Miro Remo - In my films I tell people to think moreWritten by Eva Csölleová, Vítek Formánek
Miro Remo is very extraordinary film maker from Slovenian town Ladca where he was born in 1983.He studied VŠMU (Musical university) and for more than 10 years he is making documentaries. He writes scripts himself, stands behind camera and also directs. He picks up very interesting topics which bring controversy among people and make them discuss it. His student film Arsy-Versy made in 2009, won 40 prices at various international festivals and became the most successful Slovakian film in history. His total tally is so far 18 docufilms. On festival Letní filmová škola (Summer film school) in Uherské Hradiště, he showed his latest movie called Richard Müller-Nepoznaný. But also other films from his production were showed-Coolture a Comeback. We were very interested in meeting him and making this interview but his programme ended before we arrived to the venue. He did remarkable thing, postponed his departure, waited for our train to come, answered our questions and then took his family and headed to Bratislava. Amazing.
You come from town Ladca and passed leaving exams at secondary school with skin on your teeth. Was VŠMU the emergency solution of those days´ problems or on contrary it was only possibility how to get out of it?
I would think I found myself at that time since I felt that even a study can have a sense. I realized that life routine like study and need of getting a job can bring you something positive, which you start to enjoy. So from this point of view it was discoverable. I quite liked primary school, but somehow I didn´t know my direction at school, which was confirmed later on. After secondary school, I went to study mechatronics, but at that time I finally realized it´s not what I wanna do in my life. Maybe I followed my father´s foot steps since he also used to try to make interesting amateur films. I can´t say I was forced into something by my parents I was a kid who was allowed to do what he wanted.
From the word go did you want to make documentary films since you liked them more or you cut your teeth at them and pick up experience and then you will start making feature films?
Hm, I am not sure about that, really. Every film is obviously new experience. To make a feature film takes two or more years and you have to get lots of money, so at the moment, I am not so sure about it. I do plan to make feature film in the future but I don´t intend to drop making documentaries, since I believe that it can be very adventurous and in many way discovering.
You write scripts, stand behind camera and direct. Is it your style how you want to keep control over your work and be artistically independent or you don´t like to be told how to do things and it is also financial question so you save lots of money?
I don´t shoot all my films, it depends on the character of the movie. If we have to keep intimacy in dialog, the big crew could kill that, so then I stand behind camera. Sometimes the main character of our document asks me for more intimate space. It is cheaper that´s true but then I have to do everything. I believe that if you really try desperately, you can shoot a film for third of the original budget so my multifunctionality is also that cutting cost reason. I am not the one who would like to make everything myself, cos I don´t think it´s ideal way how to make film but true is I do enjoy it behind camera.
From very beginning your films create reactions among people. Do you deliberately pick up controversial topics and inject into wasp nest or you are straight man and call spade a spade which some conservative people can´t swallow?
Both, I would think. In my movies I try to be much more straight and honest than in real life. If I was so honest in real existence I could harm many people. In film, you jump from one topic to another one and forget some things, so that is why I am willing to risk that openness. But I don´t do it deliberately, but I would say that it´s my style which fulfills me and I enjoy it.
Your student´s film Arsy –Versy won around 40 prizes at various festivals. Why is it so interesting and different that it addressed so many film juries in so many countries?
That movie process apparently negative topic but has incredibly positive link. It monitors human weirdo while he researches bats. During this reversed vision of world he realizes that if we look at the world upside down, it would be much more bearable and nicer since human existence in current world IS already upside down. So from this point of view it is very universal and people around the world understand that, so that is why it addressed so many people.
Do you try to approach the topics different way and you film different way or you are different from the essence so you will be new Jean Luc Goddard?
Jesus, I am not sure. I guess it won´t be Goddard, God knows what it will be. I try to work as best as I can.I feel as if I am a builder and build my own house. So firstly I make basic and insulation, then I choose color of the plaster and tiles for I wanna feel comfortable inside that and I have to have feeling that I don´t waste my time and energy. Each author´s film cost me 2-3 years of my life and if I made 6-7 hiccups, twenty years of my life would be gone.
Your film Cooltůra was rejected in Slovakia for screening so you created your own platform and got it among people. Could this DIY way set up a new trend which would help to avoid censorship, bureaucracy and control?
That is one big problem which isn´t solved yet. You can show your film on academic soil and avoid aforementioned things but you can´t accept entry fee and generate profit. So this platform is possible only for very low budget films where you don´t have to pay salaries. Cooltůra was made by very small crew and somehow we could finance it from money we managed to obtain for that and we survived without charging entry fee. I think at this time there were much more important things than money and that is why this film found its way to people. But I must stress that this isn´t a long term way how to make films, since we live in this capitalist system and if we don´t get money for what we do we won´t stand it very long.
You were invited by Emir Kusturica at his own festival where you met Johnny Depp who plays in Hollywood, blockbuster crap movies. Meeting with who meant more to you?
Kusturica is for sure far more interesting man, even though currently he has somewhat militant attitude. He is pro- Russian and I don´t understand his moods. But it was interesting to observe how his festival works and how it accepts his film topics. So from this point of view it was very interesting. But I can´t say meeting him will be experience of my life. And Johnny Depp? Before I went to this festival I even didn´t know how he looks like, but I have heard he is big name so I took a picture with him, very nice PR for me. We were staying in very small village, protected from outside world since festival was very intimate. We used to meet in a pub but Depp was protected by many people since he is brand tool producing lots of dollars so he mustn´t get hurt.
Your film Comeback is about the hardest prison in Slovakia. How successful was it among viewers and also commercially?
I never made films with idea that they must be either box office hit or should be well accepted by viewers. I make film for people. Attendance figures were above average in Slovakia so I guess we did fine. I must admit that my films are the most visited films in Slovakia.
Do you want to tell stories in your film, show the truth or you try to change something in the system?
I try to make people think and be aware of certain things that engulf them, they take part in and if they want to change them, it´s up to them. I don´t tell people what they should do, only show them things the way I see them and let them react at it.
Is it difficult for you to obtain money for your project, or you have already established yourself that people come themselves and maybe investor comes and offers you money if you make film about this or that?
In the later years we managed to get money or our films and it is much better and easier than it used to be, say, five years ago. We have success on festival stages where they talk about our films. Sometimes some investor comes, but with such offer, that it is difficult to accept it. I am not talking about amount of money but about the topic I know not thing about or I wouldn´t have a clue how to deal with it, so I rather refuse and walk away. I wouldn´t enter project which would be against my moral principles and with which I wouldn´t agree. I think it is not artistically possible either but it could be interesting to follow film maker who would accept such offer and slowly convince and change the investor and it would go different direction.
To us you are kind of mixture of Oliver Stone and Woody Allen. If we are wrong would you be pleased or neither of them is your cuppa?
I think they are both cool guys and have really high working pace. I am nowhere near them. I like both, who wouldn´t? I like Woody´s irony in his comedies, that´s neat. I try similar kind of thing in some of my documents but he does it on top level while I do it only on Czecho-Slovakian-Visegrad level.
Richard Müller is enough controversial person himself. Do you know him from early days or you followed him for longer time and realized it would be interesting to make a document about him? Or on contrary, did he look for somebody who would film him and since you are solitary man, he grabbed you?
I know all his CD´s, they were my musical influence. I must admit, none of the musicians caught my interest more than him. So it was natural that we came back to it when we tried to find personality about whom we would shoot long full-featured document. My friend used to work in his crew and he told me the vibes are positive to do something inside the team. Film is well accepted by both viewers and critics. From thirty critics only one gave it around 50% ratings which is great success.