Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Vladimir Ćosić, Creative Director, McCann Beograd
A doyen of Serbian film, director of many iconic works and professor at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, Miloš Miša Radivojević gave a series of lectures – a kind of master class – for creatives of the McCann Belgrade, including me, on the subject of film directing and visual arts in general. According to his own words, the intention of Professor Miša Radivojević was that these lectures cover “a wide and important field” not only of film, visual fantasy and art, but also of life and the reality in which we create. Since I was lucky enough to listen to lectures of Professor Radivojevic while I studied at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts, it would be an understatement to say that I rejoiced when I heard of this proposal. I knew in advance that this would not be a classic “lecture” about film direction, but literal and plastic expansion of horizons through cinema sessions with a top director, a man with an incredible experience and an excellent teacher who, by the way, directed my favorite Serbian film of all time “The Promising Boy”.
In addition to all the “tangible things” that I knew the creative from my team can get, I also had this additional, completely personal and unscrupulously egotistical reason for rejoicing. Together with the professor we asked ourselves the question: “What is actually film, and what are its essential elements?” What is necessary for a creative to go through this experience, this “tunnel”, and out into the sun on the other side of the hill, convinced that they can boldly and simply start or continue socializing with film in a new and original way, freed from the fears and prejudices that it takes years and a huge amount of effort, money, apprenticeship and hard studying? We searched, asked and provoked unambiguous and non-hypocritical answers and statements about the deepest and the most important questions of MEANING that is taken from us, or is lost through own negligence and cowardice.
The “old guard” director saw us, the agency people, as a serious “existential and evolutionary” result in the best period of life with “sealed” performances that are yet to explode. For him, we are all very firmly located in the present, with a view to the future, where the only thing that we lack is encouragement in our effort to maintain our own course and preserve a sense of freedom.
As a result of these lectures, the idea was born for this two-way interview in which a creative director of the agency will ask questions to legendary director and vice-versa. The idea was that in this way we get a text that could give a specific “double-angle” on common themes – view of art, advertising and reality of two different generations – a professor and his student – a film artist and an adman – a director and a screenwriter.
Through a timeless and essential dialogue about art and reality that surrounds us, we tried together to escape for a moment from the sea of meaningless and superficial information, to start to feel and listen to ourselves.
Vladimir Ćosić on MILOŠ MIŠA RADIVOJEVIĆ
Vladimir Ćosić: Professor, how are you these days? I haven’t seen you since 2004 when I graduated. Are you preparing some film?
Miša Radivojević: I don’t know how I am, dear Vlado? I feel relatively stable. The main organs are still serving me – legs, arms, body – they don’t work like they used to, not even like they did in that 2004 when you graduated, but the central organ of my nervous system works better than ever, and it fills me with pleasure. I know that this can’t last too long – this form of “emotion, experience, memory and imagination.”
So I keep myself „busy“ and still heat up my illusions – I assure myself that I still haven’t played my „match point“. I have fresh scenarios and ideas and try to improve and implement them, but in these times and circumstances, and especially in this in which we live, it’s difficult. But, OK, it’s important to “strive”. I’m ashamed to talk about how it would be important to me to close my creative path and my circle with a project or two, when the vast majority of people around me are barely surviving and barely make ends meet.
Vladimir Ćosić: Where did the idea to do a master class with employees of McCann Belgrade come from?
Miša Radivojević: It’s an idea that arose from the meeting of friends from the old days – from the beginning of the eighties – Srđan Šaper and the common “adventure” of cooperation on a film, a “subversive” one back then – “The Promising Boy”. With the help and cooperation of my former students, friends, colleagues, I started an adventure with a small film school in Herceg Novi, on the coast. This idea has “difficult sailing”, but we are trying to keep it buoyant. I think it’s important that one tries to partially transfer one’s own valuable experience to his former pupils, students…
I have a feeling that the only treasure I own lies in large crates full of practice, which piled up nearly sixty years in conditions of work on low-budget films, or no-budget films. I need to get rid of this burden, to try to “drop” it on the youngsters who are still infatuated by film and visual mirages. A large number of educated and talented young people today have the ability and intelligence to learn from other people’s experiences.
