476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries is an epic masterpiece
"WHAT A MAN CAN DO TO ANOTHER MAN, NO BEAST WILL EVER DO"
-Ivan Pavletic AKA General Flavius Aėtius
For 1,000 years the Roman Empire was a political and cultural powerhouse, and it's legacy is felt even today. It was not meant to last, and Rome eventually began to decline. Enemies inside and outside of the Roman Empire began to circle like sharks, ending the once great empire and heralding the start of the Dark Ages. The film 476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries, takes viewers into the heart of Rome’s decline and fall. It is a treat for fans of the Roman Empire and for those looking for an alternative to popular movies and now it is available in time for the holidays on Amazon.com!
We recently sat down to talk with Ivan Pavletic, the film's director to talk about him, the film and what other projects he has on the horizon among other things. We would like to thank Ivan for taking the time to speak with us and for providing an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at 476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries!
After General Flavius Aėtius frees the Roman Empire from the clutches of Attila the Hun, Rome is once again secure. However, this assurance is short-lived, as the growing power of General Flavius becomes a threat to the Senate and the Emperor of Rome, hence Flavius becomes a victim of assassination by the political hierarchy.
Q & A with Director Ivan Pavletic
1. Tell us a little about yourself, and your background.
Well, my name is Ivan Pavletic, I'm a painter and a filmmaker, and my production company is Artisk, Inc. I am 41 years old, originally from Croatia, I have lived in Colorado, USA, on, and off since 1996, after the Independence War in Croatia ended, and finally situated my permanent residency in Denver.
I have been in visual arts pretty much my entire life. Attended the school of applied fine arts in Zagreb, Croatia, as well as other schools for fine arts and history. A decade later in the U.S. I went to Colorado Film School, and Regis University, where I studied writing and directing.
2. What do you believe is the most important element that you try to bring across through your work?
I always try to do something new, something that hasn't been done the same as before. I believe that any progress is through something being new and original, otherwise, if we follow the same identical formula over and over again, we enter a form of stagnantion, where artform sits in a hibernation mode, from which no progress can come out of.
Our lives are relatively short, and it is that which we leave through our creativity and creation, that lasts as an echo after we leave this earth.
Other then just expressing your self through media such as film, I believe it is also very crucial to leave a message that truly matters, and can actually make a difference in some way or the other. I remember that in the midst of the darkness of the Croatian Independence War (1991-95) in which I found my self as a confused and freaked out 17 year old kid, while ducking bullets and shrapnel, and building bomb shelters in my hometown of Karlovac, my deep passion for bringing what I considered important stories onto film, started to be truly born.
"My first serious job might have been as a stuntman."
3. What was your first job as a filmmaker, and when did you discover you wanted to be a filmmaker?
In the previous life, or better yet two lives ago, hahaha. My first job, well, this could be relative, as I mentioned earlier, my first experiences on professional film sets were already as a 10 year old kid. I have been in the field of film, ever since I was a little kid, when I first found my self as a child extra, on the set of Jackie Chan's "Armour of God". Which was being shot between my hometown area of Karlovac, and Zagreb, Croatia. Seeing (then) the young Jackie Chan repeating the identical move, over and over again for a shot, woke something up in me, that made me want to get into this business.
Then there were other big Hollywood productions being filmed around my hometown, such as the sequel to "Dirty Dozen" with Telly Svalas, whom I remember calling everybody on the set "Baby". In the next couple of years, I eventually got my hands on a video camera, and ever since then I would be filming stories, writing, directing, and acting as well.
Right before the hostilities, and the War in Croatia started, there were quite a few big productions being shot in the former Yugoslavia, and interestingly enough, primarily around the four rivers of my hometown of Karlovac area. There was a US Network TV series "War and Remembrance", with the legends such as Robert Mitchum, where my hometown of Karlovac played both WWII Warsaw, and Berlin. It was the first time as a 14 year old dreamer, where other then being only an extra, I also had a chance of working and actually learning, by helping out as a grip behind the camera, and actually seeing the professionals working on the big 35mm Arriflex cameras.
Seeing the whole huge Arri HMI lights being used, and for the first time being part of the whole process, was beyond anything I could have imagined before. Also note, that this was still the former Yugoslavia in the late 1980's, and not Los Angeles, hence the Unions didn't quite matter there.
