Radu Muntean • Director
by Toma Peiu
24/04/2008 - In a career that so far spans a mainstream crime story The Fury (2002) and an auteur action movie The Paper Will Be Blue (2006) (nominated for a Golden Leopard at Locarno and winner of the Special Jury Prize in Namur), Radu Muntean is again switching styles and themes: Boogie [trailer, film focus], his third feature, is a story about the lives of 30-somethings.
Besides being one of Romania’s outstanding feature filmmakers, Muntean is a very well-known commercials director and his career includes some of the best Romanian ads ever made. The first “New Wave” filmmaker to release a third feature, Muntean is probably also the hardest working director of his generation.
Cineuropa: How important is being hard-working to having a successful career in film directing?
Radu Muntean: I can only speak for myself, I don’t know how this works for others. For a long time, advertising was the only way I could have done the job I was trained for. This helped me practise and become more self-confident. Nowadays, I want to direct as many films as I can and advertising has become more of an efficient and elegant way to make a living. For quite a few years now, I’ve had the privilege of deciding how to split my time between film and advertising, but I can’t give either one up completely. So, I must be hard-working
You already have a well-known writing formula: You wrote both The Paper Will Be Blue and Boogie with Alex Baciu and Razvan Radulescu. How does the team work? Do you, as a director, have a "veto" right?
Honestly, we’ve never had to think of "vetoing" so far. Of course we have had contradictions, but we managed to agree. We are doing quite a good job as a team. First, we work on the extended treatment then we split the script into three parts. Each one of us gets to write his piece, then we talk them over and then work on details until later in production, after the rehearsals.
At what moment during pre-production did you decide to shoot Boogie with a handheld camera?
There’s a prejudice that shooting handheld is a visual tool designed to help social films. Used wisely, this is just a way of shooting that gives the spectator a better taste of the reality onscreen and offers the director greater freedom. No more, no less.
I knew right from the start that I was going to shoot Boogie handheld, in one-take scenes, because I wanted tell the story in a documentary manner. The camera witnesses the action externally, and shows the spectator what seems to be more interesting, without making statements at any moment. In the type of cinema I love, the director doesn’t show off, neither through the shooting, nor through the editing. He is just the film’s discrete “driver”.
They say that it’s difficult working with children on set. How did you work with your son for his part in Boogie?
Vlad wasn’t supposed to star in Boogie, I didn’t want to mix family with my work as a director. There was a casting call and we chose another boy, very nice and easy-going, who then proved to be very hard to control in the rehearsals. So one week before shooting started I called home for reinforcements. I tested Vlad and he seemed perfect for the role.
It was quite hard for both him and me, but I am aware that I wouldn’t have gotten along better with any other kid. Not to say that many of the lines and events in the film are inspired by our mutual experience. Vlad was of great help in a very difficult moment and when he grows up and is able to understand it I will thank him for this one.
You are now the proud director of three features that are very different in style and theme. What kind of stories are you thinking of putting onscreen next?
Couples. I am thinking about relationships. I have already written, along with Alexandru Baciu, the synopsis of our next feature, which I plan to shoot next year.