Vladimir Ćosić: What is the concept of your master class? What do you think could be the biggest benefit for the people who attend it?
Miša Radivojević: First, I try to introduce myself in my true dimension, which is not easy: as a relic that comes from some past times, who in his own way interprets life and film.
Then there’s the insistence on the famous axiomatic facts when it comes to film: what are the indisputable facts that are the core and the main value of this “most ephemeral” of all the arts?
Then attempt of encouragement and breaking of prejudices that craft in film is too hard and too complicated.
Then advocacy of the stance that “pretentiousness”, both creative and financial, has ruined many more films and projects than poverty, simplicity and modesty in approach.
Then there’s the consideration of the need that the person who deals with film, and enters this “bloody” ring, above all tries to get rid of their own prejudices – that is, a kind of “self-decontamination”.
Another factor is the recalling of the films and their creators who represent everlasting values and signposts that indicate the route of our own road.
And finally there’s the “unpretentious” analysis on the topic of what is happening with contemporary film – the technological and aesthetic transformations. Stories of the basic elements on the road from “idea” to “realization”.
Vladimir Ćosić: How do you like the people from the agency in your lectures? Are they different from your students?
Miša Radivojević: What is typical for all my great students is this “cute” “facultative nature” – that they can do everything, and don’t have to do anything – this “probing” of their own future and destiny … This preparation and build-up of emotions and experiences, this hesitation and delay … even laziness typical of the “genius”…
Here, at McCann, things are somewhat different. There’s no fooling around. These are young people who have bitten hard and have taken on some serious responsibility and risk, working on specific tasks and realizations that tolerate no delays, bohemian nature and relaxation. This “gilded” cage with many existential benefits has its price. These are urban, educated, hard-working young people who are, probably, in a sense torn between commitment to the implementation of specific ideas, and dreams about realization of some “higher” and “hazy” ideas on the road of their personal ambitions in their own future…
I also feel torn and undefined in this regard…
I like the “relaxed” nature in my students and their sense of freedom and indecision, but I still admire these young men and women I met at McCann, even if only at a glance or a gesture, through reactions and face and body talk.
Occasionally I have the impression that I’m a guest on a small modern warship, anchored at Terazije, with a brilliant, trained crew that stands ready for the command “action” and “cut”.
People dream what they desire.
Perhaps you, Vlado, see these assessments of mine about people and things excessive and superficial, but no, I’m quite sure of my impressions, and in the frame I cover with my eyes, and my insight regardless of my hearing disability. I’m a real decadent filmmaker – I only need the “picture of things.”
Vladimir Ćosić: How much has creativity changed in general, and how different is the worldview of young creatives today in relation to the times when you were a student and starting to deal with film?
Miša Radivojević: The way of using creativity has changed. In my time – the time I was growing up, my maturing and my youth – creativity manifested itself in dreams. The generation of my parents “wasted/spent” their creativity in prisons, wars and revolutions, and then after the victory of the revolution, they spent it on discipline and training of “reactionaries”, “apostates”, the backward/bourgeois of the past, citizens and dissidents.
A small part of the creativity of my generation spilled over to literature, music, visual arts and film and TV.
The Yugoslav film amateurs invested and spent their creativity by means of complicated and rare devices and tape formats such as “eight”, “nine”, “super eight” and sometimes even “sixteen”. With great difficulty and great enthusiasm exceptional films were recorded, that are now generally lost.
Today, most young and old people carry in their pockets a perfect camera with ideal properties, and with the help of these ideal devices they play games, maybe take pictures of themselves, of puppies, cats, selected friends or a girlfriend, and a sunset here and there. No one thinks of making a film, because it never occurs to them that the most beautiful, greatest and deepest movies can be recorded mainly about ourselves, people around us, in your room, your home or yard, in a prison, a mental hospital or in your workplace – in all the places where we spend most of our lives.
We are convinced that the film is a fabulously expensive mechanism and that the only logical thing to do is to go to Hollywood and record your movie for a hundred million dollars. No one realizes that film is an organism – quite doable and easy to be done, that it can be made only with the help of sincere sensitivity, creativity and a little bittersweet hardships.