Paralelly, at the same time, there was another Yugoslavian-American co-production being shot a few kilometers away, on the river Korana, where I used to swim all the time. It was Rajko Grlic's "That Summer of White Roses / Djavolji rat", where I remember another legend Rod Steiger being pissed all the time, saying how he was missing his wife, and wanting to to go home.
All those experiences, and seeing the masters at work, able to repeat the psycho-physical motion over and over again, definitively built my passion for this work. I started shooting short films as early as a 11 year old kid, as soon as I could get my hands on the early VHS cameras. The whole nine yards, writing the story, directing it, and gathering the actual big crew of other kids, to actually shoot it and put it together. Also, about 1994-95, by the end of the war in Croatia, I created a short psychedelic experimental film, that could be considered sort of a prequel to 476 A.D. by the name of "Age of Pisces" where as a music video/documentary I used all my dark experiences and frustrations from the war, by trying to represent the last 2000 years in one story. Which I named my sequel "476 A.D. Chapter Two: The Dawning of the Age of Pisces". However, in the more "serious" adult life of filmmaking, perhaps, my first serious job might have been as a stuntman.
Even with a pause of some 5 years during the war, through those years, on and off, I've been acting in all kinds of productions, videos, commercials, TV series, and anything I could get my hands on. As well as working as a stuntman on Hollywood productions, such as Titus (1999), where I remember seeing Anthony Hopkins sitting every day at the fisherman's bar behind the Arena in Pula, Croatia, and reading his daily newspaper, while tourists around him weren't aware if it was really him, or just someone who looked like him.
There were also other big productions such as Le Femme Musketeer (2004 with Michael York), and other Croatian TV series, such as the first Croatian telenovela "Villa Maria". and many other German, and other European various TV film productions.
Ever since I can remember, I have been recording my visual experience, either on paper, canvas, or film. Visual expression has been a great passion in my life, and through film I can bring a different reality to people, therefore not only bring my imagination to them, but if possible, try to help them open theirs. I believe that one's expression of life is the most important task in an artist's life. I remember thinking to my self, that despite working on the big sets and getting to meet big acting legends, I really loved anything that is of one's personal substantial artistic creativity. Anything that can leave some kind of a mark on the future, coming from one's own heart and mind, is what really matters. That to me was, and still is, perhaps the most important element in what ever you do. So because I've been in the field of arts, pretty much my entire life, as I've been drawing and painting ever since I could walk and hold a pencil, I felt I had to go back to school to further my education in the field of writing and directing.
On the set of 476 A.D.
4. What aspect of film making do you like the best?
Aspect of film making that I like the best, I would have to say is directing. Eventhough acting is a great passion of mine, as sometimes I feel that I know exactly how to depict a certain emotion on the screen, it still comes down to that visionary view of the scene. I just have this urge to envision the entire film sequence in my head, to the slightest detail, including the actual music, that gives the necessary atmosphere and emotion, and create the entire story all together. Many in the film industry do not particularly like this approach, as the whole "Auteur" element of a filmmaker is looked upon as something problematic in the overall creation in the motion picture, hence many times it is shunned upon. Film is a mutual effort by many people and talents involved, therefore, it is not particularly liked when the creator/director's personal influence has the overall artistic control. This is something that might be one of my shortages, as I do like to do most of the elements in the filmmaking process, which is not always the best thing.
I have learned through time, to simply not interfere with my cinematographers, as every cinematographer on the set likes his vision also to be respected as such. So, as I love to sketch and draw my own Storyboards, through my drawing I can more clearly relate the actual visual picture to my cinematographer, and through the drawing, show how that vision should look on the big screen.
Film is a very complicated artform I think, as the creator is subject to a very subjective judgement by the audience, yet at the same time, the director is the one that must carry the burden of the final product on his or her shoulders.
As the saying goes, "A thousand eyes, a thousand opinions", and even though every one of those opinions is important, the creator behind the vision, must stay true to him self, as it is really that creator's vision that at the end must create something new and original.
Ivan on set early in the morning discussing the filming of the next scene.
