Initial instinct paid off
by Sakis Kontos
- Pavel Strnad had a good feeling before embarking on the project with Bohdan Slama, simply because he has seen his previous work
Pavel Strnad, from Negativ Film Productions had a good feeling before embarking on the project with Bohdan Slama, simply because he has seen his previous work. His "nose" did not let him down as Something like Happiness [+see also:
interview: Bohdan Slama
interview: Pavel Strnad
film profile] has done extremely well in the festival circuit and at the box office while it is certain to close sales deals outside Czech Republic.
Cineuropa :How did your co-operation with Bohdan Slama come about?
Pavel Strnad : I know Bohdan since our FAMU [Czech Film School Academy] days. He told me about the project during the Karlovy Vary Film Festival two years before we started the actual filming of the project [in 2003]. But it took a while before we put together the particulars of the production and budget. I must say that when [in 2001] I saw Bohdan’s Wild Bees (Divoke vcely) I was sure that it would do well abroad. Then it won in Rotterdam and San Francisco so I said yes to his invitation to help him with securing a foreign co-producer for Something Like Happiness (Stesti). After Viktor Schwarcz left the project I also took over as the main producer.
What are the criteria with which you choose the directors that you work with?
I have the feeling that the directors choose us rather than the other way round. We work closely with people that we identify with or, simply, because we seem to like them. Of course the decisive factor for a project remains the script.
Has it ever happened that you had the script and you couldn’t find a director?
It happened but only once in the film Faithless Games (Neverne hry), which in the end was directed by Michaela Pavlatova. But in the beginning she rejected it as numerous others did. We’d been looking for a director for a long time and then we decided to go back to Pavlatova whom we in the end persuaded to take the job. There is here a strong Czech tradition of directors also writing the script or writers insisting also being the directors. It’s not exactly the ideal situation but, for now, I can’t see it going away.
How much influence would you say that you apply on the whole project especially on what has to do with the casting or the creative team?
It is actually something that is answered by the fact that we work only with people whom we believe or that we really like. In this case all decisions are made easier and our only concerns remain the approval of important decisions like for example casting. I personally consider script-development and post-production as most important phases in a project. It is when I exert most of my influence, if any, on the filmmakers.
Your company Negativ becomes ten year old this year. Would you say so far so good?
I can hardly believe that I am already that long in the industry. We already have ten feature films in our filmography and a few important I dare say documentary films. We can easily call ourselves ‘veterans’ then. On top of that I am proud that our last two films are made as international co-productions and we are in continuous talks with foreign production houses for more projects. I hope that our prosperity will last long. In the meantime I can say that the immediate future is a film with director Sasa Gedeon but in our plans are also two more films with Bohdan Slama and Marek Najbrt.