Robin Lipo won the ReelshowInt Online Student Film Competition in August with his film Sonata of Silence. He talks to us about what inspired him to start making films and go to film school and lots more.
Hi Robin, congratulations on winning our August online student film competition. Tell me a little bit about your background. What got you into filmmaking, and who do you draw your inspiration from?
Thanks, the win in ReelshowInt really gladden me. I come from small village from the Czech Republic, where I grew up. I enjoyed writing since the year dot. Write and create stories – invent them. After High school I was travelling one year in the Western Europe and I was looking for my place. In that time, I started to write my first novel “Fantom party”, which I have never published.
Although I love writing and intensive work on my book wholly absorbed me, I still missed something. I missed the enlivening of my texts, work with people, the procession of realization and post-production. That’s the reason why I enrolled on two-year film school in Czech, and they accepted me although I didn’t know anything about movies. Inspiration comes by itself, from life. My scope is especially in reflecting of presence. How my generation see the world? The generations, which will rise? Once Ejzenštejn told that essence of artist is to express his period.
You told us a lot about the making of your film in your article a few weeks ago, after Sonata of Silence was selected as ReelshowInt editor’s choice. Where did you get the idea for your film?
I started to think about Sonata of Silence when I was first year in foreign in Poland at a one year trainee course at PWSFTViT. At the school there are students from all over the World. My original language is Czech, so Polish, English and any other languages were difficult to use in practical life on the beginning in foreign and I just felt quite lost like in Babylon Film-Tower . That’s why I have started to think about language in general.
Then I realized that sign language is universal for all over the world, so I was thinking about all those people, who cannot say anything, because nobody will listen to them. In the same time I was thinking that competitions are in any area of art. It´s really huge in these days, especially in a visual art as movie making is. Everyone wants to be a director and every one could be a director, but the question is not how to do it, but how to be innovative and original in the art ocean? So that is the beginning of the story of Paul, who wants to shout out something, but he is not able to, and in the end, when he finally shout out something, he is original, different from all those other singers and celebrities, (kterých jsou dnes televise plné). The question is, if it’s the thing which he wanted? But the answer is on spectator.
In that article you wrote about the song ‘Sonata of Silence’ and that you worked with Mirko Fernandez Sanchez on the composition. How important is music in your work as a filmmaker and what music has influenced you the most.
Movie is combination of visual and audio and both are same important for me. Music could help but on the other hand music could destroy every scene. I have always wanted to be a leader of some music group. So to tell the truth by film I am curing my complexes, that I can’t play any musical instrument or that I don’t have voice for singing . Sonata of Silence is a proof of that.
I love very varied music – from alternative rock to jazz to electronic, but probably the biggest influence for me comes from music of group Mars Volta, at which even after tenth listening I am able to find something new. I think the way of my narration is influenced by this. With Sonata of Silence I knew from the beginning that music on which would Paul sing, have to be extraordinary, hypnotic.
Such a music, which would listeners and spectators bring to a trance. I met Mirko at one interview, which I had filmed few months before Sonata of Silence, so when the song came to realization, my choice of Mirko was clear. With the final result I am very satisfied.
You are doing a course at The Leon Schiller National Film, Television and Theater School, Poland, graduating in 2012. Can you also tell us a bit about the course and the school and what benefits you think there are in going to film school.
At the beginning, I want to tell you that I am just starting II. Year of directing class as a Bachelor study. At PWSFTViT there is three year study Bachelor, and next two year Master, so I have few years of studying before me and actually I am just on the beginning.
Art Schools in general are like playgrounds for special kind of kids, who would like to play games for whole life School gives you tools, space, and head masters, and it´s up to everyone how to deal with it.
Today, if you really want, you can do a movie without any study, but when you are at school, it´s much easier for you to concentrate just on your way of movie making. You don´t need to look for crew, because you have all crew in one building.
I am doing what I feel I want to do, so I feel satisfied with the school. If it wouldn’t be that and I would feel the pressure of doing something that I wouldn’t like, but I would have to because of the school, in that case I would leave the school, because it would lost significance for me.