"I do believe that every film I direct has it's own personal connection"
5. What is your favorite memory of work?
My favorite memory of work, I would have to say, is probably this low budget indi monumental undertaking "insanity" of creating the Roman Epic story of 476 A.D. When I take in consideration, not only months of working on these movies, but years of my life that had gone into this mad experiment, it's really hard to compare any other experience in my life. At least, not from a filmmaking stand point. Which of course doesn't mean that in the future I might not be confronted with even bigger obstacles of much higher budgets. However, there is just something specific about this whole low budget Roman story, that I think will always sort of stand out in my life as that one of a kind thing, to which there is just nothing quite like it.
Just the obstacles that we as a production unit were able to overcome in next to impossible circumstances and conditions, by shooting this insanity of a film experiment about the Fall of Rome. Then the couple of years of working with my post effects assistant Bradley Burrows, on the pain staking post-production of hundreds of hours of all kinds of footage, and hundreds of various green screen shots, multiplications of characters, rotoscoping, and etc. just makes me wonder, what the hell was I thinking, hahaha. Sometimes you can see who your real friends are, by how much they are capable of withstanding your overly detail oriented perfectionist nature. If that is the case, then my post effects assistant Bradley Burrows was truly there for me through all the possible obstacles.
Many filmmakers have stated before that the Roman Empire genre is cursed, to the point that it is nearly impossible to depict it in any real objective way. Hence, I was confronted with one major problem, how to make it work. If masters with budgets of over a hundreds of millions of dollars had failed before, how can a small fish like my self create something so grandiose, yet with such a small budget? How do you do this, yet not stand out as some low budget "film schoolish" look-a-like wannabe? How does one do this, yet that it stays mystique, new, different, and even bizarre in some new film form? How do you make it work, yet that it doesn't come across as pretentious or too artsy?
This was, and still is my biggest obstacle in filmmaking. How to create something new, that hasn't quite been used before?
Pretty much, since the golden days of Hollywood, with the classics such as, Gone with the Wind (1939), very little has actually changed in the actual basic editing formula. The film process has changed, digitalization of film has changed, the look, digital effects, CGI, that is all different, however, the basic formula of editing which they still teach in film schools, that is still pretty much mostly all the same, even some 80 years later. Of course, with some exceptions of Quentin Tarantino, and many Italian filmmakers of the 1950's-70's. However, the great majority of movies today, even though they might be very well done with huge budgets, they still look, sound, and feel the same.
I always say, better a new original risk, that is always at risk to not be accepted, then the old security. Is it in filmmaking, painting, music, or any art form, a new style to me is far more interesting, then a good old secure method. Even if a new style might not function at first, it still is a spark for a whole new dynamic to start, and that to me is something worth a while.
At the end of the day, as I consider my self still a beginner in the field of directing, compared to many others, it is really hard to say, what movie that I directed is my favorite. Perhaps, one day when I might have 20 directed feature films under my belt, I might have more to say.
I do believe that every film I direct has it's own personal connection, such as the feature film "SANE in 1974", about the disturbed Vietnam veterans coming back home to the problems of the mid 1970's America. Not to mention so many other movies I was involved through some form of production of either as a director, assistant director, or producer.
However, one of my favorite stories/films that I wrote and directed, as well as acted in, was a very modest little short film called "Tough Luck". A short story that I wrote many years ago, and just wanted to put on film over a weekend shoot with a few of my friends. That little no budget short film, that we shot some 7 years ago, was the closest to my real life and nature, as it had something of my personal life involved in it. It was a little film about a man's trials and tribulations with gambling addiction, as well as addictions in general, as life's cold realities one faces in the real moment's of truth, dealing with elements of sickness, marriage, and fatherhood. Even though this film was cinematographically made very simple and modest, compared to some other more higher budget and complex productions, I believe there is something in the simplicity of the real truth in life, that when spoken directly from the gut, makes a stronger impact, then through a higher budget grandiosity. Perhaps, the most honest depiction of real life, that through my life's experience, came out in this little short story, just sort of made it my personal little baby, that perhaps one day I would love to remake with a big budget.
6. What Genre do you specialize in?
Genre that I might be specializing in, I'd have to say that as a history of arts major, and a history buff all together, it would probably have to be history, especially late Antiquity, and the pre-Medieval period. However, as the most crucial element for me is to speak to the people, it would be, dealing with passionate, and powerful emotional sequences, that in my opinion go beyond the expensive Computer Generated Imagery.
