Interview with the film director Daniel Kušan

picture-092-la“Love and death“ by Ivan Kušan, which has been a favorite children’s novel for many years, was turned into a film by Kušan’s son Daniel. It is part of the interview  made  by students from school Sveti Petar Orehovec in 2011., after the first Kušan’s film “Koko and the Ghosts”

picture-071-laWas it your idea to shoot a cycle of five films about the adventures of Koko?

Ankica Jurić Tilić from the production company “Kinorama” came up with the idea to shoot a cycle of five films. A similar idea came to my my mind when I started my studies in film directing, and my dad used to ask me jokingly about making a film about Koko. I didn’t want to do it back then, because I thought it was a big responsibility. This book was very popular, and I was afraid what would happen if I screwed up. First I wanted to become a more experienced director. Years went by when Ankica came up with this idea, so I figured it was time for the book about Koko to be made into a film.

Was it difficult to make a film with young actors without acting experience?

No, because we were searching for actors for a long time. We didn’t have a regular audition, like puttting an ad so anyone who wanted could have come, but we ourselves looked for the right actors. My assistant went on a search for actors at various drama groups at schools, and then we invited some of the students to come to audition and make some test shootings.

Apparently a lot more material is always shot than it’s shown in the film. How many material did you record for this film, which lasts 90 minutes?

We recorded 4 to 5 times more material. Not because we recorded 5 times more scenes but because we repeated some scenes until we got what we want. Still, that’s not so much. Americans have much more money, they film for a much longer time, and they record up to 20 times more material.

picture-067-laWhen have you decided to study film directing and what did your father, who is a writer, think about it?

My dad never said, “You’re going to be a writer like me”, but I often changed  my mind about my future profession. First, I wanted to be an archaeologist. Then I wanted to study psychology, but somewhere at the age of 16 I started going to the cinema very often and compare movies. If I liked something, I wanted to know how it’s made. I started studying it, and then I realized that I want to be a director.

What is the role of a director, and what is the role of a producer?

A director is the artistic on the set. He doesn’t tell people what to do or give orders, but makes sure that everything goes in the right direction, so that the hypothetical story is told in the best possible way. He has to know everything about all the other jobs on the film. The producer is in charge of getting the money for the film. He looks for sponsors and ivestors, and more importantly, he decides how the money will be spent on all the elements of the film.This is terribly important, because you can have a lot of money, but if you spend it wrong, it won’t turn out well in the end.

Is it difficult for young directors to find a job in Croatia?

Yes, every director would like to make a film, but there is no funding, so there is quite a lot of competition.

Famous directors from all around the world are usually rich. Can a director in Croatia earn well?

If you do some jobs like advertising, then you can earn a little more. Directing documentaries is very poorly paid. You can’t earn a lot money on a film. You usually get a fee that is not too bad. However, you have to be aware that a director works on a film for 3 to 4 years, and when you do the maths, it is actually a below-average pay. Therefore, we have to make commercials, series and soap operas. These pay the bills, not the films.

What was it like to be the son of a famous writer?

The only time I was the cool kid was when my Dad came to the school as a guest writer, and when we had to read his books as part of school curriculum. However, I didn’t see him as a famous writer, but as my dad. I read his books and enjoyed them like everyone else who likes to read.

picture-073-laFavourite book written by your father?

Love or Death because Dad wrote all other books before I was born, and he was writing this one just when I was at the right age to read it. After he had written a chapter, he read it to me. I was the first to hear it and I was very interested ito hear what happens in the next chapter. / Katarina Pofuk, Ana-Marija Nemčić, Lucija Hrg; translated by Saša Vidaković/



Frame – a snapshot from clicking Start to clicking Stop, that is, the uninterrupted operation of the camera.

Scene – a film event in one space and time which may coincide with the frame, but may also consist of multiple frames

Script – a plan cinematographic work; It is the base for the film project (it includes the description and the time of action, dialogue or monologue, number of scenes, description and behavior of characters)


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