Neka ostane među nama, film Rajka Grlića ›› Službeni web sajt novog filma Rajka Grlića 'Neka ostane među nama'. Scenarij: Rajko Grlić i Ante Tomić. Pogledajte prije nego opet prevarite voljenu osobu! Neka ostane među nama, film Rajka Grlića ›› Službeni web sajt novog filma Rajka Grlića 'Neka ostane među nama'. Scenarij: Rajko Grlić i Ante Tomić. Pogledajte prije nego opet prevarite voljenu osobu!


by Anja Jovanovic


SUNDAY (the arrival day)

I was the first one to arrive at the airport. The trip was very long. I kept on checking if Kevin or Sven would show up. And after a while, they did. Welcome to the Balkans.
The airport is similar to the one in Montenegro; actually the Montenegrian airport used to look similar until they renovated it, trying to escape any connection with the past.
From the van, on our way to the apartment, I was watching the city. It was a gray, rainy day, but the city looked clean and neat. So, this is Zagreb.



We arrived a little bit later on the set, because we needed some rest after the trip. When we got there, it was raining heavily and the crew was waiting for the rain to stop. We said "hello" to Rajko when we thought it was a good moment. We were officially on the set! They were shooting an exterior - a one shot scene. The main character, Marko, joins a group of men for a drink outside of a very nice and fancy bar. These men, they are a group of real characters, a group of very successful and rather famous people from Zagreb - playing themselves, of course. I would have liked to have heard Rajko’s conversation with them, because they were really good. Very natural, for sure. As Rajko explained it to us in the scene they were doing exactly what they would usually do on Christmas Day, and if I remember correctly, outside this very bar: drinking champagne and feeling good.
The shot included a lot of extras too, so it was a very fun first shot to see. The funniest thing to me was the way I felt the town atmosphere as soon as I got there, and this is why: A dark looking, skinny and very "focused" passer by on the street stood by me and started asking me all these questions like: "Oh, and this is Rajko Grlic, right? I believe he hasn’t shot here for a long time? And this actor, he is from Belgrade- is this some kind of ex-Yugoslavian co-production? And these foreigners (looking towards Kevin and Sven) - why are they here, is this an international co-production as well? I was a very shy but decent answer provider, and I smiled the whole time because first of all I just love the magically creepy real life characters like he was, and second of all, right there was a gossip starter, a powerful sign that I’m inside the walls of the secret life of a city, right inside the world that Rajko and Ante Tomic (script co-writer) were trying to describe in their script.
So, after I introduced us to the catering guy, Ivan, which I believe all three of us found to be the best first connection you can make on the set (on an empty stomach!), Rajko introduced us to Nesa (a sound recordist). He was more than happy to tell us about what kind of equipment they use on the shoot and what is done with sound recording in general. We talked about sound equipment that we use in school, about what kind of microphones they’re using on the actors besides the boom mike (I found out that they were using wireless mikes most of the time and that surprised me).
My favorite part of sound recording is mixing and setting all the levels; you are sitting there, the sound world of this film is in your ears and you are driving it and directing it all by yourself. 
Amazingly enough, after struggling with very unstable weather and a completely insane alarm that was coming from some apartment near by, that interrupted the shoot so many times, they shot the shot. We moved inside the bar, where the next scene was about to be shot. That next scene was such a good presenter of the temper and behavior of "our" men (specifically soccer fans - more specifically - almost every man in my country is a soccer fan), that I had the best laugh ever. I was so happy that my classmates could witness that!
Anyway, by the end of the day Nesa also told us how 6 channels were enough to use, how they synch the slate on professional films, along with many other things he said about digital recording, different brand names, machines and anecdotes that I cannot write down today my dear, dear diary. I guess diaries are just like the remains after the great ancient civilizations, they give us the essence, but they can never really describe life of the time.



