Say hello to Zdenek Ruzicka, November 2013′s Filmpunch Featured Member! We pick a new member from the community every month and get all up in their stuff in order to gain a little insight on who they are and what they are up to.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Ahoj! My name is Zdenek Ruzicka ( Go ahead and try to pronounce it! ) and I am a 23 year old filmmaker from Prague, Czech Republic. I am an English teacher and a big dreamer.
What got you started in filmmaking?
My own decision. And it was a tough one! When I was 18, I decided that I needed a goal in my life or I would drive myself nuts. I just couldn’t focus on anything, searching for the path to follow. I eventually sat down with a piece of paper and decided that I would choose and dedicate myself to a thing that would appear on that very paper. I wrote down all the things I love doing in my life. Music, films, books, writing, people, art… And I realized that filmmaking is a perfect combination of everything. For me, filmmaking is a form of art built upon countless other forms of art.
Making that decision was especially hard because of the fact that I have no background to support it. For the first time in my life, though, I felt like, “This is it!” I took all the money I had back then and bought a DSLR. The Internet was and still is my university and I have a lot of catching up to do, but I am sure I can do this.
Do you think it’s necessary to attend film school to have a successful film career?
I think everyone has asked him or herself this question and found different answers. In my opinion, it comes down to the individual person. For me, at the beginning it was a no-no. I felt like I needed to do a lot of self-study to explore the depths of filmmaking before venturing on. Right now, I think it would benefit me in various ways. Mainly just being alongside the people with the same drive, similar passion, and having the opportunity to work on other people’s projects sounds very tempting. So my answer is, “No.” To have a successful film career you need other things, but school can be a good start.
What do you find inspires you the most?
It is so random! If I would have to choose, I would say that music is the biggest inspiration to me simply because I listen to it absolutely everywhere and anytime. You know that feeling when the music perfectly fits with the things that are happening around you? It is like being inside of your own movie. (Thank you, Andy, for introducing me to Ólafur Arnalds’ music!)
I think that being under stress inspires me a lot, too. Creating your own worlds to escape the reality is just a fascinating human gift.
If you could be a part of any production/movie, past or present, what would it be and why?
Definitely the Wachowskis’ work. Their power of storytelling and vision is mind-blowing. The Matrix, V for Vendetta or Cloud Atlas are at the top of modern filmmaking for me. I’ve seen all the behind the scenes countless times. It’s very educational to see their relationship with the actors. There is a big mutual respect and a clear vision from the Wachowskis which they’re able to share with their crew.
I would also love to see Chan-wook Park at work because it must be a hell of a ride. Just how he comes up with stuff is beyond my imagination.
What has been your most memorable moment so far in your journey to becoming a filmmaker?
Finishing a script. I wrote a short this year called “Salvation 6″ and man, was it hard! I wrote it in English and it was a very challenging process, because as you know, English is my second language. That feeling when you write your last words – you went through it hundreds of times and know that this is it – that was just amazing. You want to start filming that very second and slowly realize that it is just a beginning. Nevertheless, absolutely an amazing feeling. I wonder if it always feels like that?
If there was one piece of advice you could give a new filmmaker, what would it be?
All the typical advice – go out and film, have fun and share it with the world – is golden. My personal advice would be to take small steps. Take it slowly! I remember being really excited with a clear vision in my head, but the outcome was just so disappointing and frustrating to watch. It gets better. Small goals are building stones for the ultimate goal you have in mind, so don’t get discouraged.
Also, share your work and ideas, and listen to people. Learn to accept the fact that you’re not perfect and others can help you improve your work.
What are some challenges filmmakers in the Czech Republic and Central Eastern Europe face versus filmmakers in the United States?
I am glad I can somewhat contribute to this topic. The biggest challenge is that there is no support. Filmmaking is a thing for a few enthusiasts, but there is no community. This is a big issue when it comes to producing your film. I think this is where school plays a huge role, because you can get your hands on gear and meet with like-minded people.
This might sound a bit silly, but it’s hard to spend money on gear. You want that mic? Sorry, nowhere to be found and if you’re lucky the price is often pretty ridiculous. International companies don’t usually ship to Czech Republic because it is a small market for them.
If you want to study film you have only one option. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing option, FAMU (Czech Film Academy) has been continuously rated by the Hollywood Reporter among the top film schools in the world, but it puts tremendous pressure on the entrance exams. I think you might be familiar with Milos Forman, FAMU graduate, who directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – 5 Oscars.
Not to be all negative, I think that growing as a filmmaker in this type of a “hostile” environment makes you stronger. It naturally selects only the most dedicated individuals and that is, after all, a good thing. I, personally, have it in mind to later move abroad where I would like to continue getting better at what I fell in love with.
Are you currently working on any projects?
I recently did an interview with a Czech student band called “Pilot” and it was a great experience. Now I would like to get my hands on producing a music video for them, so we’ll see!
I have also been trying to write for the last couple of weeks, because I would like to try my chances at FAMU. FAMU only accepts a few students every year (we’re talking 1-10 here. QQ), and the entrance exams are quite demanding, ranging from showcasing your own work to perfect knowledge of film history. That’s my project right now.
What would be a piece of advice that you wished you would have gotten when you first started your filmmaking journey?
To pack snacks. First time I shot with a few friends was full of hunger and cold. You can imagine the mood on the set. Really, pack some snacks! Pushes things to a whole other level. I bet that hot chocolate would work magic in cold weather.
And that I would be alone. This is your journey and you’ll meet people, but you are the one who makes decisions whether to turn left or right.
If you’re in mood and interested, please, read it and let me know if you liked it!.