How do you rate the film industry in your country? Are there lots of opportunities for your generation of film-makers.
Czech Republic is a small country, so film industry is also small. Everyone knows each other. That was one of the reasons, why I went study film to Poland, because here the market is huge. Also, I didn’t know any one, so it is harder for you to start from scratch, but when you get some satisfaction, it’s much bigger what you get back than when you have small ambitions.
Also I have come to Poland to make Czech-Polish co-productions, which brings you bigger budget and bigger target, so I hope I will be working at least in those two fields.
For young film makers it´s in every country the same I guess, costs for shooting are really low now, so if you have really good story (means script) and really passion crew who you trust, you can make big things and move forward really fast. And for this you don´t need school and even film industry. Problem of these days for young filmmaker is not to shoot something, but just concentrate on one story and get into, deep inside, because everywhere is waiting for you a lot of temptations to be out of your story. This temptations and hard officialdom from the productions site are the biggest problems.
How are you finding things since winning the ReelShowInt Student Film Competition? Do sites like ours help to get your work seen worldwide ….I hope so..:-)
It´s quite early to tell something about that. We will see in foreseeable future But I am for sites like ReelShowInt, because it always brings you benefits from what you can profit.
This kind of online competitions are also a lot of about luck. You never know, who will watch your movie world wide or who will read about you something and it is a field where everything could happen. Maybe it will brings me some trans-continental co-productions for my next documentary movie, which I am already preparing for next summer.
It would be really great, if it’s more connected with audience. I don´t know, how many people watch my movie at the site, but I haven’t got any feedback from anyone. I was waiting for some reactions, but nothing. That could really help to make some platform, where the film makers and audience get in touch together. Then you could hear the whole truth if your movie works or not.
What’s your ambition and what are you working on now? What aspect of the industry do you aspire to be involved in and where?
In June 2011 I have just finished my last short documentary movie called “Navždy mladý” (Forever Young), which is about death in internet generation. What will stay here online, when we are not here anymore? The movie just start live his festivals life.
At the moment I am writing new short fiction movie, which I am going to shoot in autumn. Theme is continuation from Forever Young but in fiction with different story and aspects.
My ambitions are make a feature fiction movie, about what I am already thinking about, as an author movie. Without compromise (or at least as less as it could be). Movie should direct only one person, and he should control everything, because finally it’s him, who will be ashamed to sign his name into the movie or not. I didn´t see reason to make a movie, when it’s going far from your vision. I believe in resurrection of a Director time, when director is again the most important person in a film. Simply, do something, what I wouldn’t need to be ashamed later on.
Also, I would love to become 1st or 2nd director or become just a trainee one of the Master. But it would be really huge luck to spend 2 years by learning from someone. Then you again don´t need film school.
Who is your favourite filmmaker?..and why
There are many favorite filmmakers for me. I could name Alejandro Jodorowsky, Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick, Andrej Tarkovski, Federico Fellini and many, many others.
For me great and big directors are all those, who have something to say to the audience. And who said it without compromise. For me the most important in the movie are theme, story and then are the rest of elements. I have never looked at the movie as an entertainment. I still believe that movie could change the World so all directors, whose movies try to change something in society are close to my heart.
But in the way of the unbelievable journey, what I get, are each fiction movies from Alejandro Jodorovsky. When I saw first time El Topo, Holy Mountain or Holy Blood , I was so shocked, amazed. I felt like on a trip and it’s the same again and again each time, when I am watching those movies. I always see new ideas, things. And what is the best on those movies that he pushes you as a viewer to think! Hardly think about everything. That’s great. Audience should think about the movies and then talk about it. I am quite disappointed, that the discussions about movies are getting too flat in recent years.
Finally, what’s the last film that you saw and the best film that you have seen in the last twelve months?
Yesterday I saw “The Skin I Live In” from Pedro Almódovar in cinema in Poland. For last 12 months I saw 3 really great movies. It was: “Dogtooth” from Giorgos Lanthimos, “Enter the Void” from Gaspar Noé and “Tree of Life” from Terrence Malick.
Thanks Robin – we wish you all the best and hope to see some more of your work up on the site soon.