Ivan Pavletic (right) and Spencer Kane (left) who plays Libius Severus in 476 A.D, at the Intendence Film Festival
7. Have you entered your films in any film festivals?
I did enter and win at some festivals such as Intendence Film Festival, Blissfest Film Festival, Art Prize in Michigan, and etc. Both for my feature films "476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries, and SANE in 1974, as well as some of my short films like "The Cosmopolitan", however, I have to admit that I haven't really engaged enough in the whole festival protocol, as I probably should.
I have been really busy in the last couple of years, with the pre-production, production, and post-production of "476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries", "SANE in 1974", as well as now with the post-production of the sequel "476 A.D. Chapter Two: The Dawning of the Age of Pisces", and not to mention my future "Tesla: Beyond Imagination". I did also show some of my films on many local film showings and festivals in both the US and Europe, such as Mile High movie shows, open screen nights, then the big premiere of "476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries" at the Mayan Theatre in Denver, where we had some very important people in attendance, as well as the Colorado Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman, who made possible the new Quentin Tarrantino's movie "The Hateful Eight". As well as many showings in Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, and many other places and local showings. I also had my film "The Cosmopolitan" about modern hidden racism, shown at the Art Prize festival in Grand Rapids, MI, and voted for for the most loved "Date Movie" as it was shown for two weeks in a row, at the oldest and biggest Beer Pub/Restaurant Landmark in Michigan, "Hop Cat".
Nevertheless, I have have a confession, in all honesty, I was never really a big fan of film festivals, or any festivals, or such competitions per se, as I never really feel comfortable in such VIP environments. I consider my self an artist first, then a filmmaker, actor, writer, producer, and I never felt comfortable in the whole image ego based celebrity style of film industry. I think that the whole "stardom" of Hollywood type film industry, looses something of that artistic humility, that gives us that necessary originality and magic, that film really is.
As my first art has always been and will always be paining and drawing, I think, envision, and live that life as a painter. Even in my movies, I always try to project my vision as sort of a painting, rather then a "product", for I don't consider art a product, but rather an expression made to leave something on.
8. What do you believe are the major turning points and landmarks on the way to success?
The major turning points and landmarks on the way to success, at least for me, I would have to say, were the war years in Croatia that shaped me and directed me to where I am today. I think that it was there where my eyes opened in many other different levels, which made me envision projects such as this story of 476 A.D. as well as my next "Tesla: Beyond Imagination", in which I already have Rade Serbedzija attached to play Nikola's father Milutin Tesla, as well as Igor Galo, who played Emperor Valentinian III in 476 A.D. Chapter One: The Last Light of Aries. As well as presently working on getting our own Croatian-Australian Eric Bana AKA Banadinovic, to play Nikola Tesla him self.
Not to mention, many more projects yet to come, of which, I'm writing one, parallel with editing and finishing the last chapter of 476 A.D. It is called "My Little Golden Gate", a WW II love story based on a true story about an American Army Air Corps pilot, stationed on the Croatian Island of Vis, in the Adriatic Sea, between Croatia and Italy 1944-45. and the love that grows between him and the local island girl.
9. What are your biggest challenges you have faced in producing a movie?
As I have previously mentioned, of the challenges I have faced, I gotta admit, by far, the biggest is this impossible historic "garage" epic story of "476 A.D.". For instance, starting from going back to 5 years ago in July 2010, with already a limited low budget, only weeks before the scheduled Principal Photography was to start on 476 A.D. some investors pulled out at the last second, and I was faced with a very tough decisions, as I had my crew all ready for the scheduled start. Do I still go forth with it and see what happens, or do I play it safe, and call it off.
Well, due to that sayings, "Fortune favors the Bold" I went ahead, and with an extremely limited budget, and impossible circumstances, gave the green light, and we went as planned.
Painting the walls of my own place blue, and using green screens, my barely 1,000 square feet place became "Ancient Rome" for a few months. Hence we ended up shooting in a 1,000 square foot studio, instead of the more preferred "professional" 10,000 studio. However, what matters is, that thanks to the help and ingenuity of our Director of Photography David Quakenbush, as well as many others, we somehow managed to make it work.
Another impossible task of this monumental undertaking was, shooting all the battle sequences for "476 A.D. Chapter Two: The Dawning of the Age of Pisces" in the middle of nowhere, for three days and two nights in Elbert, CO. with over 50 actors as Roman Legionnaires and Barbarian Ostrogoths, with real authentic armor, real swords, real axes, as well as horses. Of course, fake swords were used for real dangerous stunts.