Early in the morning we met with the costume department. Blanka (costume designer) told me that my assignment for the day was to stay with Sandra (costume designer assistant) and be with the actress. Meanwhile, she and the guys would be taking care of all the extras. It is another Christmas exterior scene with a lot of extras. Ok, I say. Let’s see what this is all about.
We stay in the room full of costumes, there is so much there to see. I’m reading some of the brands just to help myself understand how and where they shopped for the film. You can see different kinds, from Zara brand, which is kind of trendy and nice, to Boss, which is always just playfully perfect.  In the script, Marko is a guy who wears Boss. He is a women chaser and he is a businessman; he is addicted to the little boost that an expensive suit always gives him.
Shortly after Sandra explained how things worked, Miki (main actor) arrived. I feel strange, always, around famous people whose work I love. I don’t feel nervous, of course, nor confused, I just feel so uncomfortable that I already "somehow" know them, so I just try to pay as little attention to them as possible. Somehow I feel like it would be rude if I looked like I had recognized them from somewhere at all! Maybe that is why I end up just being nice and introducing myself (which is more or less what everybody else does!) Great. Anyway what I want to say is I always feel like I should have said that I loved their work and talent. But I never say a thing.
During the day the weather was crazy.  Rain was stopping and starting again all the time, so besides checking her costume for continuity in between every shot I also had to be the actress’ umbrella-person. And I loved it! This actress is really young and very beautiful and she seemed so fragile and so gentle (and her being exposed which is what actors do- they are being exposed- made her look even more fragile) and I felt that she needed the most caring approach. I swear I felt like I was taking care of the most delicate flower that needed a lot of love. And if you looked around, all the girls from the department were treating her the same way: asking her if she was cold, if she needed tea, simply- taking care of her. I realized how extra fragile she must had been, being very young, being on film, playing a scene with a famous actor, staying in character, being in a costume.
Being so close to actress the whole time, I was able to observe how the DP (Trn) and his assistants work: the first AC (Nika) was measuring the focal distance and checking the f-stop, so I would (of course!) have to move the umbrella just so It doesn’t affect the light meter reading, and then quickly put it back. Man, I felt like I was part of the crew! Keeping the energy there, keeping those circles of energy that we all had to bring together. My little touch within the collective energy of the crew was there and it was glowing as much as it could.
All the time I was really curious how the guys were doing- since they had a lot of extras to dress and since they were dressing a lot of people that they couldn’t exchange one single word with. I can’t even imagine the experience but I’ m guessing their perception and expression flow is equivalent to mine in this moment- there are a lot of filters and guards on a way once you try writing a journal (diary sounds even more personal) in a non-native language.
The three of us would spend some time in between and during the shots and we would talk and watch what was happening in the shot. And then we would split, following our "bosses" for the day.
During those moments of pure observing, I enjoyed watching the extras. Extras are always a very peculiar sample of people of one region, or a town. There is something so amusing about them. The way they all felt very responsible for their roles, the way they obeyed all the directives from Rasa (first AD)… And their faces, oh my God, their faces…They were the faces of the people. And I think it was at some point during those observations when I thought, "Oh yes, this feels like home." Some things might be different, but it feels just like home.
The next scene was shot in Ivana Tkalcica Street - in Zagreb they call it Tkalca. It is beautiful, houses preserved just as they were centuries ago. That was our second and last location for the day. Everybody said that on this street there was a place with the best kebab in town. That is how Sven and I started tracing all the possible paths of cuisine through the history as we were comparing German and Balkan versions of Turkish food.
The rain kept on falling all day. Everybody was working very hard. What a great crew. At the end of the day, we went back to our costume "office". We helped Blanka prepare the costumes for the next day. She didn’t stop giving us assignments so she could teach us and tell us everything about the responsibilities of this department. She mentioned all the back up costumes in case anything unexpected happened and she showed us some tricks for the scenes including full or half nudity. Of course she showed us skin colored panties - always have them! That helped my little bathroom scene (1st year film) last year! Thanks to my great, great actress!
We found out that we had a free day the following day and with the jet leg and all day working exhaustion we decided to stay with them and have a couple of drinks. And that is where all the cultures find a mutual language. I remember saying to Kevin and Sven: "You see? Everybody is a little bit loud like me! Everybody here gesticulates a lot - just like me! You see - I’m not weird, ‘we’ are all like this! And everybody smokes! Didn’t I tell you?"



Wednesday was a free day - but instead of walking around Zagreb, I spent it in bed, feeling sick and mainly sleeping.
That night, Rajko and Ana took us out for a dinner. We were in a lovely art club restaurant where they had really authentic Croatian food. While we were having good wine and good food we talked to our professor and his wife about film and life. Sounds like a good scene to me. I ate pasticada, as Ana and Rajko told us - a very famous Dalmatian recipe. Marinated for a long time, this meat was soft as butter. It simply melts in your mouth.



