The souls behind the plastic

University of Winnipeg film students deliver a sequel to last year’s Plasticman 1

  • Who says sequels have to suck? Milos Mitrovic (pictured) collaborated with Fabian Velasco to deliver Plasticman 2. – Supplied

It all started as a joke last year at the University of Winnipeg’s Student Film Festival.

Fabian Velasco had just finished screening the final project from his third-year filmmaking class - Plasticman 1, a loopy homage to German expressionism in which a mannequin pressures a young man to cut off his girlfriend’s leg.

Milos Mitrovic had pursued and landed the role of Plasticman’s young male lead after being impressed by Velasco’s previous work.

“I emailed him saying ‘Put me in your movie,’” Mitrovic says, sitting beside his collaborator at a rickety Mondragon table. “And he did.”

“Because I didn’t have anyone else,” Velasco explains.

“Yeah, you don’t have any friends.”

After Plasticman 1 screened, Mitrovic’s friends assailed him with questions about the film’s inconclusive ending.

“They came up to me and asked, ‘What happens to your character? What happens?’ and as a joke I replied ‘It will all be explained in Plasticman 2: Back to New York.”

That idle promise lurked in the back of Mitrovic’s mind over the summer break as he considered script ideas for his own upcoming third year of filmmaking.

Then, while attending the Gimli Film Festival, he caught Spanish indie flick The Hollow Man’s Tragedy (La Tragedia Del Hombre Hueco). The film’s story of a man without a heart reignited Mitrovic’s memories of his previous plastic co-star.

But this time instead of searching for a leg, the mannequin would be after a soul.

“It’s all about friendship,” Mitrovic says. “I remember in high school my best friend started going through some hard times. He’d be an asshole, treat me like dirt and I stuck around. He eventually realized what a good friend I was, but by then I’d realized what a dick he was. I couldn’t forgive him and now we have this awkward relationship where he still wants to be friends and I can’t stand him.

“A lot of films are about romance, about guy-girl relationships. When those break up, you stop talking and it’s done. But friendships keep going
they last forever in different forms.”

Mitrovic’s first step to making his film a reality was drafting Velasco as cinematographer and co-creator.

“I ended up sending Fabian about six drafts of the script before then passing it to (instructor) John Kozak,” Mitrovic says. “For a long time I’d walk around in circles in my living room, going over the ideas. I’m a pacer. It’s mostly the coffee high, though. Once that goes away, you crash and everything you’ve written sucks.”

The duo kicked off pre-production in August and settled in for a grueling schedule that included 17-hour film shoots, venues falling through without notice and a father eager to make his silver screen debut (Mitrovic cast his dad for his thick Serbian accent).

The two admit to ranging emotionally from unperturbed calm to sleep-deprived mania.

“The filming process is the worst,” Velasco explains. “We hate it so much, but we can’t do anything else.”

“It’s a love/hate relationship,” Mitrovic nods. “With more hate than love. But the feeling on that last day of filming - of having a movie done - that’s the best feeling ever.”

Plasticman 2 is being submitted to the University of Winnipeg Student Film Festival (as well as the Gimli, Toronto Afterdark, Buenos Aires and Sarajevo Film Festivals). To see if Plasticman 2 makes the festival, head to theatre.uwinnipeg.ca/filmfest.htm.

Published in Volume 66, Number 26 of The Uniter (April 5, 2012)

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