The 94th Oscar nominations have been announced, and with the awards happening on March 27. 360 was able to speak with the director of one of the nominated films, Tadeusz Lysiak. “The Dress” is hoping to garner best short film at the event. Topics include the director’s start with film making, the film itself, and his plans for the future.
1. How did you get into filmmaking?
It all happened after I watched Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino. I was probably 16 years old back then and I remember going out of the theater and having coffee with my family and telling them: I’m gonna be a filmmaker one day. They said that was a great idea and they gave me a lot of advice: they suggested that it’d probably be better if I wouldn’t go to film school just after finishing high school. They reasoned that, “if you’d like to tell stories about life, you’d have to experience life a little at first.” So that’s why I decided to study Cultural Studies at the University of Warsaw. And only after finishing… [was when I] applied to Warsaw Film School. And it was the best choice of my life, they taught me everything I know. Warsaw Film School is such a cool place!
2. A lot of your work covers sensitive topics. Why is that?
In WFS they always teach us to ask ourselves what bothers us with the world, what there is to change or repair, and to never tell stories that are not important to us personally. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m deeply interested in sensitive, social, or psychological topics, and that’s why my films are focused on them.
3. Why did you decide to create a film about disability and intimacy?
Because it is something that is not often talked about! I find it deeply disturbing that there are still some prejudices in that territory, and some really bad things are still happening to women with disabilities all around the world. University of Michigan says that 40% of women with any sort of disability are being sexually or physically assaulted during their lifetime. This is absolutely terrifying.
4. How did you feel when you found out you received an Oscar nomination?
This is such a surreal feeling, especially because “The Dress” is a student project made just to pass an exam in Warsaw Film School. We were all hoping to get a good grade and that’s it. And now we are nominated for an Oscar. This is a story for yet another movie.
5. How long did the filming process take?
I think you can sum all of it up in roughly one year. At first, it was a couple of months of research and writing the script, then further development, preproduction, and finally 6 days of shooting and three months of postproduction. It was a hard time since we didn’t have a big budget and too many resources.
6. What was your best moment on set?
I must say that the best moment was the last shot. It was 5 AM, we were all so tired and exhausted and I remember that as soon as we finished rolling I started crying, and we all cried so much, and then we hug[ged] each other and drank champagne and it was such a great moment of accomplishment and relief!
7. Who were your favorite people to work with on set?
I just loved everybody. Since it was a student project, most of the crew were my close friends. We were having a lot of fun, but also we worked so hard, driven by our passion to tell this story. I have to thank Konrad Bloch, my cinematographer, who is such a sensitive guy and a true artist. I think of him as an absolute co-author, …as well as Anna Dzieduszycka. It was a huge group effort.
8. Who are your influences?
I think I have many, but the most important ones are certainly: Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher, Roman Polański, Krzysztof Kieślowski, and Michael Haneke. I believe that all of them did in their films what I would like to do: they looked into people’s minds, they looked at what is hidden, what is repressed.
9. What would you like to accomplish career-wise?
Ultimately, I would like to make films in the US, in English— for the simple reason that I want as many people as possible to watch them. I feel like I need to tell different stories and share them with others. This is a hunger that I cannot satisfy. My focus is now on working on my feature-length debut, which will be a psychological thriller.
10. What should we expect from you in the future?
My full-length debut is at a fairly advanced stage of development, we are working on the script. The working title is “Obsession.” I have not yet decided whether I will want to do it in Poland or in the States. It’s a universal story, it would work anywhere. The film will tell the story of a young couple whose daughter one day disappears without a trace and both of them begin to fall into madness because of it.
11. Describe “The Dress” in one word.
12. What do you want people to take away from “The Dress?”
I would like them to see that there is still a lot of evil in the world. That we still have a lot to fix. And that we should treat eachother with respect and dignity. This is especially important nowadays.