Today I took a lot of photos. I loved the location that we were at. Old buildings painted in yellow, narrow streets with old-fashioned street lights. The building that we were shooting in, they say it used to be the Chilean Embassy and it was just beautiful. It looked abandoned, the backyard was overgrown, but that is why I liked it even more. It looked like a perfect place for summer days of childhood.
Earlier in the day we were assigned to the lighting department. The street lights were still on when we arrived, it was a very early call time. The scenes for the day were supposed to be in Luka’s painting studio. So, we were next to the big truck full of equipment, and I asked Petar (gaffer), "How do ‘we’ call the sand bags?" He says, "Sand bags". Pretty funny.
So, for the scene, they put two HMIs on the scaffolding outside and two chimeras inside. I am very happy because Steve talked about chimeras and I asked Petar how "we" called chimeras. He said we called them himera (soft h). Oh. Ok.
All day I was walking around, as usual, trying to see what the various departments contribute to the set… I love to observe the camera department. That is such a quiet and efficient unit. What really impresses me is that DPs are usually the most elegant looking people on the set. There is this very clean approach and perfectionism in the work of almost every DP. Film set is like  a state.
The scene was very beautiful. A lot of space with a lot of "day light" (coming from HMIs) but having this dark, golden and warm tone at the same time. It was a long and important dialogue scene.
Later in the day, we were invited by Rajko to come and join him in the room where he was. Nada (script supervisor), Agica (video assist) and Nesa (sound) were there with Rajko. I pay attention to Nada’s job. I notice that she is making lines with a ruler - the same thing we were doing with Jeanette in directing class. She is marking what part of the scene every shot is covering. She pays attention to every single detail.
And Rajko…Well, what Rajko wants, happens. Director is the will. Director is the need. In the case of European independent film, at least, the director has this pulsating desire to shoot the film. He makes it happen. Rajko has this calm and natural energy that is basically the energy of the set. But the strength of the will is there all the time.



This morning our teacher was Nada. Everybody on the set respects her enormously. During the first day we heard that she worked on "Schindler’s list" and "Gladiator". She saw us and approached us with such enthusiasm that it is hard to describe. It’s official: every person on the set is more than happy to tell us everything that can be told about their job.
I always wondered how one person keeps track of continuity, what is it that helps her do this job in the best way? How can she keep everything in line? She showed us all the sheets that she had to fill out every day. She told us about the responsibilities of her department, about the hierarchy, about the differences between small Balkan and Hollywood productions. She showed us the paperwork, the forms that she made herself, the notes that only she can understand that help her not to forget anything. She told us about the reports she had to make and send to the production office every day. She is a very important department. A one person department.  
The second part of the day we spent in the production office. Once again, they were ready to show us as much as possible. I go through a huge "book" that is actually the application to the "Euroimage" award. It is impressive how much information has to be put together. Zdenka (production coordinator) shows us the daily reports they have to make and all other kinds of paper work related to the pre-production work. We helped them with some daily call sheet translations. I felt good that we were able to help them. Almost the whole time I had this guilty feeling of how privileged we were.  
During work, Tanja (production secretary) plays one very special song to me; she shows me a very interesting personal video made by one of her friends that she used to work with at the film festival in Motovun. The video is made out of his, hers and of their other friends’ pictures from Motovun. The song is "Na Nesto Me Sjeca Taj Grad" (There is something about that town or That town reminds me of something?) by Darko Rundek, Rade Serbedzija and Arsen Dedic. Na nesto i mene sjeca taj grad. She is surprised how I know about the song, and I am deeply moved because I haven’t heard it in a while. I think, "Why did this country fall apart in the first place? Oh, yes. Of course."
Later we got back on the set where we were on the night shoot. They were shooting a night exterior in a small alley. All three of us turned out to be extras for the scene! Oh, that was so much fun. I think we were very proud that we eventually ended up being in the movie. What a cool thing. Will anybody ever notice us?



Our last day. I take more photos of Zagreb. As I walk around I think about my music hero Darko and how he once walked the streets of this town. The avant garde of the eighties was crushing everything in front of it. Cinema was bold and of a young spirit; music was bursting out of the boundaries; the art expression was wise and honest. Yugoslavia was a cool place. Still is, I guess. Or I guess not.
We are shooting a court scene, a witty deep emotional scene, the last scene we are going to see. Bogdan Diklic is in it, another great actor of Yugoslavian cinema. I try to observe him when he is not looking. From where I stand I can’t see the scene. But I listen to the actors, to all the little changes in their voices and I soak up each time one of the actors delivers the line differently enough to alternate the hidden emotion that Rajko is chasing. Then Rajko asks for more, different, closer, warmer. He tweaks small things in a way he only knows just as he is the only one who knows what color the sea will be when the ship (the shot) finally reaches the dock.  
It was time to leave. I felt very excited. I tried to say goodbye to everyone.
As a farewell gathering, Rajko invited us to his studio-apartment for a glass of wine. As we were drinking a fantastic wine, Rajko was telling us about this film, Cannes, student days, first films, great anecdotes including other famous directors… Besides other things, he told us how he always tried to make films look as his characters would have liked to be seen.  What an interesting way to assign function to the photography.



It is time to leave. It is still dark outside as I pull my suitcases toward the van. The driver and I talk about childhood, global politics, war years, America… I think about going back to the US and switching to another frequency one more time.