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The Directors: Jara Moravec


Nicholas Berglund director on subversive thinking, bending genres and the art of diplomacy

The Directors: Jara Moravec

Hey. My name is Jara. Or Jaroslav if you want to go fully slavic. I come from Prague, Czech Republic but I find myself staring into a little plastic tray inside a plane all the time. Graduating from photography course, I have always been fascinated with images that make you awe. Or smile. I like to think of films as precious, shiny objects that are worth polishing for until you start going mad. If you do it long enough, they will reflect back who you are. I enjoy mixing beautiful and grotesque, bending genres and referencing the most banal to avoid boring & cringy.

I am proud of goose bumps I experience every now and then, on the set and in the edit. Winning an award is cool but nothing beats that tingly feeling that runs down my spine. This thrill is what propels me forward and I always seek to find it in any project I work on.

That’s how Jara describes himself. After graduation he moved to London and after to Berlin where he started directing music videos and commercials, creating campaigns for Adidas, Erste Bank and Shell. He then came back to Prague and continued building his career taking mundane everyday things and filming them in a fresh and enticing way. His work has been recognised by multiple festivals like Ciclope, Creative Belgium Awards, Horsetooth Film Festival, Kinsale Sharks and others. 

Name: Jara Moravec

Location: Prague

Repped by/in: Kode Media in the UK, Hamlet in France, Belgium, Bistro Films in Czech Republic, Nicholas Berglund globally


Oneplus - Little More Than You’d Expect - Bronze at Kinsale Sharks 2022 - Casting

Bromance - Silver at Ciclope 2021 - Low budget

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

Jara> In general, good scripts show that both agency and client are aware that this is not the first campaign using this particular idea. Subversive thinking, trying to find a different perspective is always a good sign.

LBB> How do you approach creating a treatment for a spot?

Jara> With honesty. My way of thinking is mostly critical (sometimes too critical) and I break creative challenges into individual problems. I define my points of interest as well as moments that might come across as too obvious or cliché. I like to rewrite scripts quite heavily as I come into the process with a fresh pair of eyes. A bit of disruption before we start putting pieces together.

LBB> If the script is for a brand that you're not familiar with/ don’t have a big affinity with or a market you're new to, how important is it for you to do research and understand that strategic and contextual side of the ad? If it’s important to you, how do you do it?

Jara> I am much more interested in the local culture, its sensibilities and how these factors influence the human psychology baseline which is universally shared. I let others deal with brand affinities and strategic contexts - I do think they can become too dominant as these ideas bounce around in the pre production stage quite heavily but are likely lost when a viewer sees the final product.

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

Jara> This goes in two different directions. One would be a creative director, a key partner on the agency side who I need to sync with and exert pressure in one direction. The other would be my DP as so much of our intention is being communicated with how the image looks, especially in advertising. My filmmaking style relies heavily on visual storytelling, taking cues from other parts of the film landscape, current and past, and my DP needs to share this philosophy with me.

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

Jara> The longer I do this work, the more interested I am in bending genres, bringing something that feels inherently own to one style and feature that somewhere else, recontextualising something very familiar. 

The second thing would be humour, mostly slightly dry, dark, self-deprecating, full of awkwardness, celebrating human folly in one way or another.  

LBB> What misconception about you or your work do you most often encounter and why is it wrong?

Jara> That the director is this deep source of ideas, a person that knows it all and can make all the calls perfectly. The truth is I don’t know the right answer a lot of the time and prefer to lean into the experience of my collaborators - producers, HODs who are usually much more experienced.

LBB> Have you ever worked with a cost consultant and if so how have your experiences been?

Jara> Not directly, no.

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

Jara> Hard to pick one! While we were shooting my short film Bromance in one location, we discovered the local electric grid did not have enough power to keep our lights up. Luckily, we found a construction site across the street, ran our cables in the midst of night and secretly sucked all the juicy electricity from there all night, praying that we won’t get busted.

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

Jara> Ah, the ultimate art of diplomacy. This is something I will be always learning and I don’t think there’s any simple answer to it. I always like to keep conversations honest and direct as possible and see how much that’s appreciated. 

LBB> What are your thoughts on opening up the production world to a more diverse pool of talent? Are you open to mentoring and apprenticeships on set?

Jara> I have done mentoring programmes on some of my shoots and in general I try to maintain a friendly, egalitarian atmosphere with my crew, especially on smaller projects, brainstorming ideas. Very often I have no or very little money to pay but I want to give people opportunities to do some creative explorations, try things out. 

LBB> 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? 

Jara> I was terrified the pandemic is going to close international markets and make my life really difficult as I work internationally but live in Prague. Never did I expect to see the opposite - thanks to never ending Zoom calls and remote shoots becoming much more ubiquitous, I feel the playfield become even more open. 

As for my personal adjustments, I realised the power of not doing anything, letting some ideas come to you rather than trying to come up with something on a command. I have suffered from FOMO before the pandemic but I learnt to take things a bit easier. But maybe I am just getting older.

LBB> Your work is now presented in so many different formats - to what extent do you keep each in mind while you're working (and, equally, to what degree is it possible to do so)? 

Jara> That’s an interesting question and something that’s been sitting in my head quite a bit lately. We filmmakers like to think of story arcs and take the audience on the journey but audiences perceive culture in a much more fragmented way. This brings the power of photography back into the spotlight. Having started my career as a photographer, this angle is pretty close to my own work too.

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

Jara> I am definitely curious about it. Midjourney, DALL-E and AI look especially fearsome. Synthesis of moving images from text is a matter of a couple of years before it becomes a reality. But ultimately it’s going to be about overarching vision, taste and ability transforming the results of these tools to something meaningful. That’s where I see the director's work still being relevant.

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Nicholas Berglund, Fri, 02 Dec 2022 09:42:27 GMT