Scriptwriter of the Month: Rene Maurin

Rene Maurin is a Slovene scriptwriter and director who dwells with different art forms including theatre directing and photography. The photo exhibition Rebus that he worked on with Matjaž Wenzel opened at Photon in Ljubljana on 14th of December. If you won’t be visiting Ljubljana in the following period, you can still check out our short conversation with Rene and find out a bit more about his projects at his MTSW profile.

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

Let me check that list. I have a problem with favourites — there are simply too many to rank them fairly. I am guilty of spitting out the first five films that came to my mind for that occasion.

Let’s try, however.

Kwaidan (1964) by Masaki Kobayashi — I have a big interest in traditional narratives and convergence of theatrical and cinematic vehicles of expression. Furthermore, Kobayashi’s Kwaidan is an explosion of visual storytelling. Watching the Criterion restored transfer is a perpetual “eyegasm”. Have a cigarette ready!

 

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) by Jacques Demy — because it simply wants to make me cry like a little girl and it is doing that in beautiful colours.

It Rains in My Village (1968) by Aleksandar Petrović — There is a whole fleet of Yugoslav directors that flew in the shadow of those couples lauded ones. Many of their grand films are forgotten and obscure. One needs to dig for illegal copies recorded from old TV broadcasts — it is a disgrace for ex-Yugoslavian countries letting these pricey collective efforts rot in some archive. It Rains in My Village is one of the pearls from the times, our cultures were not almost entirely dissolved in generic consumerism.

Yumeji (1991) by Seijun Suzuki — the Taisho trilogy is a masterpiece of film language… I am, however, not such fan of Suzuki’s most famous earlier films.

La grande bellezza (2013) by Paolo Sorrentino — because he rekindles the spirit of neorealism in the 21st century without making it look nostalgic and old.

Why did you decide to go into film?

I was always highly confused about my professional aspiration and perhaps still am. I started studying architecture and switched to theatre directing. After finishing my degree, I unexpectedly started shooting documentary films for the Slovene National Television. When the chief editor changed, I suddenly fell out of grace and ventured back into the theatre where I spent the next 10 years.

Anyway, despite being keen of most art forms I always considered film as some kind of “holy grail” — a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk that is so depressingly hard to get done, yet impossible not to yearn for.

Perhaps my love for the film also springs from the viewer’s standpoint. Unlike other art-forms, I was somehow always able to enjoy a film. Even mediocre or bad films seem fun to watch and ponder upon. This is something I cannot say about theatre, music, photography…

Commercial films or art house?

I feel this division is serving critical discussion and classification at its best. At its worse, it is nothing but a pose to identify with. Different films have different ambitions, and the question is how well they achieve it.

However, films that show little ambition besides commercial rumination are of little interest to me. That does not mean a good film cannot kill at the box office, of course.

Saying this, I love a good entertaining film very well.

How and when did you begin writing?

I started writing around 2000, initially for my documentary films. Later I wrote a few columns, some prose, a bundle of unfinished poems — I could never stay lovesick long enough to finish one. I adapted one or two theatre plays for my own needs and regularly flirted with letters.

Writing for fiction film, however, started only when I enrolled in the master course for film directing. Since then, I somehow wrote a few short film scripts that are taking an innocent nap in my drawer. I have a basket of other synopses for short and feature films. I am trying to prepare myself to finish a feature film script while I am in dire need of a producer that can display some enthusiasm and help a filmmaker keep his hopes afloat.

Perhaps I shall organize a Christmas lottery for the few of my literate friends.

Where do you like to write the most?

If I had the possibility, I would want a little office on a train. Trains somehow calm my neurosis and sharpen my focus. As this is not possible, any quiet, dry, well-tempered room will do.

What kind of music do you listen to while writing?

I write painfully slow, except for the occasional “dialogue frenzy.” I spend more time thinking than writing and the music can vary heavily. As I also direct, I often find myself listening to music I mull over as a reference for the music or the atmosphere of the film.

Music is an important phenomenon.

Where do ideas come from?

I do not start writing from ideas. Usually, everything begins by feeling a strong attitude to certain human phenomena or subject. Once I pinpoint what exactly provokes me, I start thinking about what tone could reflect my convictions. Is it ironic? Perhaps bitter? Do I want to mock something, sooth, and comfort or perhaps simply meditate upon the theme?

After I figure out all this, I let it go for some time to see if it’s sticking with me. When this incubation is done, I start searching for ideas that could represent my take on the subject.

I see the idea as a building block of something larger. Perhaps as the mortar or brick, never the whole house worth moving in.

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

I am fine where I am. Maybe I’d like to work somewhere where creative industries are developed better. It is always easy to romanticize times, spaces and people we don’t experience tête-à-tête daily.

The only changes I would like to make are changes in certain facets of myself. Sometimes this seems harder than time-travel.