Luck seemed to smile at us again, when just weeks before the Battle sequences, I found a talented costumographer Adrianna Veal from London, who together with her mother sewed dozens of real authentic Ostrogoth Barbarian costumes, made of cotton, wool and leather, just days before the actual shoot. As well as organizing the entire Roman and Barbarian wardrobe, during those crazy days of constant shooting. Not to mention that our professional Stunt Coordinator Eddie Portoghese, who was also the co-writer and producer on "SANE in 1974", together with his assistant, built a historic Barbarian wooden Catapult, out of which he him self as a stuntmen, was catapulted as one of the Barbarians, onto the Roman Units.
Like always, there were a bunch of other "Murphy's Laws" that occurred, such as the main character James Russell falling off the horse, and etc. But then again, we also had fun, with barbecues after the night fell, with plenty of funny stories and laughter. After all, majority of these actors and stuntmen were former military as well, and once the tents are up, and the camp fire is burning, everybody seemed to be in their element :)
Kirsten Deane as Valeria in "476 A.D. Chapter Two: The Dawning of the Age of Pisces"
10. As the world becomes digital how will that impact filmmakers? Digital distribution/on demand? How do you see the future of film?
Well, digital filmmaking has some good and bad aspects. Good that it is far more affordable now, as technically you can literally shoot and edit a movie on your iPhone, but perhaps bad, that something old magical, theatrical, and simply good'ol filmic", from the celluloid age, is also slowly dying out. I for one am a big fan of the digital age of film, as it gives such new opportunities of expression to the new generations of filmmakers, that just some 10 years ago, was impossible, and some 20 years ago, when still majority of films were made on classic celluloid film, were practically unimaginable.
I guess another thing that I was trying to achieve with this production of "476 A.D." is that parallely with the internet, I was, and still am trying to revolutionize something in the old formula process of the film production, as I believe that since 1980's Hollywood has created a monopoly on film production with making it completely un-affordable for non-Hollywood Indi filmmakers to shoot feature films, independent of Hollywood Studios. By shooting "476 A.D." with DSLR Canon EOS 7D, and the Canon Rebels, as well as the SONY EX1, HDR-FX7, Panasonic, RED Scarlet, and etc. and might I add that many movies like Act of Valor, Black Swan, The Avengers, 127 Hours, Red Tails, Public Enemies, Captain America, Red State, and many others were either all, or parts of it shot on many of these cameras.
So of course, I'm trying to ride the new wave, and at the same time, make an example, and hope to open doors to thousands of other dreamer filmmakers who have great original ideas and stories for wonderful feature films to be shot, but are simply shut down by the Hollywood Studio standards that hold the bar for the cost of the big budget productions.
I'm trying to achieve something with a very modest and affordable budget, to show fellow filmmakers that it can be done, that you don't need millions of dollars budgets, in fact that you don't even need hundreds of thousands of dollars budgets either.
For instance, as a painter, I can create my own canvas, or go and buy a package of four quality canvases 8' X 10", for literally less then $50, plus a package of basic quality brushes and oil paints, all at still under $100. That is less then $150, for everything you possibly need to make four professional 8"X10" oil paintings. And that is including good materials and paints, as I have made paintings for even much less then that. So the question comes to mind, if film is an art, is film production process really that much different then painting, or playing a guitar for that matter? Of course it is different, from the aspect of a different process of a different art form, however, no, it is not that much different, that you would have to spend literally million times more.
As a painter and a filmmaker, of course I understand that a feature film, is a combined effort of many people, compared to painting, which at the end of the day, is a one man's show. So of course a film, and especially a feature film will cost more then painting oil on canvas. However, logical question is, how much more? x 1,000,000? Or perhaps x 1,000, or maybe x 10,000?
For instance, if we do not take this extra low budget method that I use on my movies, such as the 476 A.D. story, but take a more main stream approach, we would still come to the logical question, why spend $300 million on a present Hollywood blockbuster, that can be made with the identical quality, at less then $30 million? And that is including the paying all the movie stars, pre-sales, and marketing. Then again, why even make a 30 million dollar movie, if you can in all reality make it under $3 million, and that still including A-list actors, and pre-sales from it.
