TOWARDS MACABRE - SCARY, BUT FUNNY - AN INTERVIEW WITH DARIA WOSZEK
Daria Woszek graduated from theatrology to discover that the language which she wants to use is... cinema. She is just presenting "The Dog Catcher," her first short film after graduation. The idea - the story of a man who earns his living catching dogs in Krakow and holding them to ransom - an award - interested, among others, Janusz Chabior, Marian Dziędziel, Grażyna Szapołowska, Agnieszka Wosińska and Tomasz Schimscheiner.
Dagmara Romanowska: You studied theatrology... How comes you make films?
Daria Woszek: In part, it happened by chance. I was preparing a performance with my friends and I was looking for a way to record it. I realised that the camera gives me a far greater control over form and material, and I started to think about film directing. I was admitted to the film school in Katowice. In the first year of my studies, I was the assistant director of Marcin Wrona when he was working on the film "The Christening." Later on, we worked together on the TV series "Ratownicy" and on one of his theatre performances. He was always open to young people and he became my mentor. Anyway, he supported me when I was making "The Dog Catcher."
What is the most important thing which you learnt from him?
Marcin Wrona was one of the most talented directors in Poland - he knew exactly where the camera should stand and why. He always came to the set brilliantly prepared. These two things are the foundation of director's work.
How did you come up with the idea for "The Dog Catcher"? A protagonist who earns his living in a similar way, that is, by catching dogs, appears in "Seven psychopaths" by Martin McDonagh. Was it some kind of inspiration?
I started working on "The Dogcatcher" earlier - over four years ago. A friend of mine, who was a lecturer of film studies, gave me a novella by Jagoda Jaworska - the text which won a special mention in the competition organised by the Munk Studio, but nothing happened to it later. He thought that it might be of interest to me. He was not wrong. It turned out that this is my type of protagonist and story - I am attracted to genre cinema, I like macabre, when it is both scary and funny. I met Jagoda and we started to work together. Later on, Janusz Chabior became interested in the script, and he also contributed a lot to his protagonist.
It was quite a risky protagonist - antipathetic one. A dog catcher!
There are plenty of antipathetic protagonists in the cinema. The character does not have to be positive, what matters is that we want to follow him and I think that this is what happens in the case of the dog catcher. However, he has something in himself that makes us wish him success.
And there is a dog - even three dogs. I do not want to reveal too much of the film's plot, but this is not a story about Lassie. There are even rather drastic features. However, you were not afraid of this subject matter.
No, though everyone tried to dissuade me from this idea. They said that it would not work, they even told me to change the script. However, I insisted. I was convinced that it would work, though I admit that it is a strong story - however, it resembles rather a parable or a metaphor. Just as I have said - I like it best when it is both scary and funny. If I removed the layer of humour present in this film, it would probably be unbearable.
Can a dog's love transform a bad man?
Perhaps even the main character cannot answer this question. There is no Hollywood-like transformation of evil into good, because it is not a Disney character. However, I think that the dog catcher gives himself a chance - and this is more important.
How did you manage to direct the dogs? Children and animals are supposed to be the film-maker's nightmare.
I had a great dog trainer - Beata Krzemińska, who worked, among others, on "Body," "The Here After" and TV series "Komisarz Alex." Anyway, the dogs from this series play in "The Dog Catcher." And they behaved great. In spite of the great apprehension of the production, all this went extremely smoothly. I never had to do more than three takes.
"The Dogcatcher" is a film refined on every level - visually, musically and sonically.
For me, image is an immensely important part of the film - I do not like to give information only in the dialogues. It is the frame, its colour and setup that has to tell the story. I have already worked with the DOP Michał Sosna before and we understand each other perfectly. Sound is 1/3 of the reception of this story - it was very important to me to have a good sound design - Aeroplan did it perfectly. I worked with a really wonderful team, in which everyone wanted to contribute to this world. We decided to go all the way and the effect perhaps even exceeded my expectations. I am glad, because it proves that everything is possible. You do not have to be dependent on the forms and cut the film to suit them. You can do your own project.
What are your plans?
First, the short film: "Bonjour, je suis Antek," a project for which I got the European Short Pitch award. I am working on it together with the producer of "The Dog Catcher," Marta Łachacz. Then, I will start preparing for my feature film début - a black comedy, which is also set in Krakow.