Lun Sevnik • Director of Playing
“I am not really a fan of ‘hope’, but I will be glad if the film can open up discussion”
- As his Czech short film Playing prepared to screen at EFP’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary, we caught up with Slovenian director Lun Sevnik to talk about it
Bold and confrontational, Playing is the story of two teenagers who promise to commit suicide. Cast into the role of those watching via the internet, the audience is treated to a tense and sobering treatise on their potential final moments.
Director Lun Sevnik – originally born in Ljubljana, Slovenia – is a student at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (FAMU) and will celebrate the world premiere of the film as part of EFP’s Future Frames at Karlovy Vary 2019 (28 June-6 July). Cineuropa talked to Sevnik about the inspiration behind the film and playing games with the audience.
Cineuropa: Was there a particular real life event that inspired the events in Playing?
Lun Sevnik: A year before I started to write the script I read an article about a young Russian couple that posted a picture on Instagram announcing their intention to commit suicide. My first thought was ‘…what happened after that Instagram post? What do you do in that last hour? What if one is sure about decision and another is not?’ This is how the process started.
There are a few things that seem provocative about the film. Firstly, the title ‘Playing’ suggests naivety and childishness but there are serious consequences. Also the way in which you flick between different perspectives - one of which puts the audience in the role of computer viewer, unable to do anything the events unfurling in front of them.
I remember when my grandfather was telling me how people from the Croatian town of Sali went to watch a western for the second time and ‘shot’ the screens because they wanted to kill the bad guy. You pay to watch the film that you cannot change. On one hand it’s frustrating because you can’t change what’s in front of you. But on the other hand, you’re relieved of the responsibility for what’s happening.
Livestream videos put this on next level. The drama is not edited and there is less chance for manipulation. But you still can’t change it and you’re just an observer of a live play. Hugo and Boris may be naive, but so are we by watching them do what they do. They tell us what will happen in the end. Why are we still watching it? We still have hope. But since the movie is already done, hope in this case is just a metaphysical value and is childish. And yes, it’s a film about ‘playing’ with the audience.
How did you approach finding Miloslav Pecháček and Rudolf Tříška who are the leads in the film?
Miloslav Pechaček (AKA Slava) was there from the beginning. He was in the first year of the camera department at FAMU and I had his profile photo on my phone from the first draft of the screenplay – and I still have it. When I saw him it was so obvious that he is the one. But still - before realising that I wouldn’t find a copy of him - I ended up seeing 140 boys for the casting. This is not small number for second year school movie!
With Rudolf it was different. He played a small role in the film We Are Never Alone [+see also:
interview: Petr Vaclav
film profile]. I saw it and was amazed. So we met. He was shy and he told me that he didn’t want to act again. But after five days he called and said he changed his mind.
There was chemistry between Slava and Rudolf but since there was an age gap of almost five years it was hard to make them “friends”. What happened organically was that Rudolf started to see Slava as his older brother while Slava was aware of this and used this brotherly admiration. This was exactly what I needed for the film…
It is difficult to balance the tone of a film such as this when there is a unmistakable air of nihilism?
The tone was mostly created in the editing room. My editor Maja Benc had had a son a few months and we were editing the most “nihilistic” scenes with a child who was only a few months old sleeping in the other room and I still think this had impact on the editing. Another part of postproduction and the tone of the film was the animation of the live stream. Me and Kryštof Melka, the film’s cinematographer, wrote around 650 comments and we needed to invent characters who had different levels of empathy and a different sense of humour. It created another level of dramaturgy
The film will be heading into Karlovy Vary as part of Future Frames to have its world premiere. What are you hoping for while there?
I am happy about the fact that people who worked hard for that short film and believed in it will be able to see it on big screen. Like I said before I am not really a fan of “hope”. But I will be glad if the film will open up discussion.
What projects can we expect from you next?
In two months we are shooting my bachelor film. We are developing the project with the MIDPOINT Short Progamme and it is called Progress. After that I will apply for master program of directing on FAMU and recently I also started to write a treatment my first feature film.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.