Now that the typically winter holidays fuss has faded away, it is time to sit down for a chat about inspiration, transiency, team work and future plans. We are talking to Alexandru Iureş, co-director of “Letters to Santa“, our latest image spot.
Alex, who is your favorite director, the one who inspired you the most?
Alexandru Iureș: I think it’s difficult to choose one director amongst so many names and styles. So I’ll just name three that came to mind spontaneously: Truffaut, Kubrick, Zvyagintsev. This could develop into a long discussion and an even longer list of directors, but for now I’ll stop at Zvyagintsev, because he is a skilled storyteller with beautiful stories to share, his introspections are thoughtful and considerate and the way he looks through the camera is a strong support for the drama. In a nutshell.
I noticed that you avoid using elevators. Why?
I do use them, but as seldom as possible. Heights make me feel uncomfortable, plus being active is good for us. We are designed to move.
So you like being active. Do you exercise?
Yes, I like to move and I try to exercise as often as I can. I do think we lack exercise in general, although in the last years more and more people have become conscious of this fact and taken measures accordingly.
You once said that the enemy of a good thig is an even better thing. What exactly did you mean by that?
This is a saying from many years ago, coming from my film editing professor, Mrs. Cristina Ionescu. It goes like that: better is the enemy of good. It refers to the fact that sometimes, when you try to improve something that is already good, you might end up by ruining it. This, of course, does in no way mean that one should indulge in mediocrity.
Rather: do not lose yourself in an overcomplicated quest for perfection. You seem to be a combination between pragmatic and artistic. As a child, what did you dream to become?
When I was little, people used to ask me what I want to be as a grownup. I did not fully understand the question then, and I still don’t understand it to this day. In a way, I think this is a classic misconception. I prefer to be guided by my instincts, and I also believe in experimenting.
How much were your professional choices influenced by the fact that you grew up in an artistic milieu branded with the name “Marcel Iureș”?
It’s hard to quantify, but probably pretty much – taking into consideration that I grew up in a theatre and that my mother is a musician. At home I would listen to my mother playing the piano, I would watch my father reading his texts and also, there was a gigantic library in our house and books piled up everywhere. So, I guess all these have excreted their influences.
This is not the first time you work on a project for the Vodafone România Foundation. To what extent is a project like “Letters to Santa” a challenge to you as a director, and how much to the man Alex Iureş?
I strongly believe in the good done by people, and I think the challenge is to keep doing good deeds. Regardless when or to whom. This is an extremely beautiful project and it’s really nice to see that it has continued for so long. I think this is an example worth following. In terms of directing, George Dăscălescu, my good friend whom I co-directed the spot with, and I, are trying to treat things as crisp as possible. Sure there are recipes, but we do not think they should be applied automatically. In “Letters to Santa” I wanted the story to unfold naturally, without a “make-up” that can sometimes distract from the original message.
You and George are a team. How did that happen?
I know George since I was ten, because we both spent our childhoods in the Odeon Theatre. The backstage, the stage and the theatre gym were the playground we shared with another very good friend of ours, Andrei Ioachim. Since then and until 2011, when we met again at a film festival, I lost contact with George. It was there that somebody introduced us, and at first, we did not recognize each other. But of course, a few minutes later came the revelation. From there on, things evolved quickly and naturally.
To what extent is the script of the spot reality related and how much of it is fictional?
The script tells the true story, in the sense that it follows the letter back to Santa, the same way it happens in the unfolding of the volunteer program. Along with George I read a number of letters written by children who are part of the program. It was a real delight to go through those letters. They are bewildering sincere and simple. The letter we used in the spot, the one written and read by the boy, is a genuine letter, slightly changed by us. To conclude, I would say the scenario is very close to how things happen in reality. So was the set we used for filming. The house is a historical monument. If I remember well, it is some 90 years old.
Who else worked on this project?
The team is always the same: George and I, together with a bunch of people we have worked with before. We try to have continuity because a grinded team performs better. In general, people who you start working with and who choose to stay by your side do it because you begin to share a certain working style and you eventually reach a point where everyone knows exactly what his or her job is.
The project undertaken for the 2013/2014 season opening of the Bucharest Opera House is remarkable (https://vimeo.com/90330123 – courtesy of Bucharest Opera House). Were the same people involved there also?
Yes, mostly. It was an interesting endeavor, because we were talking about some spots dedicated to classical performances, but mounted in an entirely new manner. The challenge came mostly from there, because the spots had to be something else than what we had done before. There was quite a lot of freedom in terms of creativity and therefore the pressure was slightly higher.
What other “artistic” passions do you fancy?
I take pictures occasionally. But it doesn’t really qualify as a passion. I would say it is more one man’s desire to preserve something that will probably fade away in the next five minutes or so.
They say if you want to make the gods laugh, you should tell them what you plan for your future. Still, what are your future plans?
I know this may sound weird, but in general I do not plan my future. At most, I can think of a direction, something like a theme. For now, it is to persevere in doing things well. I believe thinking too much about the future can take you out of the present, and you might therefore miss the things that are happening right before your eyes.
Thank you and we are looking forward to your next projects.
Name: Alexandru Iureș
Date of birth: 28.01.1983
Place of birth: Bucharest