I adore my actors and my producers.Mitja Okorn
At the end of November a Hollywood feature film directed by Slovene film director Mitja Okorn premiered on Amazon Prime. This film came out right in the time of isolation of a special kind, even solitude, when we spend time at home, watching films. This is a film that brings people together, it is a positive story despite the fact it is a story about fragility. And – hope is its red thread.
After having signed a collaboration agreement with the U.S. Talent Agency Gersh, the first script to come on Mitja’s table was Life in a Year. When reading it for the first time, he cried. He didn’t interfere with the script, as its director, he wanted to upgrade it above all. In the following two years of sawing the script together with its authors Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews they worked on developing characters and motives for their actions.
Isabelle. A spontaneous, whirlwind teenager. From the poor part of town. Fiery, headstrong.
Daryn. A future Harvard student from a wealthy family.
Love. But she has cancer. She has only one more year to live. In this year Daryn will help her to live all the life, all its key milestones. »I don’t believe in happy endings.« »Believe in me.« As – »The only way to learn about life is by living.«
While shooting a movie both actors shaved their heads, did their best for the film.
Jaden Smith. »As if he was made of rubber, you can do with him whatever you like« – this is how the director of the film describes him. Knowledgable, well behaved, nice, not playing a big star in any way. He was in the project from its beginning.
Cara Delevingne. Young British model, actress and singer. Easy going, zany, direct. Mitja Okorn did not know her yet, he did not know who she was. She won him with her funny clips on Youtube. “She plays guitar, drums, she beatboxes.” He sensed her wild side and felt her energy as pure, honest, crazy, special, funny. “She hadn’t have a chance before, a chance to prove herself as an actor, her potential had never been harnessed.”
She was crying while reading the script, while they were shooting the film, when she first watched it. She sees this film as a »charming story about growing up, which is romantic and heart breaking at the same time.« Yes, this film is – a romantic comedy.
And Mitja Okorn is a director who »has made it.«
He likes working with children, he likes working with natural actors, with people from the street. He likes »feel good« films, films that are made for people. He cries a tear, yes, he likes crying while watching a movie. »This is a good moment of catharsis.« As a director he always gives priority to the emotion, logic comes after. He sees a fim as – a dialoge with the public. And there are only two genres: a good and a bad film. And he thinks – romantic comedy is the hardest genre in the world. There are rules how to make it, and the film must be made in accordance with them and at the same time the director must find a way to be original and fresh. Comedy itself is a hard genre, it is even harders, when the romantics joins, danger of bringing pathos. Mitja Okorn names his films: dramedies. Melodrama with elements of comedy. Dramedy. The public relaxes, laughes, and than the emotions hit. Mixture of laughter and tears.
Mitja Okorn made his first movie – a low-budget feature film titled Here and there in 2005, in Slovenia. This film opened the door to shooting ads and video spots for the best European music labels. »A video spot is a good course for making a film.« He built his film career in Poland.
Making films in Hollywood was his ambition.
»I was visiting festivals and ceaselessly promoting myself. In Slovenia, self-promotion is understood as something bad.” He adores his actors and his producers; Will Smith, Jada Pinkett and James Lassiter were the executive producers of Life in a Year.
»In Hollywood film directors are respected. There are rules which should be respected. The first eight months after the film has been shot, the producer is not alowed to even enter the studio where the film is being edited.« He only watches the moovie for the first time after the test projection at which at least 100 people in public have expressed their opinion. If the assessment is low, the producer is alowed to make changes.
Mitja Okorn emphasises that the film language is the same everywhere and thus it is much easier to work internationally nowadays. The art is universal and quality films will always find their public, at home and abroad. He is glad, he did not make it in Slovenia, did not find the money to make his films. Glad, that he made it – in Hollywood.