Vol 1, No 18
25 October 1999
Focus on Fiks Fokus
An interview with Andreja Maricic about the innovative Belgrade production company
Andrew J Horton
Of the two showings of Yugoslav short and experimental films at the 7th Raindance Film Festival, the first was almost entirely devoted to the works of one company, Fiks Fokus. Operating out of Belgrade, the six-year-old production company has some 22 experimental films, over 40 documentary shorts and a number of feature length productions under its belt. Present at the showing, which took place at the Global Cafe in Soho, was Andreja Maricic, the Art Director for Fiks Fokus, as well as one of its film-makers.
How did Fiks Fokus come to be formed?
Fiks Fokus was formed by a group of film workers; who had worked together beforehand as a team on a feature-length experimental film The Wonderful Dream of Dziga Vertov, which was filmed for Avala Film in 1990. The founders were Miroslav Bata Petrovic, Zlatko Dukic, Andrija Dimitrijevic, Igor Toholj and Marko Karadzic. Fiks Fokus began creating films by using their own utilities and was funded by the Ministry of Culture in Serbia. For a few short films, we co-operated with television stations as co-producers.
Has Fiks Focus always been interested in artistic and experimental films? At the London showing the Fiks Fokus films were mainly experimental films, even though you have produced a number of documentaries.
Experimental films were the first preoccupation for Fiks Fokus artists. But later the direction of programmes diversified into other forms. Now, Fiks Fokus dabbles with all forms equally - although not so much with animation. But it all depends on the director. All in all, the main concern is innovation, be it on the basis of the story, dramatization or form.
How does a production company specialising in experimental films survive in the current economic and political situation?
The production of commercial films, advertisements and music videos are essential sources of funding for Fiks Fokus. Unfortunately, due to the discouraging economic situation that has ruled over our country for the last few years now - there are fewer and fewer buyers for commercial films, and clips and that greatly influences the amount of artistic, experimental films released. Fiks Fokus mainly worked on commercial films and clips for large Yugoslav firms such as Bambi in the town of Pozarevac, Sartid in Smederevo, Putevi in Uzice, Ishrana in Smederevo and Frikom in Belgrade. All these films and clips were created only for the Yugoslavian market.
We did have an agreement with the French oil giant Total. Our clip for Total was our big chance to branch out into the marketing world. Unfortunately, the NATO bombings meant the order was dropped, even though an agreement had been reached that we would carry out the work, and we had even set a date to start shooting.
We're currently in the middle of working on three feature-length films: one documentary film, and two fiction films. Utvara, one of the feature films, is directed by myself and was completed using only digital-video techniques. The edited video footage should now be put on 35mm tape. All three films were shot before the bombings, but because of the well-known situation they await funding from certain sponsors in order to be completed.
So how do you survive on a day-to-day basis as individuals?
Our secret to suvival is humbleness in every-day life; tightening existential needs to a minimum, enthusiasm and self-sacrifice - in other words self-denial in the name of the film art. We never keep an eye on how long we've worked, or how much we get payed (or in some cases, how much we aren't paid) or even when it gets paid. It's not that we deprive ourselves of money, but money isn't a problem in creating a film when there is none. It can all be put down to the unity we have here at Fiks Fokus, we are all ready to help each other, at any time and secrets do not exist between us.
Is there any one film which has been particularly successful?
The Wonderful Dream of Dziga Vertov recieved one of the leading awards at the festival held at Salern in 1990. The film Steam Boat, directed by Slobodan Zujevic and Miroslav Bata Petrovic, won the Grand Prix at the Cortocinema festival held in Rome 1998. At the same festival, our film The Circle directed by Vladimir Borisavljevic won the award for the best photography. A selection of Fiks Fokus films were also shown at the Krakow Festival in 1999. We have participated at the Golden Knight festival held in Russia several times.
I noticed that there were two other main production companies whose works were shown at the festival - Kvadrat and B92. How is your work different from theirs? Do you ever work together, or are you rivals?
In Belgrade, every production company has their own programme and aesthetic profile. Fiks Fokus have co-worked with many other producers on a technical and co-productional basis. We don't see anyone as a rival, or competition - on the contrary, we see them as a positive form of motivation.
Andrew J Horton, 25 October 1999
For more information
Fiks Fokus can be contacted at:
Tel (381 11) 488-15-05
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