Scriptwriter of the Month: Strahinja Mlađenović

Strahinja Mlađenović is 29-year-old filmmaker and novelist from Novi Sad, Serbia. In 2019, he published his novel Locus amoenus. It’s a story of a young writer Andrej who, looking for utopia in literature, becomes a victim self isolation. Sounds familiar?

While we are waiting to go out of isolation, check out what Strahinja’s working on on his MTSW profile.

And of course, read his answers to our 8 favourite questions.

 

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

These films explore different aspects of the phenomenon called “true love”. They show that there’s no one definition, nor rational explanation behind it. That it manifests itself in various ways: through faith and goodness, the poetry of everyday routines, dreams, but also through chaos and violence, and that it can be weird as hell. All of these films, with their unique stylization, portray the inner world of lovers which is far more real than what we refer to as “reality” today.

Why did you decide to go into film?

I fell in love with the magic of the silver screen in my youth, as most people do. But the point in which I realized I want to make movies is the point when I realized that people have lost the ability to communicate. We don’t have the time nor the will to listen to what the other has to say. It all comes down to petty quarrels where the goal is to force our opinions on others and avoid the need to change. In such a situation where dialogue has become impossible, there’s a need for a deeper kind of communication on a subconscious level that can penetrate those self-imposed barriers.  And the powerful images of cinema have the strength to achieve that.

• Commercial films or art house?

This very question shows that the above-mentioned strength of cinema is rapidly fading. These labels are the sign that the art of film has turned into an industry where every “product” needs to have a designated place. Films need to have the audience, but “commercial recipes” are the underestimation of that audience. On the other hand, only film as art has the strength to communicate on the subconscious level, but that communication is not possible if the majority of the audience is left with no point of entry.

This problem goes far beyond the capitalistic system we live in. The language of film has been formed by a few who had been lucky to be present at the very birth of cinema.  We still use the same dictionary, while the complete structure of the novel has been changed a hundred times since its birth. Storytelling is at the heart of every art, and there’s no way that all the stories can be told using the same language. Of course, there’d been additions and changes, but Lars von Trier is probably the last “solder of cinema” who has truly pushed the boundaries in terms of film language. It’s not that there are no authors who are still fighting to make the change, but the problem is that the audience has gotten used to the language that’s outdated. That’s how labels are made. So, by making this choice, the author inevitably sacrifices some part of his own unique film vocabulary.

Of course, you can’t go around talking nonsense for most people. I think the goal should be to take the existing film language and start the revolution from the inside-out, changing it gradually so the audience can keep up the pace. It may seem like a Sisyphean task, but I have faith.

• How and when did you begin writing?

When I first experienced something too big to be kept inside, something that reaches its true value only when shared with the world. Love, probably.

• Where do you like to write the most?

I write everywhere, all the time. When I get an idea, a lot of time can pass until I’m ready to put it on paper. But during all that time, I’m constantly writing in my head, until the story is complete. I keep a small notebook by my side at all times, in case some line, description, or a scene becomes fully formed.

When it’s time to set all that on paper, I always do it behind the desk in my room. I have various light fixtures, trinkets, photos, and paintings I need to set up before I begin writing the story down. Each story requires a different atmosphere and my room is the only place where I can establish it to the last detail.

• What kind of music do you listen to while writing?

When it comes to putting words to paper, I need silence. Of course, every story brings its own songs to mind, which I listen to during cigarette brakes or walks.

• Where do ideas come from?

From experiences that have remained with us long enough to become memories. These experiences don’t have to belong solely to us. We all remember things in our own way, and that’s the point when they become stories. They also don’t need to be actionable, since our souls are always on the move unwittingly. In my personal experience, the smiles of girls and talking teddy bears are always a reliable source.

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

Infinity in the arms of a lover.