ROBERT GAJIC, Director (WEBSITE)
Short form vs. Feature length?
I think short films are fairly appreciated, but features obviously dominate the entertainment industry since that’s a studios bread and butter. Its rare that you hear about an “amazing” short film though, they don’t really get promoted much, but when you do hear of one, I think people check them out. Shorts can be great calling cards but getting it in front of people is the hard part. Back in 2004 I made a short called “Meridiem” that had its world premiere and opened Comic-Con’s International Film Festival and the cast and crew and I walked around San Diego for days, passing out flyers and cards, going to comic book stores and promoting the shit out of it. When the film screened, I think there were 10 people who showed up other than friends and family. I couldn’t even give the film away for free to actors and other hollywood folks.
With “The Ally”, we didn’t have any “celebrity” attached behind or in front of the camera. Don’t get me wrong, my cast and crew were amazing! Keenan Henson was spot on for the role of the Pilot and Isaiah was a local hire where we shot in Brownsville and they both were incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better crew either…check out the film and imdb them and you’ll see what an amazing bunch of people we had. But what I notice more and more is that you either need celebrity clout, connections, or just plain luck. And none of those are easy to come by. We relied on telling a simple story and telling it as best we could and for that I couldn’t be more proud. I wish I knew how to get it in front of more people, I guess getting it online, onto sites like Vimeo and YouTube is a growing trend for emerging filmmakers to showcase their work where they would usually get turned down by everyone else. My only wish is for people to see the film and enjoy it.
Film School - Would you do it again?
Thats a really tough question. I am a bit biased now that I went to school and have been out for a few years. Looking back, I wish I had taken the money I spent on film school and went out and made movies. But that’s me now. When you’re in your early 20’s and everyone tells you that you need to graduate college you go “ok…I’ll do that cause that’s the normal and sensible thing to do”. Film school is funny like that. It can be neither a normal nor a sensible decision. But you do make connections in film school and you get involved on projects and you collaborate. Another positive is you gain technical experience, you learn how a set works and you’re roll on it, but most importantly, you make connections, you start building your network. You need those connections when you get out of school, penniless and desperate for a job. You call your film school buddies and hopefully they’ve managed a job somewhere and they can get you in. The downside to film schools these days is that it’s become such a lucrative business for educators. The schools are hard to get into, expensive as hell, and there is no guarantee of employment when you graduate. It sure helps a bit if you’ve attended a prestigious film school (I won’t name names), but for those who don’t, you’re at a fairly large disadvantage. However you look at it, school or no school, you better really want to be a filmmaker and have compelling stories that you want to tell and be able to tell them well. Film school can teach you how to light a scene and move the camera and use a computer to edit or the fundamentals of writing, but it can’t teach you how to make a compelling, engaging and entertaining film or television show. For those who skipped school and became successful…..you lucky bastards.
Digital vs. Film?
I think the choice of format depends on the project. If I was doing a traditional narrative I would prefer to shoot with film and save digital for a documentary where you are shooting interviews. Don’t get me wrong, digital formats are amazing and very convenient, but film is still a superior format, although it’s sad to see the era of film is quickly disappearing. Now with the DSLR, for a few hundred dollars you can get a fantastic camera that allows you to shoot stills and video. I own one and its great! But I have to say that I am glad I had film to start with. There is something about how when you have a digital camera you tend to shoot a ton of images and then you can delete stuff later, where as when I shoot film I am more calculated and more cautious and I feel like I approach what I photograph with a bit more craft. But thats a personal thing. It’s making the world of creative arts easier, but not necessarily more creative.