Olmo Omerzu • Director
“I believe I can afford a more experimental approach”
by Martin Kudláč
- Cineuropa caught up with director Olmo Omerzu at Finále Plzeň, where the filmmaker was presenting his latest project in development, Jackdaws on the Road
Slovenian-born emerging filmmaker Olmo Omerzu, who now works in the Czech Republic, has revealed his latest project, the sophomore feature Jackdaws on the Road. Omerzu brought the project to the Czech Film Springboard (read the report), a new initiative that unspooled at Finále Plzeň to help new, mostly domestic, projects in the early phases of pre-production. Omerzu’s directorial debut was the medium-length coming-of-age tale A Night Too Young [+see also:
interview: Jiří Konečný
film profile], centred on the power dynamics between children and adults, and his first feature, Family Film [+see also:
interview: Olmo Omerzu
film profile], is currently on the festival circuit.
Cineuropa: At what stage is your upcoming project Jackdaws on the Road?
Olmo Omerzu: We have just finished the casting and are starting rehearsals with the actors. We spent a great deal of time looking for boys to step into the shoes of the lead characters. My intention was to search for the boys in small towns so that they would share the environment of their characters. I wanted to avoid “the casting kids” in favour of authenticity. We will shoot in the Czech Republic from August to September. And then the post-production should last until the end of the year. There are also a couple of flashbacks in winter, so we will have to do additional takes after the summer ends. And hopefully, at the beginning of next year, we will have the final cut ready.
What was the impetus behind the script?
It was written by Petr Pýcha, and I read it a year ago. What I found interesting was Petr’s sense of dialogues and authenticity. He is a teacher, and the main protagonist is a 12-year-old boy. Furthermore, I found the main situation interesting and simple, in a way. The police catch the boy in a stolen car and do not believe him when he says he drove all the way. And that is the moment when the boy starts telling the story, which he describes so vividly. And this raises the question of where the boundary is between truth and lies, and you can find something behind the fantastic stories that the protagonist tells, even something pathological. We, as viewers, slowly slot the pieces together to see the bigger picture and the story of the protagonist – and I found this unconventional topic interesting.
Last time we met, you said you would like to experiment a bit with genre. Is this going to happen?
Jackdaws on the Road will be a bit looser in terms of the form as well. I decided that I won’t be differentiating how particular stories are rendered, so I will be making everything realistically because I want to demonstrate that lies belong to realism in a sense. There are two planes that the film switches between: one is set in the police station, and the other is the telling of the story, and interestingly, they can correspond to each other stylistically. While making films, I always look forward to certain moments, and to reach those moments, you have to build up scenes that lead to them, which may not be that interesting. To a certain extent, we are narrating the story in the style of Rashomon, which enables us to have many more highlights. From a certain perspective, the screenplay is a regular script that we have been polishing together for the last year – mostly the directorial instructions – but at the same time, it is anchored in realism, and the story is based on the actual event of a kid driving a car, fleeing, and having a reason to run away. So I decided not to cheat reality, which we could naturally tweak here and there, but I want to have authentic boys who represent something. I want locations that are not beautiful, but rather correspond to specific parts of the film. I’ve started to believe more in the documentary style; however, Jackdaws on the Road won’t resemble a documentary in that sense, but I am more concerned with verity.
What did you mean when you said you wanted a “looser” film? Do you mean an audience-friendly movie?
Family Film has plenty of irony, but it is carefully hidden, whereas Jackdaws on the Road is based on dialogue and humour, so when we speak about an audience film, I think viewers can connect with the movie at these moments. But at the same time, I believe I can afford a more experimental approach, which won’t alienate the audience but will take a slightly anarchistic form. I had to be restrained with the concepts of my previous films, but in this project, I know I do not have to do that. Also, this is the reason why the casting took so long. I thought I had found the actors, but then I realised that they were lacking something. There really was no other option for finding the boy; for the lead characters, we would have to spend another year looking for just the right person.
What are you doing here at the Czech Film Springboard?
The people here are film-industry professionals, and quite a lot of them are festival programmers, so hopefully our project will appeal to somebody or start to take hold in the subconscious of programmers.
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