Hadrian Marcu • Director
“Once you have the right actors, the way you work with them becomes natural”
- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2018: Hadrian Marcu debuts as a feature-film director with A Decent Man, a smart, sensitive and confident work about a regular but troubled Romanian man
After a long and intense career as a short-film director, Hadrian Marcu has released his first feature film, A Decent Man [+see also:
interview: Hadrian Marcu
film profile], in the New Directors section of the San Sebastián Film Festival. The Romanian filmmaker met up with Cineuropa to discuss the details of his precise, bold and challenging work.
Cineuropa: You were at San Sebastián with this project last year, in Glocal in Progress, and now you are back to release it as your first feature. How do you feel about that?
Hadrian Marcu: It’s great! Last year, Glocal in Progress was very good; we feel very welcome here, and the festival and the city were fantastic. Coming back with the finished film to release it here is amazing, a real pleasure. San Sebastián is a place where you can see people enjoying the festival and the movies, so it’s the perfect place to show off your work.
The script of the film is based on a novel. How different is the final result from the original source?
The screenplay is based on a novel called Firsc by Romanian writer Petru Cimpoeșu. What I took away from the novel were two things: the working environment, which I think is very important for the story and the tone of the movie; and the love triangle, which is also a fundamental part of it. For me, the most interesting of these elements was the working environment, how it changes the way the workers live and relate to other people, the night shifts, the loneliness… And for the love triangle, I liked how different and how unbalanced the relationships were. But as for the details, as I kept working on the screenplay, I added more things that were not in the original story.
There are certain elements in the film that bring to mind a number of contemporary directors from Romania and other European countries. Could you tell us about your influences?
First of all, I am a cinephile who likes a certain kind of cinema – let’s call it slow cinema or contemplative cinema – which is not the most commercial or the easiest type of film for the audience, but it’s the one I am most comfortable making. Of course, there has to be an influence from many different directors, and from different kinds of cinema that are being made, but I had no intention of following a style, a movement or whatever. I seek out the way to tell the stories I want to tell, and I am satisfied with the result in this case. I understand that there can potentially be links with other filmmakers, and that I might have things in common with them, but I guess it’s normal. When you watch films and you get to like and admire some directors, that can influence the way you work.
The environment is immensely important in the film in terms of determining the way the characters behave. How did you go about creating it?
In my opinion, it was fundamental for the story to build up a strong and clear context for the characters. My intention was not to make a socially critical film. Of course, there is a social dimension, but for me, the movie is mostly a story about the characters, and their personal and private conflicts. However, within these conflicts, the various different places where things happen are very important. I like to visit the locations before shooting and do some kind of journalistic research in order to be able to put all of that information into the script and into the characters.
In a character-driven film like this, the work with the actors must be intense. How did you deal with this aspect?
Working with each actor is different, but a very important aspect here was the casting. Once you have the right actors, the ones that you feel click with the character, the way you work with them becomes natural. Knowing the characters and what you want to narrate about them makes it easier to get what you are looking for from the cast of actors.
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