Of course, probably, a film like that, our own little film, made by a phone, about ourselves and our confined world, with all our problems and joys which we are generally ashamed of, will not be displayed in large theaters, before a large number of people in the stadiums. There will be no buying of expensive tickets and big profits. That movie of ours – we will record it for ourselves, and several of our friends and people dear to us.
It’s a song that everyone can sing for themselves and enjoy it. When we disappear one day – and we have to disappear – these small film records will speak about us, our life, our intimacy and our friends, more accurately and more sensitively than all the biographers and biographies in the world. This is the real future of film, and well-directed imagination of different generations.
Vladimir Ćosić: Do you follow advertising and what do you think about the advertising scene in Serbia today? Are there any examples of campaigns that attracted your attention?
Miša Radivojević: Not systematically. Since I’m deaf, I receive and register mostly image, and I think that’s enough for my personal judgment as part of the attempt to understand the world in which I find myself. I have the impression that my impressions of the advertising scene are more favorable in the absence of sound. There are, of course, examples which attract my attention and which can be compared with the best and most successful campaigns which can be seen outside our little world.
All that I experience ostensive, and I’m not able to speak about it in the language of a connoisseur, or to suggest anything. Of course, on 90% of these segments of the TV program you move your gaze to the floor or the chandelier. Sometimes you throw up, but since I have that same problem, or even worse, with conventional programs – like information, entertainment, lighter documentaries… galleries of characters and apparitions – commercials are in the top half of the table in terms of quality, without any doubt.
The things done by your agency, McCann Belgrade, with its reputation, are certainly an exception. But it’s not necessary that I talk about it. It is said by many important awards in the world where this kind of programing has a higher quality and meaning.
Vladimir Ćosić: Do you think that “ads” can also be “art”? Can fully commercial projects, whose main purpose is to sell products and promote clients, overcome their basic purpose and reach artistic heights? How big of an influence have had the talents from the art academies who switched to the advertising side?
Miša Radivojević: “Art” is much more comfortable in an ad, than an ad is in some “alleged art”. We admire creative and intelligent use of advertising for a reason, because there is no treachery and cuckoo eggs – advertising that has a clear intention can be transposed to the astonishing effect into a superb art space, experience, history…
This, of course, is not an everyday occurrence.
There are often wars or evil doings in order to actually “advertise” power, force or performance, in order to send messages…
More or less art in an ad or a campaign tells a lot about the purchaser. Unfortunately, in our country, I have the impression, we need to wage battles not for the quality of advertising, but for the quality of the clients.
I think the quality of talents and educated people from art academies or colleges and schools from the area of humanistic studies has carried out a capital impact and contributed to that top-quality part of this kind of programs, not only in our country.
We have the example of your agency – you, Vlado, are one example among many. Many of my former students have crossed to the advertising side. I’m proud of them, and I have learned a lot from some. It’s like on the other side of the river. We on this side think that you have it better. That you are on the right side of defense and the meaning of life and art in life. And you on the other side of the river, you are a bit jealous of us on this side – you have the impression that our refusal to accept responsibility has some higher purpose…
There is no difference and there is no truth. We are all on the banks of the same river. It’s our river, and we don’t know on which side, left or right, the water is more polluted or clearer? We will never be able to answer exactly the question: “Is it better to dwell in life and nurture the dream of art, or to live in hell and practice art?!”
Vladimir Ćosić: What would you tell young people who wish to deal with art (commercial or non-commercial) in our country today?
Miša Radivojević: If they want to deal with art in the commercial spectrum, but can’t find a place and a job at McCann or in one of the agencies that have a certain reputation here, then they need to sit on a train or on a ship (I don’t recommend planes) and such as they are – imaginative, wacky, educated, with decent English skills – find their place in Europe or in the world, and spend their life with dignity and perhaps only with a slight longing in their heart for insufficient artistic proving.
And to those young people who want to deal with non-commercial art in Serbia today – I advise them to go to church Ružica in Kalemegdan, and to light a candle for themselves, praying that the Lord don’t let them jump from the Kula Nebojša or from some bridge into the Danube or Sava.