Can you tell us about your body of work?
Zoran Dragelj: As an independent filmmaker/auteur for over 20 years I’ve been fortunate to work on both film and video productions of various sizes and lengths (from feature films to episodic content to short films and videos). Also, I worked on many different genres, which include everything from comedy to drama, documentary to music videos and commercials.
With a mélange of talent and skills: visual artist, music video director, and film director, I remain dedicated to the world of independent motion pictures and media arts.
In the media arts field, I’m know for my experimental or video art films and video which is unique in its interdisciplinary nature; for the use of recording and editing devices and computer code to create a composition of moving pictures and sound. It is a new cultural language – the convergence between “old-school” analog recording techniques and new digital media, in my practice used to investigate subjects inspired by modern life, as evident in my recent works like in Information Overload.
Also, I am pondering how our culture of digital and social sharing has narrowed the gap between “creators” and “patrons.” With widely available creation tools like Final Cut Pro X, Photoshop, and “democratic” means for distribution online via YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, we’re now simultaneously makers and consumers of a never-before seen amount of content.
My artistic films and videos are archived with Europeana, the European Union’s virtual library for the preservations of cultural heritage and as well with GAMA (Gateway to Archives of Media Art) network and TransMediale (Berlin) is archiving my films and videos for their permanent collection.
What are your current projects?
Zoran Dragelj: Just last week I got back from Costa Rica where I was filming a documentary for almost two weeks. It was an amazing experience filming at various locations which included high elevation coffee plantations, small quaint towns and the breathtaking jungle. In late February, I directed and executive produced “Friends Like These”, a feature length drama/comedy filmed on location on Bowen Island and Vancouver, Canada co-written by Josh Romyn and David L. Quinn and starring Jill Zavazal, Kiran Madahar and Matreya Scarrwener. The feature was lensed by talented Bryn McCashin and is currently in post production stage led by an award-winning editor Fred Thorsen. In few weeks we’ll have our rough cut ready.
Besides those two full-length projects, I am pre-planning a music video shoot for Kives (aka Michael D. McIvor) in mid-June and working on a homage video for Aleksandar F. Stasenko art show in Europe later in September. As well I have two projects (“Karma”, a web series and a feature film, “Beyond the Veil”) that I am producing for my writer / director collaborator friend of many years, Victoria Larimore based in Los Angeles. Not to forget my good friend Rick Sam’s comedy pilot episode called “3 is a Crowd”.
In 2017, I associate produced an independent Canadian feature film, “Dark Harvest” starring Cheech Marin along with James Hutson (who was the writer/director/producer/talent), Tygh Runyan, AC Peterson, and Hugh Dillon. “Dark Harvest” screened at 7 major international film festival garnering 11 top festival awards. Soon after, “Dark Harvest” secured both US and Canadian distribution. Over the years I worked on several award-winning European co-productions as well.
Also, I’m a long-time member and a New Media Director at International Press Academy and Satellite Awards in Los Angeles. I also served a two-term at Emily Carr University of Art and Design as an Alumni Senator. For the last 3 years, I taught film theory and directing at Canadian Film and Television Institute and I’m as a director at Intersections Media Opportunities for Youth at Society in Vancouver.
Can you describe your indie filmmaking process?
Zoran Dragelj: Being an indie filmmaker, I’ve been tuning my filmmaking process by trying to be well organized for every new production that I work on. This is mostly due to necessity to have everything ready with limited resources available. Also, my process heavily relies on collaboration and deals you can secure in order to make that project happen.
Creatively and artistically through a variety of filmic techniques and unique treatments and approaches to subject matter, I have tried to formulate a delicate balance between appearances of things versus the hidden emotional reality in everyday life.
Can you share with us an indie filmmaking -related “Challenge and Solution”?
Zoran Dragelj: As an indie filmmaker I’m constantly finding “challenge and solution” as an integral part of any production I take part in. You are basically on your feet most of the time, MacGyver style looking to resolve any sort of issue that may arise. No matter if it is in the studio or on location you always gotta be prepared to some extent. As you can’t foresee what may go awry, so you gotta be ready for pretty much everything. At times there are no set rules how you can resolve a challenge. The challenge to an indie filmmaking can be anything from funding, securing locations and talent to postproduction and distribution. During my recent feature film production, we had a challenge of securing a location on Bowen Island. Through some carefully searching and talking with few colleagues we were able to secure an amazing location that perfectly fitted our aesthetics needs. Also, we were offered to book it through an online location booking site (an owners suggestion since she like the project and was willing to help out) so we saved on location insurance.
If you could share your Top 3 Tips related to indie filmmaking or working with film projects and inspired by trial-and-error and your own discoveries through working on projects what would they be?
Zoran Dragelj: My Top 3 Tips… Hmm… Well, there are several tips that I stick with, but the first tip is that you, as an independent filmmaker, are constantly open to learning new skills. You can learn any bit of information or a skill from another peer or simply from your previous mistakes. Also, being receptive and listening is another great tip and a key at times. All these leads and can be tied to collaboration on many levels.
I’ll give you an example. So, during the filming of “Friends Like These”, a feature I directed, and executive produced, earlier this year and currently in post production, I was able to employ all of those Top 3 Tips on so many different occasions.
We filmed the whole 76-page feature film on Red Scarlet camera on location (on Bowen Island) in 6 days. We scheduled it for 8 to 9 days, but on the second last day of filming we were caught in a snow flurry and had to make up for those remaining scenes on our last day after we returned back to Vancouver Mainland. We shot on an average 13 pages a day during 14-hour days. The key here was willing to listen to our amazing crew and cast, seeing what works for each and every one and what doesn’t and how we can work around it. For sure it was an impressive experience that I will apply to my future independent projects.