The point is, that this whole movie industry structure mechanism isn't quite logical, as it caters primarily towards a monopoly style method for the very top, cutting down millions of small fish in the pool of competition. This has been a system for many decades, however, here is where things are different today compared to some 10 years ago, thanks to the digital revolution in filmmaking, thus making it affordable for the common filmmaker.
For instance, today you can get a professional SONY EX1 camera for under $5,000, a Canon 7D DSLR, with quality lenses for less then $2,500, or even the basic Canon Rebel DSLR, for less then $800, that has the similar crop factor of a 35mm Motion Picture Camera, thus even just the basic Canon T3i, or the older T2i snap and shot camera can shoot you an entire Cinematic non-video looking feature film. Not to mention that the little more expensive Canon 5D Mark III + the lenses, at some $3,500-$4,000 actually really has the 35 mm crop factor. Something that just 5 years ago was still impossible, but obviously as times are changing, and there is light on the horizon for passionate INDI filmmakers, thus we can go back to the true micro budget INDI filmmaking of the 1970's, such as David Lynch's "Erasserhead", or John Carpenter's, and Dan O'Bannon's "Dark Star".
So when you take in consideration the present digital distribution via On-Demand platforms such as Amazon On-Demand, Netflix, Hulu, and even Vimeo and Youtube On-Demand, the filmmakers are able to express them selves similarly as painters, writers, and musicians. Other then the necessary agregator distributers, required by platforms such as Amazon, or Netflix, many elements of the actual theatrical box office sails, that were crucialy necessary before, are simply dying out now, because now you can literally stream and watch a movie on your cell phone.
Ivan Pavletic on set.
11. How important is it to be active on social media and interact with fans to give them realtime and exclusive updates about the film's progress? Does it build a stronger following and buzz for films?
That might possibly be the number one thing in everything today. Social media word of mouth marketing I personally believe is the future of the entertainment marketing system. 75% of the world population finds out all their news from waking up, and opening their facebook page, on which any news about anything is momentarily visible, and especially visible via their personal facebook contacts and friends. It is the new revolution in marketing, that has by this point become simply inevitable in the times we live in.
With the overall digital revolution of everything around us, thanks to the last decade and a half progression of the Internet as we know it today, we have entered a different age. Which only earlier in my 40 year lifetime, was just a distant futuristic science fiction concept, seen in movies such as "Back to the Future". These very elements that one genius like Nikola Tesla talked about 100 years ago, before being proclaimed "crazy" and bizarre" by the scientific community of the last turn of the century.
Just in the last 10 years of social media alone, as well as streaming platforms like YouTube, the marketing aspect of the entertainment industry has changed literally from night to day, for both film and music, hence the globalization of the Age of Aquarius, that has been talked about for decades, is now really here at our doorstep. As that one song from the 1960's said "This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius".
I can probably say for my self, that I personally owe to social media such as Facebook, for the success and popularity of my movies, and pretty much any projects going on.
Not only does it create a strong following and buzz, but with interacting with fans, by giving them real-time and exclusive updates about the progress of a project, it can actually help finish the project it self, by literally gaining the necessary extra labor on the actual project.
It is surreal and funny when you actually come to think about it, the magnitude of change in this marketing process of just the last 5-10 years alone, is literally insane. While at the same time putting a fast growing shadow over the aging formula of the same old film industry protocol, that so many seem to be blindly following. It is literally a huge Checkmate to the decades old classic system of marketing, in which us older generations were educated in in the 1990's and before.
Hence bringing me back to my previous point, as to why I was never really a big fan of film festivals, or any festivals or decision making juries in charge, that seem to direct the distribution/life of so many projects, if they will see the light of the sun or not.
Like with a sign of a thumb up, or a thumb down by a Caesar in the Roman Colosseum, the fates of so many scripts, films, and songs, are decided like the slave gladiators of the old arenas. "Those who are about to die salute you". Yet such a protocol of servitude seems to be accepted by the submission mentality of the vast population of artist creators. Be that filmmakers, writers, or musicians. A deeply rooted inferiority complex within, controlled by the system based on pure competition, rejection, or failure, rather then creativity and originality.
