Romina, Olimpia, Millo, Andrei & Andrei, Florin, Ana, Iliana and Roxana. They’re plenty, I know. But together they form such an awesome team, that it would have been rude not to mention every single one of them. Ten courageous crazy people that met, liked each other and did a web series which is 100% Romanian – CASTiNG, written by the main four actresses.
We talked about courage and taking risks, about what these new online formats mean for the local industry. Then we had lots of fun with the girls while listening to stories from the set and by the end, I got some insight on what’s next. If I made you curious in any way, read the full interview below. And even if not, you should still read it.
DIRECTORS & PRODUCERS
- CASTiNG is one of the first Romanian web series. What are your expectations?
Iliana Dumitrache, director & producer: I hope our courage and enthusiasm will be appreciated. I’m waiting excited for the first reviews and feedback. I have no idea where this adventure may lead us but I think it will set on a new trend and I can’t wait to see if I was right (laughs)
Rox Andrei: I’m trying to have no expectations but it doesn’t seem to work. I really wish people will click on our link and once they do it, watch an episode until it ends. And to be even more idealistic than that, it would be so cool to see a change in the way people see the local online formats. Maybe CASTiNG could the start of a new trend. Oh, and I wish for a new season!
Millo Simulov: Season no. 2
Andrei Ion: I worked a lot and with a lot of pleasure, next to a young and enthusiastic team for CASTiNG. The first thing you wish for is to be watched, of course.
Florin Babei: I don’t have any expectations, mainly because this is a free web series, and I took it as a creative project from the start. It gave me the possibility to play around with what I have. I guess this was also the advantage: being a different type of project, I relaxed and enjoyed the whole process.
Andrei Gheorghe, director & producer: We worked for more than half a year at this production and it wouldn’t be fair to talk just about my expectations after its launch. It’s obvious I want the series to be popular and start filming for a new season. I don’t know if this will happen but for us, this was a success already. That’s because our main aim was to jump into something bigger than us and get out of the comfort zone, meeting new people, new challenges, while making ourselves more visible in the industry.
- What does it mean for you to have courage as a filmmaker?
Iliana Dumitrache: to be as DIUD (n. – the production company for “CASTiNG”): a bit out of your mind, enough to get your head and soul into producing a format of this kind – independent online series, without having any expertise, during a hot summer, assuming compromising might be part of the plan. And also believing in your team, characters, the script and all the other co-directing buddies.
Rox Andrei: To believe in your idea and to make it happen. So many ideas, some of them bad, some of them good, stay hidden in one forgotten drawer just because someone once said “it has been done before”. Believe in your idea while having in mind it might not go as planned. You’ll learn from every experience on set, just don’t give up. Even if you don’t have any award on your office. Or an office for that matter.
Millo Simulov: Don’t ask me about courage in filmmaking. So far, I have only produced or directed independent projects; whether it was an interactive film, a 360° one or any other kind. For me having courage means having a passion. If you’re passionate enough, the courage will come.
Andrei Ion: There’s a safety zone in the film industry, where every movie turns out exactly as you foresee. Nothing special. You probably forget about it by the time you get home. For me, courage means believing so much in your idea that you actually turn in into reality. And maybe succeed. Courage means doing that one thing you really believe it’s necessary.
Florin Babei: Everything! To be a filmmaker means to have courage – and patience, especially in our local film industry.
Andrei Gheorghe: To do everything as you like it. To take in consideration it may not work, you might hurt one’s ego, you might lose some money or even worse, someone else’s money – and still follow your vision despite all that.
- In which way does the new filmmaking technology improve our viewing experience?
Iliana Dumitrache: The distribution part. A few days ago, my father – who’s 70 y.o and a novice Google user, called me to tell me he read about this online series of mine that will air on the 14th on Youtube (n. this month, December). He was so thrilled with the information he found! The new ways formats are distributed means he doesn’t have to wait for the DVD anymore, nor to get out of the house to one of my short films’ screenings.
Rox Andrei: I watch a lot of online stuff. I bought a TV recently, so I mostly use the online platforms. I think this new technology offers a lot of diversity, on both sides. Not just by story and format, but also in ways of filming; it forces you to create something of quality. There are millions of videos on Youtube, yours has to be different to get clicks and subscribers.
Millo Simulov: I think we should think about the context of these new formats first. We are living a life on fast forward, we get a lot of information very fast. So these new formats will keep evolving. If they are understood well, I think they help us evolve too.
Andrei Ion: I don’t think we’re exploiting the online formats quite enough yet. We still have the idea that series are for television. I think the question is, what do you do when the TV’s programmes get saturated? You stop being a filmmaker?
