Maja Milos makes her big screen directorial debut with her movie Clip - a movie that has been whipping up a storm on the festival circuit.
Clip is playing at the BFI London Film Festival and that is where we caught up with her to chat about it.
- Clip is your new movie so where did the idea for the film come from?
I started thinking about making Clip when I saw the clips of really young people all over the internet - they were filming themselves taking drugs, getting dunk, being at wild parties, bullying each other and sex tapes.
So there is a diversity of clips but what I felt was there was something really big going on with today’s younger generation.
I just wanted to see what is going on with the relationships in that kind of scenario and in an environment where emotions are expressed very cruelly and where they are communicating very rough - not thinking about how other people are feeling.
- So can you tell me a little bit about the research process that you went through before you started shooting the movie and how important this process was?
Because I wanted to make a very authentic film and very realistic - there is a feeling that it is almost a documentary - it was very important to research.
My generation is totally different to their generation and the problems of growing up when I was young and today have not much in common.
- Did you have quite a conservative upbringing?
No, not conservative but the problems were totally different and the communication was different. Communication has changed a lot as today’s generation is really speaking through Facebook profile pictures and they are constantly taking picture of themselves and therefore constantly presenting themselves in the process.
So I think that this self promotion and self presentation is much stronger than when I was growing up. Intimacy has also changed because how we perceive intimacy and how the younger generation perceives it is changing very rapidly.
And today’s intimacy is being much more public. All of these issues are completely different to when I was growing up - not in the sense of how I as raised but my generation. So it was very important that I really understood the youth of today.
First I looked at all those clips and what I could find on the internet but then I went on to speak to thousands of teenagers because we were doing castings for two years - I spoke to everyone who came to casting for over an hour and asked them about their experiences, their surroundings and all of the issues that Clip is dealing with.
Those were very open and honest conversations and I felt that I really got to know them. It was a really long process of making Clip from the idea to the first draft of the script, which I wrote, it took two years. From the idea to when we had the world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival earlier this year six years had passed - it was a long process.
Also the young actors helped me a lot because they were great to work with. Not only were they very talented, very smart and from great families - which was completely different to the characters that they were playing - but they really know what is going on because the film is really dealing with their generation.
- The central role is played by a fourteen year old girl and you so often see older actresses cast plying young roles so how important was it for you to have someone who was the right age?
At first I thought of having eighteen year olds because I didn’t think that there was such a huge difference in age, if you are playing someone who is two years younger then it is not a big deal.
But the moment that I saw this younger generation and Isidora Simijonovic was only fourteen and a half when we started shooting; she was the youngest of the acting crew. But when I saw that generation I really felt that that was what the film is and that was what is was speaking about.
Of course I didn’t want to have a cast like in American mainstream films where you have twenty six year olds playing teenagers and that was something that was very important to me. If I wanted to make a film that is very realistic the main thing is you have to feel that it is true and so I had to work with really young actors and they had to be great.
And that is why we did casting for two years because I knew that I mustn’t make a compromise with the actors. Whether you feel that a movie is real or not is mainly based on the actors.
I totally fell in love with each and every one of them when I saw them in casting because they are so unique and I just wanted to watch them.
- Well Isidora Simijonovic is just so fantastic in the film.
I just fell in love with her because she looked so interesting. She is so precise in how she is working and she is so deep as a person and so she can understand a lot of different emotions. We had a relationship that was full of love and trust and we really did become great friends.
We had rules; there is no judging, nobody is ashamed and nothing leaves the room and we really could speak about everything and do everything - and that was really important because everyone felt free and very secure.
- The central character has a very interesting arc but I found it very hard to watch her in those sex scenes because they were quite shocking and so I was wondering how challenging those scenes were?
We had to think about love and teenage love in this movie. We have all done stupid things and we would all do anything for someone that we are in love with - and that is something that everyone can relate to.
Now imagine how it is in this environment that is very cruel where they are struggling with their emotions. When you are struggling with your emotions and trying to create that feeling of distance the easiest thing to do is turn to sex.
They are pretending that it is only sex because that cannot harm them, emotions can harm them and their feeling and their insecurities can harm them; they are all insecure.
We are talking about teenagers and rationalising their emotions - they don’t know what they are feeling and the other person also doesn’t know what they are feeling - it is a very complicated period.
When they start communicating and when they are expressing their emotions and when reality is going into that sex that they are imagining everything become different.
It wasn’t complicated in the fact that we went through the scenes and we had body doubles and prosthetics and we had special post production processes - so everything was very well planned. I spoke also to the parents and talked about all of the shots, we discussed everything.
They knew everything because it was very important that we had trust in each and everybody knew everything. The good thing was both the younger actors and their parents knew what the film was all about.
Filming the sex scenes was the most fun thing in the film because we really got to know each other and we weren’t ashamed of each other.
- It’s a very daring film so how are people reacting to it?
The great thing is people are really reacting to the film and that was my main goal. It is not a feel good movie so you won’t leave thinking ‘oh that was a nice movie’ and to the most important thing was that the audience thinks about it - it doesn’t matter if they adore or that the film but just that it impacts and that they think about it.
For me that was the main thing. I wanted to make universal story and while I have made a very local film (it is set in Serbia) but the issues that I am dealing with in Clip are not something that is only happening in Serbia. But this story could happen in any suburb all over the world. So I am very happy.
BFI Film Festival runs 10 - 21 October
FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw
Tagged in BFI London Film Festival