As I said previously, my first art has always been, and will always be painting and drawing. The expression that comes from drawing, is the oldest of all the arts, and since the first drawings and paintings of the caveman, hundreds of thousands of years ago, it gives us a necessary passion for expression of life. Hence it is what comes from what art really is, the only and real truth, that can not be faked.
Like poetry, it is a music of colors that only a free man can hear, and gives the vision to the blind. It is a tune of creativity, originality, and progress, that can only truly be heard in a free soul, and a mind clear of the fear of rejection and failure. Hence art can not die, for art is not a product, but rather an expression made to leave something on, during the time of our lives on this earth.
I believe that it was Spartacus, who him self was once a slave gladiator, who some two thousand years ago once said "You are only a slave, when you accept that you are a slave".
"My first art has always been, and will always be painting and drawing."
Drawing of Robert Folijan Roki by Ivan Pavletic
Drawing of a chimpanzee by Ivan Pavletic
Drawing of an old man by Ivan Pavletic
12. Other then filmmaking and painting, what else do you also do?
Of course I do have other jobs, as majority of all the non-Hollywood filmmakers, which is about 95% of everybody, we all tend to have another mortgage paying job. Which in my case is my professional interpreting of mostly Yugoslavian languages of Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, and etc. As well as translating legal documents, and applications for cellphones, from English to Croatian, and vice versa, and similar jobs as that.
13. In the case of 476 A.D. What do you believe sets aside the story of 476 A.D. apart, from the rest of the competition?
I believe that what sets 476 A.D. apart from the rest, is really not that much, as we are all going for the similar thing, and that is to get our movies out, and get some form of fruitful successful. However, I do believe that my approach might be a little different, or at least not as usual. I don't think I'm as dependent on other people's approval as much, and that is something that might be felt in my movies. Ever since I can remember, I have always tried to be a pioneer, the first line of defense, the one who took the bullet and went forward with something when nobody else would.
Not because it was the smartest thing to do, but because I deeply believe that this is the only way of progress and change. I always wondered why I was this way, but somehow, empathy was something that was never a part of my DNA. As I mentioned earlier, to make a difference and leave a mark on this earth during one's life time, is far more important then playing it safe and conveniently neutral.
Already in the early stages of my life I learned that perfection is a fictitious deception in life, that tend to lead us towards the more primitive ego based fulfillments in life, while our spirituality seems to be stagnant. When it is really our spiritual growth that gives us the real fulfillment and makes us stronger. Even if I do prove others wrong, I don't really grow, it is only when the motive is true from the heart that it really matters. Hence I bon't try to prove others wrong, or try to make a point by contradicting somebody else or their work, but in fact, try to go forward with something, that hasn't necessarily been done before, "Go to where no man has gone before" :) I just had to say that, hahaha! And try to get others to follow me by also giving them hope.
This is one paramount thing for me, to make a difference, that once I'm gone from this earth, there is something I left, that can hopefully leave a mark for the better in the society we live in.
And if not, oh well, at least I tried...
"Don't ever be afraid to be what you truly are, and what you feel you were made to do."
14. What would be the advice that you would give to young filmmakers who dream big in this field?
Obviously, talking as much as I am, I hope I have somewhat done that already, hahaha. However, I guess the advice that I would give to young filmmakers who dream big, and all the artist dreamers, and creators of all fields, first of all, don't ever be afraid to be what you truly are, and what you feel you were made to do, and don't ever be afraid to do and create what you wish to create.
In our society, we are raised to fear rejection and failure, as the devil fears the Tamjan, or the Frankincense incense, hahaha. As if that will somehow put us below the "standard" competition rate. This in my opinion is the number one destructor of originality, ingenuity, the very thing that gives us the fuel to go forward in the first place, our very dreams. It is this fear of failure and rejection that shuts us down from the start, and that is the saddest part.
People tend to lack courage to go forward with something that somehow doesn't have a guaranteed result written in front of them, thus there lies the problem. Majority end up rather playing it safe, and work for somebody else, while not doing what they really want. As any potential failure or rejection of a project that is not really yours, is ultimately not really your failure, thus therefore eventhough the project you're working on, is not accepted, you are always safe. So of course, the majority end up going for a safe halfway, rather then facing the fear of failure or rejection.
