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About this film

A normal day. A man follows his daily routine like everyone else around him. His dog always at his side, the man enjoys quiet time on a sofa in the garden, or plays the drums. We follow him, watch him, or look out of a window onto the street in front of the house. Time flows like the water of a river progresses steadily forwards. But time, just like a river, does not progress continuously at the same speed, always in the same direction. There are obstacles, there are different currents, and quietness is not always what it looks like at first. This is what Filip Kojic represents in his short film HUH, and the director leaves you wondering about our perception of what time is and how it progresses.

Nadin Mai (tao films)

Interview with the Director
Filip, I’d like to start by asking you how you made your way into filmmaking. Is it something you had always wanted to do? Or is it the result of a rather spontaneous thought?

I wasn’t particularly preoccupied with art or film during my childhood and teenage years. The main area of interest for me was sports and games. I started writing at the start of my Senior year of high school upon taking a particularly inspiring English AP class. Nonetheless, I entered university with the intention to study Psychology and then later Business so filmmaking wasn’t even remotely on my radar. In any case, I continued to write fiction during college while largely ignoring my studies, and finished a number of short stories and made significant progress on a novel that is still incomplete.

At age 21, I got a new roommate – Jared – who was fiercely devoted to films and it was largely through his passion that I gained my first insight into film as a potential avenue for me to explore. He introduced me to some of the important American contemporary titles of the time and revealed the secondary and tertiary layers that existed in great films, which my consciousness just wasn’t aware of at the time. So I started watching films more intently, gaining deeper understanding and consequently greater interest.

Shortly after graduation, I decided to start writing a screenplay for what turned out to be my first film, a feature titled “GAD FLY”. At this same time, my super talented younger brother – Andrej – began his undergraduate Cinematography program at Columbia College. When he moved in with Jared and I shortly thereafter, we naturally all decided to work together. We ended up making an ultra low budget, student feature film together which was a magical, memorable learning experience that catalysed my interest in the field. This little project brought so many people together, including both my mother and my future wife, and produced a massive collective catharsis that I found to be intoxicating. I ended up co-directing this film with our friend Shane Lincoln and afterwards began to think for the first time about devoting myself to the movies.

About a year later, I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s THERE WILL BE BLOOD for the second time and had a revelatory experience which cemented my convictions and launched me down the path I find myself now.

Your film is, at first sight, nothing extraordinary. You show the ordinariness of a man and his dog, albeit with a twist. Where does this interest in the ordinary, the usual, the daily life come from and why do you put it on a screen for us?

At this point, I draw mostly from my own life and the lives of those around me in creating the work that I do. I find this process personally satisfying and effective in the sense that it produces honest, immediate and animate cinema. I’m also motivated to present stories about the ordinary in the style that I do so as to counter the oppressive, ubiquitous presence of our fast food, click bait, sensationalist western zeitgeist. I think that this modern phenomenon is a great danger to our minds and our inner lives so I’m trying to produce content that can at least offer some alternative or temporary respite from the pandemonium.

I’m very interested in the slow, in the small, in the little details that make all of our lives meaningful. Now I’m working diligently in my practice to discover a genuine cinematic language that can be reflective of those values and also effective in building out interesting, contemplative cinematic environments where the audience can go to be present, to be challenged, to be moved, to reflect, to discover etc.

The normal day you show is suddenly disrupted, but you leave the viewer in the dark about the actual end of the film. I remember that I emailed you about it and asked: What happened? There is a violent disruption in this smooth progression of narrative. Why did you decide to confront the viewer with that disruption?

Life is normal until it’s not. We are usually surprised when these disruptions happen and are left grasping for ways to make sense of it all. Usually there are no easy answers so we have to reflect, talk, learn, grow. For me, this is one of the primary functions of cinema – to spark a thought process or conversation.

I reckon that we cannot speak about HUH without mentioning the best character: the dog. I believe that filming with animals can potentially be just as daunting as filming with kids. How did the filming go with him?

The dog’s name is Tito and my wife and I have had him since he was a baby. I know him very well, his personality, his nature, his tendencies and his communication style. As a director, I try to make a plan which will utilise his strengths and put him in a position to succeed as a performer and shine in front of camera. I take this approach with all of the talent I work with.

I can imagine HUH being a stepping stone to a larger project.

HUH is the first entry in a short film collection I’m working on while living in Pilsen, here in Chicago. They will all likely share the same narrative universe and serve as an ongoing cinematic workshop and documents in our personal history here.

Are you currently working on a new film, and what can we expect from you this year?

I am currently editing the second entry in the aforementioned short film collection. The story focuses on other people close to Antonio – the central character from HUH.

Many thanks for this interview.