INTERVIEW WITH IGOR BOGDANOVIC, MOVIE DIRECTOR
The shortest path to happiness
Skopje, 17 November 2012
As part of his project, Igor Bogdanovic from Croatia asks people from all over world the same thing: What is happiness and which is the shortest way to it? Generally, he gets similar answers from people from the Balkans, as well as from far away countries such as India, Pakistan and Iran. Still, the later put more emphasis on family and homeland as important parts of what happiness represents.
Igor Bogdanovic recently finished his master studies in air engineering. He has been working as a video graphic artist for the last five years, and has made hundreds of short videos. He was part of the team that founded the first web TV in Croatia, where he worked as a movie director for five years. He has also made four documentaries. One of them, “Walking down the road”, won third prize at the Rovinj film festival, in the “Documentary movies” category. His documentary called “The shortest path – The beginning” is a 17 minute-long pilot episode for the project which is the reason for this interview. “The beginning” is the first episode in a series of documentaries meant to provoke the people who see it to ask themselves one simple question: Which is the shortest path to happiness?
The project continues in the form of a road trip starting from Croatia, through Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, all the way to India. Together with Igor on this road trip are Branko Markovic, Ivan Ivek and Teja Saksida. People can follow their progress through the following Link/Facebook
Essentially, one of the reasons for this trip was the subject of difference in attitudes about life, and different mentalities from different cultural environments, Igor says. For example, people from India, Pakistan and Iran said that family and homeland are an important part of their happiness much more than people from other countries, which didn’t put these two things at first place on their list. Still, in average, all the people have similar perceptions of happiness, the difference is the path to it. But it’s not because of the cultural differences, but because of the individual ones. People have their own interests, and accordingly, different things and experiences make them happy.
MIA: How did you come up with the idea of a road trip of this kind, and now that it is approaching its end (planned until the end of the year) are you satisfied with its course?
The idea for this project came spontaneously. Three months before the road trip started, my friend and fellow traveller Branko Markovic asked me if I wanted to join him on a trip to India, and make a documentary about it. I, myself was planning a longer trip for some time then, so I gladly accepted. From that moment on, everything started happening very quickly. I worked through the idea for the movie in a few days and started filming the pilot project which was completed two days before the trip. You can see that movie at: LINK
As for the end of the trip, it is still not that close. The plan is to return by the end of the year, but there is a possibility that it prolongs for a bit. It depends on many things. For now, my plan is to return home by 20th December 2012. I have to admit, I miss my home and I can’t wait to see all my dear people and of course, start editing the movie. I like that creative part of the work as much as I like the trip itself and the filming so I am looking forward to it. So far, the trip has been more pleasant than unpleasant and I am satisfied with everything that has happened. You can see more about the project at fttp://igg.me/p/189952.
MIA: What were the most interesting answers about happiness that you got?
There were all kinds of answers. To be honest, without seeing the recorded material, I can’t answer this question. It is hard for me to pick certain details because this trip is full of impressions, whether about the movie or not. This is my first time that I have left Europe, so all the experiences were new and unfamiliar to me. Some of the most meaningful answers were that freedom is what makes you happy; that love is happiness; and the most common one, that only when you make other people happy, can you be happy yourself. Those are all answers I definitely agree with. There were different answers, some people said they didn’t know, others said they simply were not happy, and I want to make this documentary for those people. I hope this story puts a smile on few faces.
MIA: Is there a big difference between people when it comes to this topic? Do people in the Balkans and India perceive happiness in the same way?
Essentially, one of the reasons for this trip was the subject of difference in attitudes about life, and different mentalities from different cultural environments. For example, people from India, Pakistan and Iran said that family and homeland are an important part of their happiness much more than people from other countries. There are definitely certain differences, but generally all the people give similar answers. I will know more of this when I start editing the movie. Still, in average, all the people have similar perceptions of happiness, the difference is the path to it. But it’s not because of the cultural differences, but because of the individual ones. People have their own interests, and accordingly, different things and experiences make them happy.
MIA: What is your definition of happiness… or the shortest path to it?