However, the truth really is, "Audentes Fortuna Luvant AKA Fortune Favors the Bold". Of course, the fear to risk and go through with something you truly believe in is a normal thing. It is human to be afraid, but to defeat that fear of fear is really the true victory. Therefore, remember, "failure" even at an attempt to create something you truly believe in, will still tower over never attempting to create that which you envision in the first place. As one of my idol directors Francis Ford Coppola, said about this. In majority of cases, the projects that you might be criticized for today, are mostly the projects you are hailed for decades later.
Then the real question remains, what is real failure, and what is real success, and what do we really base this upon? In our present western society, our primary success is based on monetary worth. As presently we see with Donald Trump for instance, and the words he goes by, that the monetary power of his success as such, is the real power, and that power can move mountains. But, how can such power really last, if the motive is not right? It can not last, if the true element of this is really based on a fictitious nature, through only a deception of power, with a motive that can never be clean. This is not power, as such competitive nature really only leaves us with the state of incertitude, doubt, insecurity, hence an unstable society.
A human being helping another human being in need, helps him or her self as well, for such fulfillment between fellow human beings, builds spiritual bridges that can never be burned. This is real power, not the competitive nature to defeat somebody in order to gain. That leads to despair. This is something I have learned through my life, from the dark war years in Croatia to now, there is not too much more in life, than that which we really yearn for.
Our dreams of fulfilling our tasks in life.
But enough of the Jedi Yoda talk here, I think we get the point, hahaha!
Caesar Romulus Augustus (Anthony Cubba)
15. What would you say has empowered you to reach where you are?
What has empowered me to reach where I am, and might I add, where I am, I still consider only a beginning, is really a sense of priorities in life. My experiences in life have gotten me to realize what needs to be done before anything else. Time in life is relative and short, and we really don't have all the time in the world. Hence, I would say that there came the real energy, and the will to go into such a venture of creating projects such as 476 A.D.
16. If you were to compare the production of "476 A.D. Chapter One: The last Light of Aries" to any other film, which one would it be?
Oh Godfather of course! Hahahaha! I don't even have to say I'm kidding on that one.
Well, the reason why it is hard to compare it to anything else, is partially because of what I mentioned earlier, which would be the sense and need for originality. Of course, let's be real here, it's no Gone With the Wind, Ben-Hur, or Amadeus, hahaha, it's just a little low budget INDI art house experimental "garage" epic. Which by the way, was also made in a garage, hahaha.
However, even though it is hard to really compare it to anything regarding its thematic and style, when you take in consideration the low budget guerilla style method of making it, I would probably compare it to the 1973/74 low budget pioneer sci-fi film "Dark Star".
In 1970, two filmmaker dreamers from USC (University of Southern California), by the name of John Carpenter, who later made Escape from New York, and Halloween, and Dan O'Bannon who wrote the Alien franchize, based on this earlier "garage" low budget Dark Star, decided to start making a sci-fi movie about spaced out astronauts destroying unstable planets in distant space.
Now eventhough that story has absolutely nothing to do with my 476 A.D. about the Fall of Rome, what I would compare however, is the very similar low budget obstacles they were faced with. For one, when they started shooting "Dark Star" in 1970, they were still film school students at USC, just as when I started the production for 476 A.D. in 2010, I was still at the Colorado Film School and Regis University. They had a vision, however, really no realistic idea how, and if they will ever finish it, which was also very similar to my situation.
John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon had a very limited budget to work on, between their student loans and their savings, hence filming it on the weekends in their apartments, or the basement of USC, where they literally built a 4x7 foot spaceship console, somewhat similar to what I had to go through by transforming my place into a studio, in which we would film on the weekends, through many months.
I would probably say that the budget of 476 A.D. was a little higher then that of Dark Star, but that is because we shot 476 A.D. some 40 years later, and if you were to transfer the costs, based on the inflation of 1970's to the inflation of 2010's, I would say that the budget would come out somewhere similar. Similar instance could also be said for David Lynch shooting "Eraserhead" in similar circumstances between 1971-1976, and finally having it finished in 1977.
Ivan Pavletic: "The Back of Aphrodite" oil on canvas.
Formatted for CROWN by Marko Puljic Distributed by www.Croatia.org This message is intended for Croatian Associations / Institutions and their Friends in Croatia and in the World. The opinions / articles expressed on this list do not reflect personal opinions of the moderator. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, please delete or destroy all copies of this communication and please, let us know! Or simply...enjoy and spread the word and good vibrations.