The pandemic stopped everything, including film production. Although things are now slowly returning to normal, film director Nemanja Ćeranić made the first film after the start of the pandemic in Serbia. Filming began on March 15, 2020, continued two months later, and now Loan Shark has come to Karlovac! Nemanja also came to the Four River Film Festival as a member of the professional Jury, so he answered our questions about judging, film and shooting during the pandemic!
You are a member of the professional Jury in Karlovac, what is that experience like?
It is interesting, especially because these are young authors. I think that festivals like this are important because they give young filmmakers a chance to show their films and encourage them to keep working, so that one day they might be a part of bigger projects.
What would you say to young people who make short films?
The most important thing is to have a good idea and tell the story accurately.
The filming of Loan Shark began on March 15, 2020. How did you deal with the situation you found yourself in?
It was not easy, we finished the first day of filming and then a state of emergency occurred in Serbia, so we had to wait two months to continue working. The conditions were tough, we made the film independently, but our team was quite brave and we managed to make the film in just fourteen days.
How did you spend your time during the lockdown?
I mostly played video games, I went back to my adolescence. That suited me pretty well back then, but I wouldn’t want that kind of situation to happen again.
What did the isolation do for Loan Shark, i.e. did you change anything about the project during those two months?
I didn’t think too much about Loan Shark, I worked on other projects and screenplays, but I communicated with other people the whole time and discussed new ideas.
The producer of the film is Aljoša Ćeranić, your brother. How did that collaboration happen?
When I finished university, my brother was still playing professional basketball, and after that he went into the business world, he opened a cafe in Novi Sad, but since he has such an interesting energy, I suggested that he start producing. He agreed and has been in production for two years now.
The film was shot without the support of Film Center Serbia. Was that a conscious decision?
Yes, we wanted to make the film in our city, we took part in a competition for funds in Inđija, and when we got the money, we knew that we could manage to make an independent film.
Loan Shark belongs to a certain genre, how did you move in that direction?
We didn’t start from the genre, we started from the desire to make a film about debt, not only in financial terms, but also about debt to people close to you and debt to oneself. As we were writing the script we realized what genre we were getting into. What is interesting is that it is a local film, we actually know all the characters, we know what they are like in that environment. Since I grew up in Inđija, we made the screenplay pretty quickly, because other people served as inspiration for the characters.
The film stars both professional and non-professional actors, how did you choose the cast?
I knew from the beginning that the cast would be a mix of professional and non-professional actors; it was a huge undertaking because it’s hard to make that blend. I absolutely adapted the professional actors to non-professionals, I knew which actors could do the job in a way that did not dominate the others, but assist them and get them on the same level.
What were the reactions of the Serbian audience to the film?
The biggest pressure for me was how the Inđija audience would react to Loan Shark. It is the first local film from there and, according to the reactions so far, I think people really like it. The audience in Inđija wanted to find themselves on the screen while they were watching the film, to see if we might have accidentally caught them on camera while we were filming.