Your movie Everything
is Forever - in a few words, what is it about?
is an unflinching look at the
universal creative process. Croatian-born Nenad Bach was a rock star in
his homeland. Growing up under Communism and his resulting disdain for
censorship, along with the lure of the American Dream, motivated Bach to
emigrate to the US. What unspools on the screen is the raw reality of an
artist who strives to have his voice and message heard. A peace activist,
Nenad's lyrics and melodies reflect that calling, and his love for both
Croatia and America are realized in a totally original sound. "I want
to put ancient vibrations in the modern ear," says Bach on his
journey back to Croatia to record the centuries-old acapella folk singers.
We bill the film as a cinematic journey through war and peace and rock
did the project come together in the first place - and how did you
discover the music of Nenad Bach to begin with? And how did you ultimately
get in touch with him?
Victor: I was working at CBS as an
editor on a show called Street Stories back in the 90's. The war in
Croatia was raging, and footage of a profile on Nenad made its way into my
cutting room. He was trying to bring attention to the atrocities happening
within his country. He had recorded a song which was an anthem to peace,
called "Can We Go Higher". I thought he was an artist of substance and his
music was very meaningful to me. The resulting segment remains one of my
favorites from a decade of work on various magazine shows at the network.
About seven years later we ran into each other in NYC and I thought it
would be interesting to begin documenting him. I really had no
expectations of what the result might be. Later that year we were en-route
to Croatia. Once I was introduced to the beauty and culture of his
homeland, I knew something deep would be the outcome.
How would you describe your
narrative and directorial approach to your subject at hand?
There was no way to predict that the journey on this film would lead to
shooting on and off for fifteen years.
It was never planned, but we had developed the habit of shooting and
editing projects over the course of many years. At a certain point, one
film would step to the forefront and we would concentrate on editing it,
and one by one, our indies would get finished.
The truth is we were working on Songs & Stories: New York Remembers
Rory Gallagher, Random Lunacy
in addition to our latest film, Fanatic Heart, which is in its sixteenth
year of production. I once read a quote by Truffaut, to paraphrase:
"You never finish a film -- they just take it away from you." As
renegade indies, there was never anyone to take our film away, so we
eventually must self-impose a deadline, but it must be organic to the
We do these films, mind you, while we earn a living in the industry as our
far as I know, Everything
is Forever took about 15 years to complete - was it supposed to be
a feature length documentary from the get-go, and how did the objective of
the film shape and maybe change over the course of all those years?
About thirteen of the fifteen years were spent wondering: What the hell is
this film? The truth was, as I began to edit the film in earnest, I
realized some universal themes were becoming apparent. For example, a look
at America through the eyes of an immigrant; Nenad's passion for sharing
his Croatian roots with the world at large; and the rigors of artistic
Those rigors were all too familiar to us as filmmakers, and so weirdly
enough, the storytelling became almost autobiographical.
kind of a man is Nenad Bach, what was your collaboration with him like,
and how did your perception of the man change over the years?
Nenad is a very good friend and we hang out all the time.
To his credit, he never asked us when the film would be finally finished.
He trusted us, and we appreciated that.
The interesting thing is that over the course of time, Nenad was always
writing and recording new music, and that influenced the eventual outcome.
For example, the powerful song "Vukovar", which Nenad performed in concert
in Zagreb in 2013, sets the stage for a wrenching scene that is a
heartbreaking revelation into the horrors of war.
I can't imagine Everything
without that climactic scene.
stories and anecdotes that didn't make it into the movie's final cut?
In 2005, Nenad launched a major tour, in which he brought the Croatian folk
singers, called Klapa Sinj, to America. This was a high point in the film,
and for Nenad, a moment in which he enjoyed the exultation of success.
After that tour, we eliminated events that happened over the course of the
next seven years, and cut to a llfe-altering experience for Nenad. The cut
is dramatic and I believe it is shocking enough to underline the
unpredictability of life.
What can you tell us
about your shoots as such?
The film was shot by me, a one-man crew. I'm not very technical, I put
everything on automatic and shoot. But I do know how to cover a scene. For
one concert we had the luxury of two other cameras, but for a variety of
performances it was a one-camera shoot. There is a lot of crappy shooting,
but thankfully, for the most important performances I had a steady hand,
and as if possessed by a real cinematographer, the necessary material was
captured. My strength is editing, so I was up to the challenge of creating
performances from what I had. Since the film was begun in 1999 in standard
def, I decided at the risk of commercial success (due to current prejudice
about films not shot in HD), to continue shooting in this format to retain
the integrity of what we started with.
A few words about audience
and critical reception of your movie?
It has been a joy to screen at festivals, where we witnessed audience
members of many different nationalities being genuinely moved by the film.
Stephanie, Victor and Nenad Bach at the
We had hoped American and of course Croatians would respond, but hearing
reactions of Mexicans, Iranian, Australian, and many more were touched
deeply by the film's message. To think that we inspired a sort of
universality -- WOW. The film recently became available on Amazon, and in
short order the fan reviews were many and very positive.
projects you'd like to share?
Stef: Fanatic Heart is our latest piece of unfinished business. It is a film of
poetry and politics mashed up with a dance party. "New York City's
House Band", Black 47, and its frontman Larry Kirwan are the subjects
of our latest rockumentary.
What got you into
filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on
I took some film classes in college but I learned everything that matters
via real world experience.
I learned on the job also. I have a writing background, and having done
newspaper and magazine articles, I already had a strong understanding of
What can you tell us about your filmwork
prior to Everything
For the sake of brevity, we will mention the docs we did for Bravo
Profiles on Robert Duvall and another on Cyndi Lauper. The shows examined
the creative process of two artists we hold in high esteem.
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
Vic: Random Lunacy, a documentary about a family who lived homeless by choice
on the streets and waterways of the world, is worthy of mention. We wound
up screening on the festival circuit for three years. Exhibiting this film
in the US and abroad was one of the greatest experience of our lives.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
John Huston, Martin Scorsese, Noah Baumbach, and Shane Meadows.
Peter Weir, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Coppola, Kubrick.
Vic: GoodFellas, Midnight
Cowboy, Fat City, This is England.
Stef: Picnic at Hanging Rock, Apocalypse Now, The Hurt
Locker, Birdman, to name
just a few.
... and of course, films you really
The film I hated the most in 2014 goes to Expendables Five.
Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever
Anything else you are dying to mention and I have
merely forgotten to ask?
I think that we blathered on
pretty insistently, we will stop for now, thanks for asking! And thank you
for taking the time to compose these questions and give us a chance to
talk about what we love to do!
Thanks for the interview!