Zdeněk Tyc



We Should All Be New York Bus Drivers
interview with Zdenek Tyc on his new film “Brats”

What did you think of after the first reading of the script?
It was a challenge. After the reading I felt I wasn’t the right person to do it. But that very night the Sirs  family won me over and I didn’t want to leave anymore. By the way, that hasn’t changed. Together with Tereza Bouckova and co-author Jiri Soukup we went on working, one version followed another.

Did you see, then, the possible difficulty of working on a very personal topic?
No. That was where the author and I often parted. It was difficult for both, maybe more so for Tereza.  I tried to explain to her that we were not shooting an autobiography of her family. But the fact that the shooting was happening in the village she lives in gave her totally opposite impression.

Why not anywhere else?
Vraz u Berouna is irreplaceable! Someone mighty, probably to “keep the plan’, once brutally separated the local cemetery from the village by building a highway. The bridge connecting the lonely houses with the rest of the village is a crucial feature of the film. I tried to find some other bridge but this is the only original of its kind in the country. In the literary script, its part wasn’t that significant at all. On my visits and walks around Vraz I fell in love with it and made it my corner stone.

The bridge in the film – does it connect or separate?
The highway separates, and the bridge might bring hope.

Is there any other important visual motive?
A church in the village square. To be exact: the veins and shadows of the surrounding trees. One early evening, it was sunny and I noticed the lines, the white walls became the screen and the image of a camera pausing at two clocks, two dials, turned into one of the crucial sequences. That “double time” suggested the difference between the locals and Sirs’ family.

The film conflict had some authentic base, though. Was it neccessary to hide the fact that Tereza Bouckova is the author of the script?
Totally. Honestly – we lied! To the Mayor, to all. Then, Tereza admitted in a newspaper interview how things really were. But we were forgiven, maybe thanks to the fact that we behaved well. We’re going to do a special screening for the locals.

The conflict starts up a major clash, underneath which there is fear of being different. Where do you think this threat comes from?
It’s not easy to live with someone who’s “different”. But nothing is for free. To get over the first insecurity, even aversion, does make sense though. The very experience is worth it. We have to practice being multicultural. Once in New York, I had an interesting experience. There was a group of Peruvian women on a public bus. Young, teenage mothers with a herd of kids looked as if they’ve just stepped out of a documentary on Third World. The bus was moving, they kept falling, laughing, fooling around, living their life. The bus driver was nervous, kept looking at them but never said a word. More: his face went through a metamorphosis, from angry and anxious to sunny and warm. We should all be New York drivers sometimes.

It is known that the celebration of All Souls helped you a lot. What’s the story?
Yeah, All Souls were great! Shooting was divided into two stages. Both were originally planned for a different date. The autumn sequence was supposed to start on All Souls day. The idea of blocking the access to the cemetery, where one of the first scenes takes place, was unacceptable. So we started a week earlier and magically, it helped us a lot. The rainy weather missed us. The same thing happened in winter; snow melted on the last day of shooting.

The cast?
I’ve admired Petra Spalkova for years. And she didn’t ruin that for me at all, in her first big film part.      I think she's great, and Ivan Trojan is so steady and secure.



How about the children?
I’ve never worked with children, and so I knew it would be twice as hard. It was ten times worse! You can't make a film with kids! The script set up quite an early age [5, 8 and 11]. The oldest son is supposed to be half Romani, the second oldest entirely and the youngest has a lisp! On top of it all there were scenes with dogs! I cancelled those. I’m not a loony. It took many hard choices to find the ideal solution.

Will you share at least one adrenaline situation?
One day we worked from dawn to dusk; for nothing. Fourty three times and not one meter! As our coordinator Barbora Fabianova said, we rolled out lots of film and patience. The next day we still did it eight more times!

From production point of view, which scene was the hardest?
The sequence of happy dinner. The camera, as if in the middle of a big circle, in one long shot observes the family. All the actions had to be coordinated. It was the first time for the whole family to shoot together in one spot. And third thing – the work with props had to be perfect.

There are five unusually long shots of the family members. How did you come up with that?
The “Brats” script was very wordy to start with. Trying to adapt it for film, we came down to 60% of the text, and that was the furthest we could’ve gone. The dialogues belong there. So these shots are kind of balancing the wordiness. Everyone was afraid of it – the author, actors, not mentioning the editor. Their time terror and unbearability brings up two emotions. First is the course of the story and perception of the movie in the cinema. The second, I hope, will be taken out and stay in the audience’s minds. The sensitive ones [and that’s everyone –if you make them] will always remember the postcard of our family. Ten eyes.

How active is the role of the audience watching the film?
Very much. For years I’ve had the experience that percieving any art form requires big activity. The audience can change alter every experience – enlarge it, add colours... but that’s not for free. To sit and wait for what “will be done with me” doesn’t take us anywhere.

Is there anything to watch for in “Brats”?
The role of the family is quite crucial for understanding “Brats”. I tried to be real and persuading, even if it took a long time. By that I mean the basic rules of exposition which tell us to be as fast as we can. it was impossible to map the family out in first few minutes of the movie. Our family gets together for the first time some 25 minutes through the film, but it’s right that way. Each of them is different and the audience must have time to absorb them gradually. We tried to affect the audience by this constant real strength of people and situations.

What style of narration do you tend to use?
I don’t dislike a story but it’s not primary. Experience stands higher. As an audience, I am the happiest when the cards are smartly dealt and something impossible to describe and grasp starts happening. Of course, the types of actors and their skills are natural assumption. Somewhere there begins the third and fourth dimension of a film. Once here, I never want it to end.

How do you see Brats in the context of the previous films?
I’d rather not judge that now, it’s up the others. But I feel that I’m interested in this kind of exposition, the simplicity and possible truth, and that interest isn’t over yet. Ordinary life, viewed remarkably, becomes extraordinary.