SHP+ continues on the issue of minor representation of female filmmakers in China. Women’s Perspectives is a series of articles where we interview women filmmakers to give exposure to their name and their work, but also talk about their dreams, challenges and realities of being a woman in the industry.
Marina Erdeljan talks fast, radiates gratitude and propels her career forward with determination. The Serbian director initially came to China for 3 months, curious to see how the production industry was working in this part of the world. Six years later, she is as enthusiastic and hungry to learn, experience and achieve more.
“I’m very grateful to earn money doing something I purely love. Sometimes it’s hard and challenging. But I think the most creative part is to learn something new with every new project”, shares Marina early into our conversation. It’s easy to see, how a director as she qualified herself “both approachable and demanding” quickly developed a versatile portfolio. Aside from car clients like Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Marina shot for Adidas, Huawei, Airbnb, OPPO, McDonald’s, Columbia to name a few. She likes shooting cars, a category which female directors usually don’t get many opportunities, but fashion and lifestyle are the areas Marina would love to explore more. Not surprisingly, when we ask about the project she’s most proud of, Marina names a commercial film for fashion brand Ledin. A commercial, which was shot in Shanghai but reached out beyond China, scooping awards of fashion film festivals in Los Angeles, London, Sarajevo, and Croatia.
LEDIN Fashion Film
Marina often chooses to work with her cinematographer husband Vladimir Milosevic. One of the many projects they’ve worked on together was for DARPHIN, a sub-brand of Estee Lauder, featuring influencer Li Jiaqi. It’s not their only experience of shooting with Chinese celebrity— super model Liu Wen and actor Li Xian have also appeared in her work. Marina is a freelance director, but does work a lot with INFINITY FILMS, a production and events studio she co-founded with Vladimir. On those productions, she often doubles up as a producer for events, and sometimes even edits as well. “I discovered, that being exposed to different processes and parts of filmmaking gives me a strong insight on how to improve my work”, Marina shares.
Marina常常和她的摄影指导丈夫Vladimir Milosevic一起工作，雅诗兰黛的子品牌朵梵是他们合作过的众多项目之一，该项目还邀请到了网红名人李佳琦。但这并不是他们与中国名人唯一的一次合作，名模刘雯和演员李现都曾参演过他们的作品。Marina虽然是独立导演，但她常与INFINITY FILMS进行合作，这是一家由她与Vladimir共同创立的制片与活动策划工作室。在这些合作项目中，她经常兼任活动策划人，有时甚至还兼任编辑。Marina分享说:“我发现，接触电影制作的不同过程和部分，让我对如何改进自己的工作有了更深刻的见解。”
LIU WEN X Levis
Since the borders have been closed for foreign talents, Marina admits she has been getting even more opportunities. But she believes that it’s not just the current lack of foreign talent that keeps her busy. “I really value the relationship I’ve developed here. With producers that I know for a long time, even when the budget is not big, but the script is good, and I have free time—let’s do it! Having our own business gives me the liberty and luxury to say yes to projects I like”, she says.
Porsche Taycan 4S “Reveal Your Soul”
Compared to Serbia, a small country where the industry is undeniably more male-dominated, and guanxi is extremely strong, women filmmakers are in a much better position in China, Marina tells us. It’s therefore no surprise that she is very generous with her praise of local talent work. Like AD Ziru Ding, Olivia, Chelsea, Maya, directors Christian Yan, Lin Yi, and editors Dawn, Judy, Becky, Faye. When we ask, if she ever felt any discrimination, she firmly says “No”, adding “Well not anymore”… after a small pause. “I feel the situation’s getting much better now. Six years ago I did a treatment for Porsche pre-event film. The producer told me: your treatment won, but you didn’t”, Marina remembers. The client was sure, that a female director cannot film cars. In the end, she won the project, convincing the client she was every bit as technical, as creative. “I AM very technical, I like to prepare my production decks properly, write my own treatments and I’m very strict on my set.”, Marina shares.
Marina告诉我们，与塞尔维亚这个小国家相比，女性电影人在中国的地位要高得多。塞尔维亚的电影产业完全是由男性主导，其中的 ‘关系’也非常地顽固。或许也正因如此，她对本土人才从不吝啬赞赏。比如她的助理导演 Ziru Ding、Olivia、Chelsea、 Maya, 以及导演们Christian Yan, Lin Yi, 和剪辑师Dawn、 Judy、 Becky、Faye。当我们问到，她是否感受到过任何歧视，她坚定地说不，并在短暂的停顿后补充说：“好吧，不再会有了……我觉得情况现在好多了。六年前，我为保时捷活动的先行电影项目撰写过电影前制论述，制片人跟我说：你的论述赢得了满堂彩，但你没有，”对于此事Marina依然记忆犹新。这位客户坚信，女导演拍不好汽车。故事的最后，她赢得了这个项目，也让客户相信她的技术和创意都很棒。Marina说：“我非常重技术，我喜欢认真准备制片计划，自己写电影前制论述，在片场我也非常严格。”
Marina feels positive about quota-like initiatives like ‘Free the Bid’ of foreign brands to include women directors in pitching. But in her opinion, what would help more is producers being more open-minded and convinced that pitching a female director is every bit as qualified to do the job.
Marina觉得外国品牌一些平权配额的举措没什么不好，比如“Free the Bid”（解放竞标）就倡导在竞标中让女性导演参与进来。但在她看来，更有用的方法是制片人不再怀揣偏见，坚信女性导演也完全有能力胜任这份工作。
Marina believes: “Women in this industry can get more visibility, if we stick together. Especially if we support each other, if we talk to each other and help push each other more. There’s no need to be jealous of each other. Man or woman— it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s the work that you deliver is what matters”.
If you are a female commercial director/cinematographer/production designer/ editor, or you know someone who’s suitable for the series. Feel free to share with us the name.