WHO AM I (WHO ARE WE)
Call me Mario. You probably wouldn’t be able to pronounce my surname anyway. I already feel like an imposter, a con man. I feel embarrassed being under a spot light but I am spreading the word about this campaign. I want you to believe in me – in my authorship, which I can prove by two published books, Lacanian Thing and Lab – both in New York last year, in a city I have never been to – and a feature documentary called Kupica, whose trailer you can find on YouTube. I have taught subjects in comparative literature and film at various universities (I have lived in Croatia, Ukraine, New Zealand, Australia …) and I have travelled a lot.
Who are we? All of you who start sharing, tweeting, and encouraging people to ‘like’ this campaign, if you help me to fund this film, all of you – the dispersed and globally scattered crowd – will become WE.
Let's go together on this journey!
An International Independent Art film
Everybody dreams of a mysterious stranger. But what if, in a time of economic crisis, shadowing a mysterious stranger becomes a job – a tailjob. That is where the story begins: Daniel, in his twenties, is incited by his friends (Ana, Sally) to follow a randomly selected man from the crowd. Soon this game assumes sinister undertones. Daniel imagines that he has witnessed a murder in a dark passage of a community club which Harris, a slick, paranoid tycoon, plans to demolish. This triggers a bizarre chain of events: Mr Harris suspects that the stranger (flaneur) is a sign of some unexpected bad luck that may cause the collapse of his financial empire or stop his expanding control of the metropolis.
Daniel is hired by Mr Harris’s security men, Popay and Darling, to follow the ‘flaneur’ and to report regularly on his wanderings. Thus begins the game of reading the cityscapes – the wanderings, the walking, the following, the tailing, form the diagrams in which the killings occur, marking an urban mystical grid on which the very survival of the main protagonist and the Club depends.
The idea was born in 2009 when I was a visiting scholar in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne (Australia) and frequented a ruined building, housing a comedy club and community centre, and doomed for demolition. A first version of the script was about a small-time loser and an unsuccessful stand-up comedian, Daniel. I wrote this in Australia and the second and the third draft in Europe.
On my return to Croatia – to the city of Zagreb, I happened to witness a demonstration against a tycoon who had built a shopping mall right at the centre of the city. The demonstration – against the corporation encroaching on every inch of urban space – made me think about the script. Doesn’t the same story happen in different cities? Does it have to be a metropolis? I began to think about a new setting for Tailjob. I started to look at the town with fresh eyes. With its flaying facades, with its graffiti-stained walls, the town looked ruinous, with decay spreading through its urban fibres. I thought of Kafka, how along those semi obscure streets a clerk could drag his way, exhausted and forlorn, or behind those walls one could be transformed into a beetle, as in Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I drafted a new version of the script. All the layers and styles from my previous drafts were blended into a Kafkaesque atmosphere: French new wave, film noir, and dreamlike sequences following Hitchcockian poetics. The city once more seemed alive – as the main, yet very different protagonist. We tested this by shooting some scenes involving tailing. It worked. The city unfolded through numerous shots, different camera angles, unusual vistas, panoramic vignettes, revealing to us depressive alienation and horrifying beauty as if walking through its labyrinth.
And I hope that you will enjoy viewing it on the film.
The characters the crew, the shooting...
The story, however, is not just about a city: it is, first of all, about people. And the first one, the main protagonist around whom all characters revolve, is the mysterious stranger – the flaneur. I was inspired by Walter Benjamin’s version of the flaneur – a lonesome figure, a modern urban spectator, a roving eye of the primordial private dick, “a botanist of the sidewalk” as in Baudelaire’s phrase. Drawing on urban culture of 19th century Paris, Benjamin transformed the flaneur into a concept, a detached creature, “the casual eye of the stroller” with the purposeful gaze of the detective, a creature blending into the city streets, in a crowd, the man in the crowd seeing the city as an alienated landscape.
In our film, the flaneur is like a ghost who physically manifests in the urban labyrinth. His translucent personality, like a phantom, haunts the narrative of the film, leaving a tinge of himself, of his latent, slightly skewed figure in a brownish trench coat, zombie-like gaggling, as though he were leaping into and out of his surroundings.
The death of Benjamin’s flaneur in the sterile capitalist wastelands of department stores does not mean the death of the flaneur for everyone else. Not for Harris, at least.
Harris is paranoid. He thinks that everybody is plotting against him and his business empire. The flaneur may be a ghost in more ways than one: for Benjamin he may be a cold, dead thing from an epoch of old, but for the mighty tycoon he is a cipher, a sign of a catastrophe. First, the flaneur appears in Harris’s dream, right in the middle of the city, and then slowly spreads through urban veins, eating his way to its very core, into the centre of Harris’ business. Harris is suspicious of everyone and everything and his security men would need an army of detectives and spies, like some totalitarian state, to check all his guesses. Because of that, understaffed and under-resourced, Darling and Popay hire a small time loser – Daniel.
