Matija Benić and Filip Rutić met in a literary group in high school, and now they are both students at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Zagreb. Their collaboration has been going on successfully for years, and they came to the banks of Mrežnica with their new feature film Trust, which premiered at the Pula Film Festival. The film is local, it deals with problems that both Filip and Matija are familiar with, so we talked to them about the topic of the film, the process of working on the film and much more!
What does your process of writing together look like?
MATIJA: We are always in the same room, but Filip is the one who actually writes everything down. We always have a plan for what we are going to write, and every scene that we come up with is a product of agreement and discussion.
FILIP: Sometimes I stop Matija, write something myself, read it aloud to him and then he comments on it and suggests what to change. I think that’s a pretty healthy process of writing together.
MATIJA: It is very important for us to read everything out loud, we always read what we write as the characters; it makes the text more fluid.
How do you solve creative differences?
FILIP: We have similar poetics, we love the same things and we have the same role models, so there are not many differences. When there are some, we always solve them through conversation, and if that doesn’t work, then we start to subtly insult each other, and our last option is to insult other people (laughs).
MATIJA: (laughs) That’s right, we let it all out and it’s easier for us to reach an agreement.
The film Trust was shot without a budget. Would you return to the same topic again sometime, perhaps with a budget?
FILIP: Actually, I’m lying. I might return to this topic, but in a journalistic or prose form; I would research the Varaždin political administration.
Why is the problem of garbage one of the topics of the film?
MATIJA: The film wasn’t supposed to be about garbage, we added it in order to localize the film as much as possible. It’s a huge problem in the city we live in, so it naturally occurred to us to put that into the script as well.
FILIP: Since the plot of the film is set in the future, that also gave us freedom to talk more explicitly about this topic. Of course, that problem would have been explained even better if we had a budget, this way the film crew scattered a pile of garbage on the street corner for the purpose of filming, and cleaned it all up at the end of the day.
An important element of the film is the mysterious Agency, whose employee is the main character, and which serves people who need someone to listen to them. Do you see the need for the Agency in real life?
FILIP: I don’t think the point is what society needs, because society doesn’t need many things, but the question is does the Agency need society? The Agency uses society and its secrets for many things, uses the vulnerability of other people for its own benefit.
MATIJA: I agree with Filip, but I would add that the Agency already exists in some form; people tell their secrets to psychologists, priests, friends.
Is Trust a genre film?
MATIJA: We actually made a combination of genre and slice-of-life film.
FILIP: Yes, and our new project is also a similar combination, which is a road film and a slice-of-life film, only we emphasized the genre elements in it even more.
You had the premiere of the film at the Pula Film Festival. Did that come unexpectedly?
MATIJA: When we finished our last feature film, Filip and I watched it, sat down in a cafe and decided we wanted to make another one. At that point, we had no concrete plan for the future, we just knew we wanted to film more.
FILIP: We knew we wanted to make a better and more serious film, Pula was not a part of the plan, but we wanted this film to really be shown and for the audience to have a chance to see it. I think it’s natural growth; we want to make more serious films and we want audiences to see them.
Which film would you single out as an inspiration for Trust?
MATIJA: Alps by Yorgos Lanthimos.
FILIP: Memories of Murder by Bong Joon Ho.