascinated by film, by the screen, by the space. How some people just sit down in a dark room, and look at the white canvas which has images. Those images move, and with their movement, they transmit meaning. I think that was all I needed to be convinced.
What attracted your attention to the story that made Deaf rock’n’roll? I saw a 40-year-old woman on a train, selling incense. There are a lot of people who sell crap on trains. But this one was selling incense sticks, one by one. Her attitude was positive, playful, and honest. The scene that opens the film was taken from reality. I started my story there. I wanted to see where I could take her character.
How long did it take you to raise the money for the film? How did you do it? It took me 4 months. I made a presentation of the film, a brochure. I went to people with the project. I’d never done this before; I had no previous experience with raising money. I just knew I wanted to make this film. And I didn’t care who I had to see. I was open and positive about it. People are open, but it’s hard to make them give you money. Especially now that they themselves don’t have much. Sometimes they don’t understand the film. And it’s true, I can’t guarantee their publicity. I can’t give much back. Raising money for film in Romania is something very new. The usual way of obtaining money is from national funds of production companies, big businesses.
Do you have a team? How do you work? I put a lot of emphasis on teamwork. I met most of my teammates in school. We’ve worked together before. We had a lot of meetings; we talked about what I wanted to show at the end. We had projections of other movies, we debated, we confronted each other. One month before the shooting, I started working with the actors. I got tired of looking for sponsorship.
You used a lot of sound design, while depicting a character who is deaf. 70% of the film is made by sound. Hearing and music influence our feelings. I wanted to see how much you lose or how much you might win if you don’t hear. So, a big part of the film has a lot of sound elements. Then there’s nothing. When you lose something, then you get it back, maybe you learn to appreciate it more. I gave a lot of thought to this. At first you hear the sound, then you see the character and situation where it comes from. If you pay attention, you understand everything through sound. Sounds create a world in which Ana, the character who is deaf, does not take part.
How many people worked on your film? About 100, counting the film crew, actors and extras.
What do you think is necessary to be taken seriously as a young filmmaker? Nowadays you "take a camera, shoot something, show it to someone" (Godard). You have to believe in it, take it seriously. Work hard, make your team believe in it, too. Working with professional actors helps, too. People start taking you seriously. Quality is very important. I don’t believe in 100% performance. I still need to work and learn a lot. But there’s certainly no given formula. I knew what I wanted to do, when I started university. And I focused only on that. I have a thing. And I need to do it. I don’t know how it’s going to be from now on.
And now what? I hope TIFF was the first step. I want to show my film in several festivals, gain the attention of a certain kind of audience that goes to these festivals. When you send a film to a festival that’s already been accepted elsewhere… well, that’s already something. They look at it differently. It catches their eye.
Which gave you more: university education or your ability to learn independently? I think the school simply gathered the people I needed. It created the perfect environment. We became friends, I made my team. School showed me the resources, the people. Then I took along some people and we learned stuff together. I’ve worked with the DoP for 4 years now. And now we have a sound technician, too. We’re friends. We work together, we argue, we tease each other, but we’re a team. But all in all, I think I’m self-taught.
By Cristina Grosan