Atdhe Trepca is an Albanian commercial director working in Los Angeles and New York. His narrative and photography projects have been curated by popular publications and festivals across the country. Likewise, his commercial work has been serviced to major studios, television networks and popular brands. The common thread between these works is a dedication to human behavior, a design oriented vision with an affinity to celluloid film, and a high standard for compelling storytelling.
Exclusive Interview with Filmmaker Atdhe Trepca
NY Glam: Congratulations on being accepted at the prestigious International Filmmaker Festival of New York. Can you tell us about the film and the process of making it?
Making a film is like making love. You fantasize, anticipate rehearse, and prepare. You try your best to make sure everything is just perfect for that day. Then you get there and it’s all over much too quickly. It’s messy, chaotic or boring and awkward.
But every so often everything does fall into place. There is no need to prepare because everything just comes to you naturally. It feels as though you’re being used as a vessel for the great beyond. While you’re doing it you feel a connection to the entire universe; every living and non living thing. You realize this is what love is. This is what life is. This is what the great philosophers were talking about. This is nirvana. THIS is what EVERYTHING is about. This is why we’re here. It’s all so simple…
And it’s never truly over because the memory is so strong it stays with you forever. It’s like your first crush, telling her you love her at recess and being denied!, telling her you love her again and being accepted! The feelings you experienced are metaphysical and not bound by the physical. That day becomes embedded into the fabric of time and space and can still be felt even long after you are gone.
Making this film was like that day.
NY Glam: How did you go about casting for the film?
I grew up acting and I never landed any audition. It was a huge blow to my ego. The only solace was hoping that the director would remember my audition for another project. It never happened of course. Whenever I hold auditions now I think of that kid I was. I honor him by giving each and every person a chance and by truly keeping people in mind for other projects. This film was a situation in which I was really blown away by an audition but it was not right for the project being auditioned for. Then when this project came along I thought of her. It was perfect.
NY Glam: What is the story about and how did you achieve it cinematically?
The story is about human desire and its relationship with society. We decided to capture the entire film in one uninterrupted take. By presenting the film in real time it evokes intense focus from the audience and puts them in a state of openness and acceptance for whatever is to come. We also decided to capture the film on 35mm film. This was done in honor of our love for cinema, for the love of beauty, and to create something literally and figuratively real.
NY Glam: Will you be attending the IFFNY festival in New York in May?
Yes, I look forward to meeting my fellow filmmakers.
NY Glam: How long have you been making films and videos?
For about 15 years. I have been making films from the moment I could operate my family’s home video camera.
NY Glam: What film was your directorial debut?
I was 8 years old. This is important. I was 8 years old and I took my family’s camera. Except the camera was zoomed in all the way so the images were just blurry colors and sounds. I went around my house documenting the sounds and colors. Ten minutes later I plugged the camera into the TV and watched what I had recorded. Instantly, I started crying. It was a full body experience of joy and wonder. It all felt so important. Hank, our family handyman was working in the living room. He stopped working to watch the film. “Why are you crying,” He asked.
NY Glam: What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?
While making Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola talked about how at a certain point he stopped caring about what people would think of his film. He says,“Finally you say fuck it. I don’t care if I’m pretentious or not pretentious. Or if I’ve done it or haven’t done it. All I know is that I’m going to have to see this movie and that for me it has to have some answers. And by answers I don’t mean just a punchline. Answers on about 40 different levels.”
This was a huge lesson for me for filmmaking in general but also specifically this film. At a certain point I have to throw my hands in the air and say this movie means something to me and that’s enough. I connect to the movie, I feel something, I understand it and if I’ve been honest, vulnerable and daring while writing, shooting and editing, then other people will connect to it too.
NY Glam: Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
It is impossible to get started and it is impossible to keep going. Both of those require “trying” and in life there is no try. Do or do not. There is no try! Understanding this philosophy required me to conquer myself. Your self is truly the only thing you have to conquer. That’s the only “hard” part. Then life is neither a state of getting started or continuing. It is a state of being.
NY Glam: How has your style evolved?
My style has gone from Michelangelo to Basquiat. I started by striving for beauty and perfection and then ended up making my own canvas from broken bed frames and painting with blood. People say they like to go to films for an escape but I want my films to wake them up and make them want to call their mothers and ask for forgiveness. Today can be the last day we spend on this Earth so I don’t want to spend one more second escaping. I especially don’t want to help others escape. I want all of us to be awake and I try to do that by splattering the canvas with wet paint and rubbing the colors together until it feels right. Because I know, and you know, and they know exactly what it feels like when something feels right. And that feeling is way better than a 120 minute nap.
NY Glam: What has been your personal key to success?
Next time you take a shower, you’ll notice your window is fogged up. Write this on your window: “Just Keep Going.” Then leave. Every time you take a shower this message will appear on your window through the fog. Sometimes you’ll forget you did it and it will be a surprise reminder. Just keep going: that’s my personal key to success.
NY Glam: What are you thinking about doing next?
I am thinking about doing some living. Successful people try to tell you that while you’re sleeping your competition is working. They try to tell you that you have to keep working to be successful. That is all true and that is what I’ve been doing for my whole life. And I have become successful. But I’ve become THEIR definition of success. I don’t want anything from them anymore. All I want is my life back. So what I am doing next is living and no one can shame me into working again.
NY Glam: Where does your studio want to go from here?
I can’t speak for the studio that made this film but my work will continue to grow and strive to make meaningful content.