Florin Babei: New formats are accessible to almost anyone. This improves the experience but also weakness it. I think any cinematic format should be seen in a cinema, as the name suggests. If we talk about web series, I don’t think the viewer’s expectations could be high. It should be watched for entertainment only.
Andrei Gheorghe: I don’t know if it improves our experience. This new media is still new and it changes faster than our ability to measure it. Continuous changes are a state of mind now and we are trying to adapt. What’s good for the industry now, might not be as good after six months. New technologies force filmmakers into finding ideas much faster, so everything becomes by instinct, much more authentic. There’s an audience for anything you want to do and it’s easy to get to them.
- How would you describe the #CASTiNG experience in one word?
Iliana Dumitrache: Challenge
Rox Andrei: Courage
Millo Simulov: Colorful
Andrei Ion: Amazing
Florin Babei: Fun
Andrei Gheorghe: #notplaying
- I want to know the best memory each of you has about the shootings for CASTiNG
Andreea Șovan, aka Carmen: I don’t know if I can choose one. When we realized we are really doing this; up until that moment, everything seemed to be dreams and words only. We used to meet all four girls and imagine film scenes and situations. But it was all just fun, a game maybe, something like a beautiful dream; and there’s a long way from imagination to facts.
In that moment I realized we are actually on set shooting, with all those cool people around us that do anything and work at full capacity to make it happen. It’s mind-blowing to see that. And to see actors you admire playing with you. I’m extremely grateful to this team. They fulfilled our dream.
Romina Sehlanec, aka Miss: For me, it was during one of the last scenes of episode two. We were in tram 41, trying to film with all those people around us and I realized I’m surrounded by some crazy cool people (laughs)
Ana Udroiu, aka Vali: We had a change of location in one of the days. We spent the first half in Bucharest and then moved to Giurgiu, after our lunch break. We split between cars and drove to our next location, when Romina realized she forgot her costume at the production office. So we stopped at a gas station and started making phone calls: we called for someone to open up at the office, while Romina talked to her friend who went there to get it and traveled the whole city to get to us.
Olimpia Melinte, aka Gina: Best of the best was while filming episode three. I had a scene where I had to take a sit on a bar chair in the sexiest way possible. Instead of doing that, I fell with the chair and got back up like nothing happened a few seconds later. I hope they’ll use the take for the bloopers.
- How difficult is for a young actress to express herself in the local film industry?
Andreea Șovan: It depends on one’s skills and luck. Theoretically speaking, age shouldn’t be a problem yet, but I think it takes a bit more than having the age, the talent and the image. I guess some luck. We surely had some luck meeting each other.
Romina Sehlanec: It’s much easier to deal with difficulties than to fall a thousand times and try to get up. We have a luxurious career, like one of my professors used to say, but no beautiful thing is easy.
Ana Udroiu: I think expressing ourselves it’s difficult for anyone from our generation. The freedom of choice we have today comes with a price. Of course, it’s wonderful to have it but it also gets harder to choose what you want and know where you’re headed when you have so many options at your hand. At the age our parents were starting a family and had already a stable job, most of us are still searching.
Olimpia Melinte: It is as difficult as in any other career. You got to be pragmatic enough to realize if you are capable of practicing the career you chose, or not. Then you have to work towards fulfilling your dream. Anything is possible! The simple fact I am writing these words in an interview makes me believe so.
- What do you want from your career? Do you think acting we’ll ever get you bored?
Andreea Șovan: Before wishing for anything from my career, I must have one and I don’t think I have one yet. I’m building it, testing, learning. I don’t think I could ever get bored, it’s not that kind of career. I think you can get bored of the obstacles you have to pass in order to get roles. That’s the tricky part.
Romina Sehlanec: I wish to do my job with love and no stress involved. Without running for fame and gratitude. It’s such a complex career that are no chances I might ever get bored. It’s like saying life bores me.
Ana Udroiu: I wish to travel a lot with my career, for both film festivals and theatre plays. I want to meet as many professionals as possible and learn from them, so one day I can pass those learnings too. And I don’t think you can get bored, as an actor you have so many things to discover. Besides that, it’s the kind of career that works as a mirror of society – a good example for that could be the new modernistic trends in theatre, that reflects our tendency to rely more on technology than before.
Olimpia Melinte: To play. And I for sure never get bored of it. How could happiness bore you? It’s impossible.
- How would you describe the #CASTiNG experience in one word?
Andreea Șovan: “Life-changing-experience”
Romina Sehlanec: Power
Ana Udroiu: Empowering
Olimpia Melinte: Magical
PS: I really want to mention we managed to get all ten for this interview and in less than a week to have it ready. These guys were really cool. And the show will be ten times cooler. Launching on the 14th of December on the official CASTiNG’s Youtube channel.
Interview & English translation by Laura Mușat