Movie: Better Love
Director: David Sexta
Hello David! Welcome to the SIFF!
Hi, thank you for invite me to this interview & it is honor for my crew & me to recieve such a high recognation from SIFF of Best International Short Film for “BETTER LOVE”.
1. Tell us how your journey in the films start?
Once upon a time I worked as a translator for a famous Russian director at the University of Hamburg. I couldn’t even dream of one day receiving 40 nominations & awards worldwide for my first film “BETTER LOVE”. Then as a musician I produced videoclips. Thanks to Covid I studied Digital Film Production to make productive use of this time. Now we are siting here together.
2. What makes you so passionate about films?
If you think of watching the movies, then it is the thrill and refreshing of the emotions that the particular movie appeals to. If you mean directing or producing films, then it is the building of a new family with all the members
with different missions contributing to each other. All have the same goal to create the finished film.
3. Would you like to share why you named your film “BETTER LOVE”?
The war between Russia and Ukraine moved us all and still does. As part of my diploma work, I developed this idea with a peaceful solution and ending of the war. Therefore “BETTER LOVE” … than war.
4. What inspired you to choose a storyline involving the two conflicting countries?
I didn’t have to think up a conflict or dramatic situation; unfortunately, everything was already there. But I did have to create a happy end to it. Besides, in my team every day we are working together with Ukrainians, Russians, Germans, Turks, Armenians and other nationalities. Nobody has problems with each other. Our “employed” politicians do not do what the population really wants. The desire of the normal people inspires the audience more as we see. Exactly this discrepancy I wanted to bring on the screen.
5. How did you approach the creative process while conceptualising and developing the film?
First I wrote and developed the script, then I did casting. Then I discussed and rehearsed the roles with the actors. Then went through the scenes with the DP. During the shooting I tried to implement all the ideas that I had planned. Most of them succeeded. During the editing I created a new film with rhythm and dynamics. After that I discussed colorcorection and colorgrading with the colorist and finally did the VFX and SFX with the team. That’s about it… The hard part was to cut down the film again for the Cannes Film Festival. It’s called “Kill your Baby” – I had to sacrifice one of my favorite frequencies against the clock’s tick-tack. In the end this version turned out even better. (Smile)
6. Did you encounter any challenges while trying to convey these profound concepts through a visual medium like film?
Oh, yes! For me, filmmaking is like developing a child until he goes to school where everybody can see him and he can prove himself. During that time at home, all kinds of expected and unexpected things would happen. We had shooting in the hotel room, in the lobby, in the bar, outside in front of the hotel, in the gym, in the heliport, in front of the helicopter and in the helicopter. All of these locations had a special attitude. Apart from the spectators, who were sometimes irritated because of the policemen and the arrested antagonist, there was also a lot of research work for the costumes, props and applications to the authorities as well. In return, I was able to gain a lot of experience for the filming in New York.
7. How do you define creativity, and how does it play a role in the film?
As this russian director for whom I interpreted for three years said, film is like a horse with wings. There’s some truth to that. It’s complex, a lot of craft though, to express creativity. I would argue that in filmmaking, almost every decision is creative. Creativity for me is like perfume, you can smell it but never touch it. It can have different scents, yet always inspire people. Sometimes you don’t notice it in the produced movie, but the flavor is still in the room. To me, the creatives are the people who actually create that “perfume” in the movies. Inspiration what the movie is about.
8. The film explores themes of connection and love in the face of adversity. How did you build the connections between the characters to portray their interpersonal chemistry?
A very good question. “BETTER LOVE” is a very good example in that respect. Here I juggled with time and space a little bit. Alice wants to kill Alex, Alex doesn’t know about it and falls in love with her. Alice learns about Alex’s good sides and falls in love with him and doesn`t want to kill him anymore. Alex gets to know that she is his killer and out of anger wants to kill her himself out of anger. While Alice has to fight against herself and Alex now, to gain time, Alex has no idea that she has called for backup and so on. This goes on until the final scene in the air in helicopter in front of the Liberty. Only in the helicopter does the audience realize that Alice and Alex are together in the seventh cloud after all. I wrote & produced all songs and the soundtrack “White Clouds” for this movie.
9. Can you share any interesting anecdotes or behind-the-scenes moments during the filming that contributed to the film’s development?
It was very funny in the hotel when the policemen in uniform are armed walked the corridor from the elevator down, came a security guy from the hotel and was very excited and asked what happened. After consulting with his boss, he came to me and asked in a whisper with a smile on his face if he could come into the hotel room while we were shooting. He would stand quietly and just watch us shoot. Another situation was when we were in the heliport and the policemen brought Alex with the hood on his head & with handcuffs into building. A French tourist couple were frightened and asked what he did so bad. Only as I explained to them that we were shooting a film did the smile come on.
10. Looking back on the entire process, are there aspects you would have approached differently, given the chance?
Yes, I would want more people and more professionals on set. Here, I did so many jobs on my own because the budget was so low. Everything else I would do over again the same way.
11. What do you hope the lasting impact of this film will be, both for yourself and for those who watch it?
I am happy for my crew and for me that we have received so much recognition from festivals worldwide. I am also pleased that the audience writes to me with their impressions. It is moving that the story is based on current events. Everyone wants the happy end, at least the real end of the war!
12. What do you believe sets “BETTER LOVE” apart from other works that explore similar themes?
The maximum proximity to reality. The longer this war lasts, the more relevant actuality “BETTER LOVE” becomes.
13. Lastly, what future projects or themes are you considering exploring in your upcoming works?
I just finished a new documentary film “Blessed” about a Russian Buddhist who moved to New York and lives in a former property of catholic church. This is an exclusive life story about humanity, diversity & equality, and the merging of nationalities and religions to find identity in the city that never sleeps. My next project is an action feature film “TRUSTLESS”. It’s about weak & strong characters and destiny changing decisions that humans are able to face under extreme pressure. The question hereby will be to find out, if we do really need this extremes to get right decisions.
14. It was nice talking to you, David! Would you like to share how you enjoyed working with the SIFF?
I have already told my friends that our communication and the interview was very pleasant and felt easy going. At every step of the changes I was promptly informed and every question was answered immediately without waiting. Thank you for your time and high recognition!