How it started

The experimental film started at various moments. The scenario is based on an unpublished novel by Onno. But the scenario came later. The first beginnings of the film were little episodes that Onno filmed for Beatka. It was the first time that Onno created anything with an audience in mind. And what an audience: his wife who is also an experienced film director.

Onno went out to the streets the first moment the pandemic started to subside, or at least so it seemed at the time. He filmed in urban areas around the house, returned, edited and showed the result to Beatka. Mama also joined the viewings.

The episodes grew organically. There was no scenario nor plan. Every new episode just built on the foundation of the previous ones. The backdrop of the episodes was a fictional character that Beatka and Onno had developed as a concept. The fictional character was to function in an upcoming film on the Polish TriCity underground music scene in the eighties. To attract a foreign audience to such an occult topic an attractive Western narrator was created: Stefan. At that time Stefan had no features or identity yet.

After four or so episodes of Stefan, Beatka came up with the idea to use the episodes as the starting-point to create a longer film. She also suggested a frame: the International Rotterdam Film Festival. As it happened, the deadline for the submission of a short film was near. But the deadline for a feature film was set for a month later. So Beatka and Onno decided to create a feature film, meaning they needed 60+ minutes of film.

They then decided that the short episodes as such could not make up the full feature film. The duration of these episodes was on average a minute and a half, and it was deemed that forty episodes would be too much of a good thing. So, an additional storyline was needed as a cement between the episodes.

The most obvious additional storyline would have been the TriCity underground music scene for which the character was created. But, Beatka and Onno decided otherwise. They decided that the character needed to be expanded upon so that it, in the future in a second film, could carry the weight of being a bridge between East and West. The one element of the music scene that did remain was music from the scene. Concretely, Beatka and Onno got permission from their friend Jarek Janiszewski to integrate in the film songs from the legendary band Bielizna (Underwear) in any shape or form they wanted.

To provide for an additional storyline, now Onno’s unpublished novel came in. There was not much time until the Festival’s submission deadline, so some sort of ready-made content was needed. The novel subsequently was plundered for episodes that would give more depth and meaning to Stefan.

Unfortunately, the Festival’s deadline still came too early. A half-finished film was submitted and, naturally, was rejected. This could have been the end of the film but after a few months of reflection, Beatka and Onno took up the challenge to finish the film in style. They decided to redo five large episodes or about half of the film (in minutes).