My definition of happiness would be that it is the moment of fulfilment with what I am doing. As long as I am completely into what I am doing, present and aware of the action, as long as the memories and imagination are just a side effect, but I am actually focused on what is happening around me and inside of me, I am happy. Sometimes I am happy when I am riding the bike with an unknown person through unknown areas, far away from home, sometimes when I am working on a project, or when I am spending time with the closest people, walking in the mountains or having a swim in the sea. Sometimes I am happy when, on the road, I come across a lively dog or an elephant so close that I can touch it, something that recently happened to me. Long story short, it is all in the moment. In the moment that I can stretch out to infinity, as long as I see life as a game instead of something very serious. Of course, that is a game in which I take responsibility for the people around me, and for the consequences of my actions, but still, it is just a game. For me, happiness is when life is dancing. Everything passes, we are all going to die, sooner or later. The brave ones die when the moment comes, and the cowards die slowly, little by little all the time. For me that makes no sense.
MIA: Did the answers disappoint you a little, maybe?
No way. Honestly, I think that when you ask the average person a sincere question with little time to think, but to answer straight away, from the heart, he is very wise. Unfortunately, we don’t get to live from the heart, because we have to struggle with loans and with finding ways to make ends meet until the next pay check. But when we are caught by surprise, that is when we are honest. I don’t ask the question until I have turned the camera on. The first reaction is a sincere one. The answers don’t disappoint me. Bottom line, I don’t have any expectations of the answers I want to get, so every answer is a surprise, and it’s mostly a pleasant surprise.
MIA: Why didn’t you include Macedonia in this trip?
I didn’t plan the route, my friend Branko did. Actually, that first part of the route. At one moment we considered going to Macedonia and Greece, instead of Bulgaria. I have some very dear friends in Macedonia that I would gladly visit, but because of the situation in Greece, Branko didn’t think it would be clever to go that way. That was the time when transportation workers in Greece were on strike, so it would have been a problem to find transport. That is why we decided to take a different route. But, given that I still don’t know the route which I’ll take when I come back, it is possible that I come to Macedonia, too.
MIA: Considering that you appeal people to help you financially for the purposes of this trip, can you tell us how much are people willing to help?
Most of the money I spent so far, I made before the trip, and part of it is a loan that I have to return. I also had a minor sponsorship for bus tickets, but that ended in Iran. Ahead of me is a time when I will need some financial help. My friends transferred me a certain amount, so I think I will be able to return home somehow. I have to admit that the financial aspect of the trip is the hardest one. My expenditures are minimal, but they do exist.
MIA: What is the goal of your trip, and what are your next steps?
I have to admit that I still don’t see a clear goal. I’ll try to explain, but I’m not sure that I’ll be able to give a concrete answer. So, my goal is to meet people and cultures, see a world different from everything I know, learn new things, grow up emotionally and spiritually, overcome some limits that I have in me, live an adventure, develop my cinematography abilities and to make a movie on a topic that fulfils me and makes me happy. Maybe, to go away from Zagreb for a while, because after 12 years living in it, I got a little fed up, but now I’m getting a bit nostalgic and I’m looking forward to returning there. There are many reasons for this trip, but the goal is still pretty vague. Maybe to find the purpose of life? Who knows?
MIA: Who is Igor Bogdanovic privately?
Privately, Igor Bogdanovic is a person that loves life and people; doesn’t like the current political and economic situation in the world; and has a great desire for exploring and self-developing. I think that life is for living, experiencing and knowing all of its magnificence. It is definitely not for surviving and waiting for it to end. There is always something that we want, but we don’t have the strength, desire, will and courage to constantly make it happen and to live each new day from scratch. I do have all that. Not even the most difficult moments bother me. As I said, everything passes, good and bad, and I have no intention of bothering. I will put all my love in the people and the activities I have in my life, and I will try to choose my own path, and if something doesn’t go as I expect, it will be because probably it wasn’t the time or the place for it to happen. Everything will happen when it is supposed to, and until then, we’ll go gently, slowly, with an open heart and a head held high. In short, that’s Igor Bogdanovic privately.