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The Directors

The Directors: Ilinca Calugareanu

MAJORITY Films director Ilinca on client/producer relationships, high stake shoots and enjoying the creative process

The Directors: Ilinca Calugareanu

Ilinca CALUGAREANU (1981, Romania) is a London-based documentary filmmaker and editor. She studied filmmaking at Manchester’s Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. She has a background in anthropology with a focus on communist and post-communist Romania. For the past five years she has also been working as editor of fiction and documentary shorts and features.


What elements of a script sets one apart from the other and what sort of projects get you excited to shoot them?

It's so hard to quantify what sets a script apart, it's really more of a gut feeling that generally has to do with the story. I am most attracted to stranger than fiction stories that have a streak of humor running through them, characters which are elusive and multifaceted, as well as narrative structures which are challenging and hence exciting to unpack. 


For you, what is the most important working relationship for a director to have with another person in making an ad? And why?

The two most important relationships for me are the ones with the client and the producer. Collaboration with the client helps me ensure the project being developed is honoring their needs. A strong collaborative relationship with the producer helps me ensure that what I want to do, can actually happen within the budget and time constraints we are working with. 


What type of work are you most passionate about - is there a particular genre or subject matter or style you are most drawn to?

I have found more bizarre and surreal stories in the real world than I could have ever imagined myself. So more than anything I am drawn to true stories, whether they become documentaries or scripted projects it is that seed idea based in reality that inspires me most. In terms of genre I am attracted to black comedies with a thriller tread. 


What’s the craziest problem you’ve come across in the course of a production – and how did you solve it?

On one of our most high stakes shoots I had to deal with an incredibly talented DOP who had one big fault - whenever he would get flustered over an idea not working he would simply get stuck and could not keep going no matter what I did. So much time would be lost from our shoot day because of this. I had to accept that I did not have a way to get through to him. So I had one of the producers, who had a longstanding bond with him, come on set for the rest of the shoot, because of their bond she was able to easily get through to him in ways I couldn't. Very often directing is not about me fixing everything myself but working with my team to find the best person for the job. 


How do you strike the balance between being open/collaborative with the agency and brand client while also protecting the idea?

The solution for me is collaboration, filmmaking at its best is all about teamwork. I strive to find a way to include everyone in the process while protecting the idea simply by holding steadfast to the core of it. I make sure to always remind myself of the main reason why I wanted to make the film. With that front of mind, I can more easily see what around that core idea can change and develop without damaging its essence. 


How do you feel the pandemic is going to influence the way you work into the longer term? Have you picked up new habits that you feel will stick around for a long time?

The biggest thing I think I will carry with me is giving projects more time to develop and allowing myself to really enjoy the creative process.


What’s your relationship with new technology and, if at all, how do you incorporate future-facing tech into your work?

I haven't yet worked with any future-facing tech. 


Which pieces of work do you feel really show off what you do best – and why?

I believe my first feature doc Chuck Norris vs Communism gives a strong sense of who I am as I director. It is a playful but tense hybrid documentary based on a stranger than fiction story, a film that gave me the space to play and experiment but also the opportunity to collaborate with several incredible creatives. 


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Category: Media and Entertainment , Movies

Genre: Documentary