Scriptwriter of the Month: Paša Petrović

Paša Petrović is Serbian scriptwriter with Berlin address. She graduated from the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade and received her MA degree in Theatre Studies from Freie Universität in Berlin.

If you would like to know a bit more about what she works on, check her MTSW profile here.

  • What makes the 5 films on your Top 5 list so special?

MANHUNTER – This film has it all. On the surface such an air-tight, perfectly crafted thriller, so monumental that it single-handedly bore the entire genre of serial killer movies and forensic TV shows we are so accustomed to by now. With its sleek, poppy soundtrack and heavily tinted shots, it is also a quintessential Mann movie. But I hold MANHUNTER so dear because it uses the parable of a serial killer to expound on how we project ourselves outwardly, how we assemble and perform our personalities in order to connect to others. In my opinion, no other film ever came close. “As I see me, accepted by you, in the silver mirrors of your eyes…”

ROBOCOP – Nobody does satire like Verhoeven. People often think of ROBOCOP as a sort of also-ran in the TERMINATOR genre, but there’s so much more to it. I love it because of its biting portrayal of late capitalism that never seems to veer into hand-wringing or boring stereotypes. Also it doesn’t hurt that it is an immaculate Reagan-era testosterone-heavy action movie.

ANGEL HEART – Occult motives in cinema are always something that gets my interest, and this neo-noir is a great example. I also love that it’s set in New Orleans, and utilizes its bustling atmosphere to great effect.

EXTREME PREJUDICE – Probably the last great Western, that is not actually a Western. It has it all: two childhood friends on the opposite sides of the law, a beautiful girl they both love, and a van full of grizzled mercenaries with shady intentions. The climactic shootout at the end is sort of a metaphorical sendoff to a type of heroic masculinity that was never portrayed on the big screen in that way again. A fitting love letter to Peckinpah. Oh, and there is mariachi music.

SHOWGIRLS – Just like ROBOCOP gets to be the “film with the robot” in the popular consciousness, SHOWGIRLS is also unfairly known as “that movie with all the tits, and there are chimpanzees eating lipstick in the dressing room.” I love a movie which shows a female protagonist’s descent into filth and madness, we do not get to have a lot of those. And the atmosphere of a seedy underbelly in a big city and the accompanying characters who lurk in it is extremely spot-on. Maybe even disgustingly so.

  • Why did you decide to go into film?

Because I decided I want to do that back when I was a kid, and kids are not really good at making rational decisions for the future? Well that, and I’ve always been fascinated by stories on the big screen and wanted to make my own stories come to life.

  • Commercial films or art house?

Pre-2012 I would have probably said “commercial” without a second thought, because I really love movies that use blood squibs and I really hate movies about a French guy going through a divorce. But the entire explosion of comic book adaptations happened, and now cinemas are overrun by three-hour films of various guys in tights punching out CGI monsters/CGI robots/CGI Gaddafi and I don’t know what to think anymore.

  • How and when did you begin writing?

In kindergarten. Honest. My parents are both writers so I guess that was my clumsy attempt at emulating grownups. I even self-published a book of short stories, complete with my own illustrations, when I was five. Did not sell much, but my parents bought a copy.

  • Where do you like to write the most?

That’s a trick question, I hate writing. I loathe it. I hate even looking at the Microsoft Word desktop shortcut on my screen. It fills me with anxiety. It is pure torture. But afterwards, when you actually have produced something, and you get to bother friends and family for feedback before you start pitching? I love it. It’s great. I can do it anywhere.

  • What kind of music do you listen while writing?

I don’t listen to music while writing, but music plays an extremely important part in my creative process and my life in general. My “other” job involves booking gigs and doing tour management for bands, so I get a lot of inspiration not only from music, but on the road as well. I’ve been writing an occult thriller based on Jello Biafra and the Melvins’ cover of “Halo of Flies” and I am really stoked to wrap it up. Hopefully I don’t get hit with a copyright strike now that I said that.

  • Where do ideas come from?

As I said, often from music. Mostly from stuff that happens to me. Sometimes from stuff other people tell me about. Or maybe just a general atmosphere that I feel someplace. It’s difficult to pin down.

  • If you could go anywhere in space and time, where would that be?

No idea. The World seems like a weird place right now, but I am also pretty sure I would have really been happy dying from cholera in the Dark Ages. As for a place… Now that I mentioned it when talking about Angel Heart, New Orleans seems beautiful. I wish I could check it out.