David Sipoš: Those who persist and believe in what they do, those will win and succeed on their path
David Sipoš is known to the Slovenian public as a film-maker and director of documentary feature films. He is a recipient of several national and international film festival awards.
David Sipoš, you’re known to the Slovenian public as a film-maker and director of documentary feature films. You’re a recipient of several national and international film festival awards. What made you choose this professional career; do you also see your work as promoting Slovenia and its people?
I came into contact with film rather late in my childhood. It was at the end of preparatory high school; I went to the diocesan classical preparatory high school in Maribor. I got the opportunity to go to a mission in Albania where I had to film a short report. No one else wanted to do it, so I volunteered to film and then edit it. It was only when I started editing that I realised how interesting that was. You can make a completely new story from a series of unrelated videos. If I look further back, it’s like Lego or a puzzle, and that’s exactly what film is. I was lucky to have encountered film at just the right time to enrol in the academy, and from that moment on I think I’ve never doubted that I choose the right path. I feel I’ve been led by love for the homeland my whole life. And for the great, important Slovenians, including my great great uncle Fran Ksaver Meško, a writer and one of the great authors of the 20th century. To be able to connect Slovenia, highlight important Slovenians and moments in our history through film ... this has been constantly on my mind.
Today you have your own film studio. For the most part, you create at home. Is it possible to succeed in the field of film production in the Slovenian environment at this point in time, or, if taking the example of Mitja Okorn, does one have to go to Hollywood to do that?
I think many definitions exist about what success is and what film is. Film is a very general term within which it’s possible to find a niche in which you enjoy creating. Perhaps that’s not necessarily a feature-length film. Hats off to Mitja Okorn, who has made it so far to direct feature films, which I perhaps will never accomplish. Each person sets their own goals and fields of work.
I think that what I’m doing now with my permanent crew with whom I create films with Christian themes is the success I’ve always wanted. I top it every day by setting higher goals to reach beyond Slovenia and work for foreign clients, so it all depends on how you set your criteria for success. Everyone is working within their own capabilities, and I think that it’s not difficult to find what you’re really good at. If passion for film and love for the work keep you going, you’ll find a field to be successful in.
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What kind of an environment for filmmaking is Slovenia after 30 years of independence? Funds are sometimes earmarked for projects which have no connection with Slovenia’s promotion. On the other hand, there’s no money for projects focusing on patriotic themes. What do you think of that?
I don’t involve myself in those backgrounds, I follow my vision. Through film, I try to help the world to see the positive sides. To see bright examples of people from the past, which is why I create films about great Slovenians from our Christian history, and that’s why I like filming Slovenia and its beauty. I don’t contemplate matters on which I don’t agree with other people. If you’re honest with yourself and create what you feel, you contribute something to the world. I can convey my experience to the world and my respect for our ancestors and the great people who have made Slovenia what it is today. I feel immense gratitude to be a Slovenian in an independent Slovenia and create Slovenian films. Although I could’ve gone abroad many times, I’ve decided to stay. Slovenia needs our stories and that’s why I’ll stay and continue creating.
It seems as if two parallel worlds of social reality have been built in culture and society in general. One side is trying to deny the importance of independence, an independent Slovenia, family, homeland, the importance of parenthood, fatherhood, motherhood. While the other side is trying to perpetuate these values. As an example, I would cite the ceremonies on the occasion of Prešeren Day in 2019 and 2020 and your approach to the ceremony this year. How do you comment on these parallel worlds?
I don’t see these two worlds as black and white as you’ve perhaps presented them now. It may be more about different approaches as to how a person perceives this world. Some things may be passed on from generation to generation and one perhaps doesn’t see anything else other than what they were taught by their parents. After all, we have to accept the fact that people have different views than we do. It’s very difficult to say that only one path is correct. In the long run, the one with stronger foundations will endure.
One-hit wonders or cultural shocks excite the public instantly, at a given moment, in a given year, but then they are forgotten. I personally enjoy looking at art in a very long time frame. Art that has something to convey and has solid foundations remains for centuries, millennia, and what was just a fad is quickly forgotten and not mentioned again. I walk my own path and follow the principles that were laid in my cradle. The Christian principles that I’ve followed through life and must pass on. People like to listen to this, but some find it inferior and are somewhat reserved.
You prove that in spite of Slovenia’s small size and bureaucratic obstacles, it’s possible to succeed. What’s your message to those who doubt and say that it’s not possible and that there are too many obstacles?
I think this applies in any area of life one decides to pursue. Those who persist and believe in what they do, are prepared to work harder than the rest, are prepared to wake up before others and work late into the night, those will win and succeed on their path. This doesn’t only apply in film, which is tough as a craft, as an art. It’s judged by many people, and everyone has their own taste and opinion. Perseverance and decision count in any field, and with these one can succeed anywhere. Everyone who wants to succeed has the opportunity. Young people, nothing will be done for you so you can succeed without any effort, but if you work hard, you’ll surely succeed.
Thank you for the interview.
Author: Franci Donko