Daniel becomes a machine to register the flaneur’s movements around the city. In spite of this tailing, the dilemma about the stranger’s identity constantly hangs in the air: Who is this man in the crowd? Is he just a randomly selected passer-by, one out of millions of ordinary citizens, or a real assassin sent by a rival corporation, or even a messenger of heavenly morality?
Daniel gets in a mess – being employed by lazy mobsters to shadow a total stranger – thanks to his friends, Ana and Sally. It is Anna who reads Walter Benjamin’s essay to both of them…. It is Daniel who falls in love with Ana...
Cast: Mladen Vujcic as Daniel; Drazen Sivak as Harris; Zeljko Vukmirica as Popay; Asim Ugljen as Darling; Katarina Arbanas as Ana, Gordana Dzepina as Sally, Marko Cindric as Mrki; Tomislav Pletenac as flaneur…
Director of photography: Bojana Burnac
Sound artist: Brendon Labelle
Performers: Triko Circus Theatre (Iva Peter Dragan, Christian Rene Peter…)
What we need and what you get:
I hope that you are still with me, that you are seriously considering this auteur cinema. (For those of you who are not familiar with the expression: auteur theory holds that a director’s film reflects the director’s personal creative vision, as if they are the primary “auteur” – the French word for “author”.)
In order to make this auteur film a reality we need $12,000.
Of course, your crowd funding enthusiasm depends on how beautiful the reality of making this film would be. We need to reach our goal to do justice to all aspects of remaining production and post-production work. Having financed most of the preproduction – the script, the shooting list, the auditions and rehearsal spaces, casting and shooting some scenes – we have reached the limits of our self-financing capabilities.
Preproduction: Securing locations, props (especially guns and machineguns) and audition spaces for background artists, renting a limousine (all the mobsters travel in a white limousine – in a stark contrast to the ruinous and decayed city). - $2,000
Production: Crew members for their time while on set for 12+hours; rentals and expenses (renting/purchasing equipment to shoot the project, location agreements, security, extras, steadicam package, grip and electric equipment, sound equipment, catering, hair and make-up, trailer….). - $6,000
Post-Production and Marketing: Publicity materials, editing the project, colour correction, sound, music score, posters, festival submissions, translation, subtitles. Since the film will be in Croatian, it will be of special importance to translate and subtitle it so that you can enjoy it in live streaming (one time only) and so that the film can be sent to various festivals around the world. - $4,000
Other Ways You Can Help
We know that money can be tight and that not everyone can contribute financially – but there are still things you can do to help out!
Let me illustrate this with the very end of the film when the mighty tycoon Harris is trapped in a labyrinthine abandoned hospital on the outskirts of the city. He indeed has deciphered a code – according to Daniel’s data and urban grids, and he predicted where the fourth murder would take place – and yet his victory, as a matter of fact, is his defeat. The flaneur sneaks up behind him and points a gun at his back. The businessman tries to bribe him: all his bodyguards are dead and his life depends on a bargain...... What is a real price? The motto not just for this situation but for the entire film and our crowd funding could be verses from Berthold Brecht’s The Measures Taken:
What is cotton actually? / Do I know what cotton is?/ God knows what cotton is!/ I don't know what cotton is!/ I only know its price./ Likewise men – they need too much food/ And so men get to cost more. .... (...) What is a man actually?/ Do I know what a man is?/God knows what a man is./ I don't know what a man is./ I only know his price.
Of course, nobody knows what the price of art is (at least they used to believe that). Nobody knows what the price of a flaneur is, nor who he really is. This opens a door to your priceless support – get the word out, spread the word about our project. Make some noise! Use the share tools above especially. Whether you are posting an update on LinkedIn, updating your Facebook status, tweeting to your followers or sharing our video on your YouTube channel, blog about it, email a link to where you shared the project or email a screen shot, check this site for new updates.... EVERY little bit helps. Every little bit is PRICELESS.
It is hard to measure the impact of a singular film (especially an auteur film). However, this project goes far beyond you just being my audience. Of course, I want you to become my audience – this is our first goal. Then, in the projects to come, I want you to take a much more active role: to join us in guerrilla filmmaking. This is a shift from a crowd to a multitude, from crowd funding to the crowd becoming a swarm – the seeds of radical global social transformation. Let me describe the beginning of this process with the most famous quote in film history: “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship”, as they say in Casablanca.