by Zoran Lisinac
Tectonic shifts have happened in the way the media is made, distributed and consumed.
The notion that the size of the screen has no intrinsic value when compared with the size of the eyeballs has grown roots especially since eyeballs, as biology tells us, grow only during the first few years in the life of an individual. The number of eyeballs, however, is rapidly growing, but then so does the number of films, and yet a vast majority of films are only ever seen by a very few eyeballs. Distinguishing one’s work in today’s age has become the real creative problem for an artist, in my opinion.
Planning for one’s indie film to land in the hands of a money-driven studio is as plausible as planning on driving back home from Vegas in one of those cars surrounded by slot machines. In the age of superabundance minimizing the risk of not finding enough eyeballs becomes the gatekeepers’ mantra as it directly translates into minimizing the risk of loosing their jobs.
There are no gatekeepers on Youtube… and it is in this environment, I believe, that some of the most exciting work has been done in the last decade by artists who, since I do tend to put everything in Historical perspective, most resemble of early 20th century Expressionists – doing crazy things that are hard to fit in the established molds and Just the way Expressionists used to bang out a painting a day, Youtubers are achieving the same assembly line pace. Years away from the industry that is racing to catch up they have been carving the digital stone for our descendants to interpret.
When I started casting for my debut film Along the Roadside one of the people I had in mind for one of the supporting parts was Gloria Suri Nava (Glowpinkstah on Youtube) whose videos I was very fond of… I “hit her up” on Twitter and she accepted to read the script and latter do it! As fate would have it, more Youtubers were to follow: Iman Crosson (Alphacat – Obama Impersonator) landed the lead part (after a video audition which he edited and turned into something of a short film) over a known Hollywood actor with whose manager we were going back and forth with- and soon enough we had seven of these “new breed of actors/entrepreneurs” in our film – which put us in a precious position distinguishing our film and opening many doors to an exciting marketing approach.
Now, some people would look at Youtube as “the red-headed step sister of Hollywood” but I have found nothing but the most talented and professional actors I had a chance to work with; actors who’d kept their own shine in the scenes with Hollywood stars (Tarantino’s Michael Madsen), Faust Nominees (Germany’s Angelina Haentch) and Palm D’or winning actors (Underground’s Lazar Ristovski).
At the end it all comes down to one’s own perspective. Are we the ashes of dead stars or a nuclear waste of the fuel that made then shine? Which brings me to another subject – the perspective!
I grew up in a war-torn country (Yugoslavia’s Serbia) and have seen what the gatekeepers and border drawers can do to a human spirit. Shooting my first short film was marked by shots fired not that far from the set when the first democratically elected Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, was assassinated in broad day.
So when I moved to US (about 8 years ago) I got a job behind the front desk of a Santa Monica hotel and vowed to write scripts for films that will celebrate the difference between people and forge relationships between them on a cultural level whilst discovering their humanity.
An approach which will spill over into “cross media” casting in what I (arrogantly) named the “Open Vein Cinema” - telling the stories that flow like the blood out of open veins carrying the content of that blood without censors, sweeteners or gatekeepers. The first in the line of those stories is Along the Roadside (produced by my big 6’9” brother Vladimir) which invites you to see the world through the eyes of its colorblind protagonist as it flows by the Bay on November 23rd at the Roxie, 6:45pm.
Zoran Lisinac’s (1983, Serbia) creative spirit was in full swing even when he was just a child. At the age of 9, Zoran’s comic books were published weekly in the local magazine and at 19 Zoran became a student of filmmaking full time when he was one of 7 students to be accepted at the prestigious film school in Belgrade called Danube Film Academy. After finishing film school, Zoran then made the move to Los Angeles to further pursue his dream of filmmaking. Since 2005, Zoran started writing behind the front desk of a Holiday Inn hotel in Santa Monica and since then has written six feature length screenplays with full support of his managers. In mid-2007, Zoran formed Metakwon Filmworks with his brother, and immediately started writing Along the Roadside, an original story for his award winning directorial debut in 2012. Zoran has said goodbye to hotel but has kept the fascination with the cultural diversity and integration to which the Santa Monica’s tourist hot spot exposed him and which will find a way in all of his later works.