Campus Cowork community was, is and we hope will always be about creative people, successful entrepreneurs, people who had a great idea and were not afraid to develop it, or in short about all of you who help us build it every day. In this series of articles, we will introduce you to interesting members of our community, their projects, and we believe that we will get to know each other even better.
Some time ago we talked to Viktor Stefanak about his enthusiasm about everything business related. But, did you know we also have a person from the film industry in Campus Cowork? Today, in the form of a short interview, we will introduce the director Viera Čákanyová!
At the beginning we love to see what people think about us and get some feedback. Can you share what comes to your mind first when someone says Campus Cowork? Feel free to add your second thoughts, as well. 🙂
Great view. 🙂 A pleasant workplace in the city center, from where I am close to everything. I can sit in a different spot every day, plus there are people working around me, so it forces me to overcome laziness and procrastination tendencies and also do something.
Can you tell us something about yourself, what is your profession, the project you are currently working on, or which aspect of your job makes you “look forward to Monday”?
I am a movie director, but sometimes also a dramaturg of other film projects, an editor, a cameraman, out of necessity sometimes also a producer and accountant. Together with my colleagues, two girls and one boy, we own the production company Guča s.r.o., in which we mainly focus on the production of movies by young debuting directors from the region and current social issues. I have just finished my third feature film – a personal sci-fi documentary Notes from Eremocén, which will soon be in alternative cinema distribution in Slovakia.
I’m looking forward to Monday because I can finally go to Campus to work 🤭. And why do I enjoy my work? Um… because it’s unpredictable. A person comes up with something and it turns out completely different, because a million variables enter the process. But this is also sometimes a source of considerable stress… Above all, you should not take yourself too seriously.
As a movie director, what does your work day look like? Do you come to the office in the morning and focus on work or do you need a more flexible routine?
Haha. Whoever can fully concentrate should raise his hand 🤭. I just normally struggle with my incredibly inventive brain trying to convince me that it’s much more fun to do anything other than what I’m trying to do… So you have to be disciplined, and that’s where the routine helps – that I’m going somewhere and there I sit on my butt and it’s a workspace so I have to work. Then sometimes the brain wins and I procrastinate for a while, go for a coffee or meet someone. My work at Campus is mostly writing – right now I’m writing a grant for my next film.
In your latest film Notes from Eremocén, you reflect on the potential of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence. Is the topic of new technologies close to you? Or maybe do you use some latest tech advances during your work?
Technologies are close to me more out of necessity – often I think about their influence, how they change society and where it all leads. Yes, some technology can help us solve the complicated problems we generate as a civilization, but I’m not overly techno-optimistic. I avoid social networks, I only use them very passively, I have no need to leave behind unnecessary traces in the online space. I don’t even need to make myself visible. I prefer to walk in the forest or sail on a boat without a signal. Yes, in Notes I use different technologies – neural network for voice cloning, lidar, I talk about blockchain, I am creating the story of Satoshi – the inventor of Bitcoin.
But all this is transformed by my artistic imagination. Thanks to art a person can afford a “wild guess”, which comes only from his intuition and is not subject to strict scientific proof.
Your profession must be quite fascinating for other people. In the Campus community, we have many people who are engaged in some creative activity. Do you have tips (and tricks) on how to overcome a creative block and get into “I’m ready to create” mode?
I don’t have any magic trick that works like this 🤭. Routine helps. One has to sit on one’s ass and work hard. Sometimes even harder. Write. Then throw away half of it and repeat and so on and on. A lot of people have romantic ideas about creative work, but it’s normal drudgery like any other job. Also a lot of purpose ballast. Creative process, the fun part, is just the icing on the cake.
The film industry faces many obstacles in Slovakia (low cinema attendance, etc.), does this situation affect your work in any way?
It does not directly affect my work. I have never made mainstream films that would have a large audience in cinemas. Many people lost interest in going to the cinema, the pandemic didn’t help, neither did all the Netflixs and HBOs etc. Even mainstream films won’t make money, because Slovakia is a small market. The problem is also that, for example, Bratislava lacks any pleasant community cinema with added value and interesting dramaturgy, where people would go to have a drink and talk, participate in a discussion after the movies or other events.
According to ČSFD portal, you are focusing on alternative films. Can it support a person without an investor and grants? How do you perceive this side of your “business”, i.e. economy, cashflow and such “excel” business essentials?
As I said before, even mainstream films do not make money in Slovakia. They all depend on grants, public resources. But that is simply (at least for now) a social agreement – art must be supported, because not all social usefulness can be measured by profit and money. In Slovakia, the Audiovisual Fund is the largest, stable source of audiovisual financing. But that is not enough, you have to cover the budget from several sources, co-productions with other countries, with televisions, then there are large European grants, but also private donors. Of course, if a person is smart and knows how to find these resources and convince them that their projects are worth it, you can make a living from it. Of course, it also depends on the type of project and what your life needs are. You will survive on alternative films by the skin of your teeth.
Do you have any favorite movies from Slovak (co)production?
Definitely worth seeing from recent times – Služobníci, Cenzorka, Obeť, Jednotka intenzivního života, Let domov. Then there are interesting films for the more demanding viewer on the VOD portal Dafilms.sk – a bit of an advertisement for myself as the portal in Slovakia is run by my two colleagues 🙂. It mainly offers “Film d’auteur” documentaries and other independent creative film works, with a large part of Central European production.
We are always trying to make our premises enjoyable and inspiring for our members. Did our coworking space and/or community influence your project? Have you maybe met someone who suggested a great idea since you have been our member? (If not, is there anything you are looking for right now? We are here to help!)
I am satisfied. It is my temporary refuge, it fulfills its role. So far, I haven’t had too many opportunities to talk with other members, but I haven’t spent too much time here yet and haven’t participated in any community events. Usually when I come, I need to work, so I don’t even look for small talk. But not all days are over yet 🙂.