How did you first become involved in the production of The Tube with a Hat?
I met Radu during the production of an American feature called Vacuums of which I was the Romanian line producer and he was one of the assistant directors. This was in 2001. In that connection, we spent two months of intense "production life." But also, as it happens during film production, it was a very good time in terms of discovering people, ideas, wishes. We stayed in contact afterwards and became good friends. Radu came by one day with the script of Tube and it was for me like re-discovering a whole magic world of childhood, yet at the same time so simple and human. I felt in love with the script at first sight and I knew that Radu had the capacity to turn it in a great film. It took us a while until we got the money to do the film. (It was first rejected by the Romanian film fund, then it took one more year when we could again apply for funding.)
What exactly was your own role during the various phases of the production? And how do you define your producer role in general?
This is hard to define. I was close to the project, trying to understand Radu's vision at its best, supporting him, sharing ideas on how I saw the characters but never interfering with his own vision, just supporting him.
I think a creative producer has to find ways to understand the director and the crew and supply them with everything they need at the best level. Creativity should be used in terms of finding solutions to serve the film within the existing budgetary limitations. I don't believe that a producer should interfere with the vision of the director but to deeply understand and support it. In a way, the producer should be like a parent, guiding a child, offering him all the means to best succeed in life but not by imposing things. For me producing is a kind of motherhood. And there is one more thing that is a key to success in the relation of the producer with the film crew: it is called respect - for the film, for the people, for the work.
How do you feel about the casting of the two major roles in the film?
I can't see any other kid more suited for this role than Marian. It took a lot of work to find him. Anitza, the assistant director and Radu saw hundreds of kids from schools around Bucharest. Marian was very shy and his family wasn't very interested […], but Radu won their confidence for life and they are now very supportive and close to us. For the father I had in mind Gabriel Spahiu from the first minute but Radu again wanted to see almost all the actors of his age who were available. It was an extensive casting and it was good because it convinced us that we were making the right choice. Funny enough, for the final final casting of the father we had two choices: one was Gabriel Spahiu and the other one was Vlad Ivanov - the actor who plays Mr. Bebe in Cristian Mungiu's 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. Just a few weeks ago Marian told us that he would've gone for Vlad Ivanov to be his father but now he feels comfortable with Gabriel Spahiu.
The film is picking up one prize after another at international festivals. What in your own opinion are the reasons for its success?
I think is mainly the honesty of the storytelling. Otherwise I really don't know. It is like a never-ending wonderful dream.This seems to be something of a golden age for Romanian film. Would you agree, and if so, why is this happening at present?
Yes it is, indeed. I don't have an explanation for this. I think we had things to say, to show, to offer to the viewer but we weren't ready to express them before. Now I think Romanian filmmaking has been reborn and grown up, matured.
Is there anything else you would like to add at this point?
No, it's really hard to speak about this subject. I don't have a logical theory about this. I'm only more than happy to be part of it, here, in Romania, now. And I have to say that now we are very busy preparing new Romanian films, hopefully as good as the ones that have already received recognition around the world. We have this challenge to keep staying "on the wave". There are voices that are already saying: "yes, it is here now, but after one or two more films Romania will be forgotten. It can't last any longer." We have to do our best to prevent this.
Is there any advice you would give to student filmmakers about to make their own first short films?
Believe in what you do. If you are not sure that a subject is really what you have to say, than don't do it. It doesn't have to be "trendy", it doesn't have to be "original", it has to be yours. Entirely.
December 6, 2007
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