Luka Marčetič is Slovenian director, actor and screenwriter, most famous for his web series Dan ljubezni (The Day of Love). The series, which premiered in November 2009 and lasted till December 2010, was popular among teenagers and generated more than 450.000 views on YouTube only, which is a huge achievement if we take into consideration, that Slovenia has the population of 2 millions.
The Day of Love follows two friends: Simon, portrayed by Luka Marčetič, and Anže who chase girls and get into many funny/awkward situations.
The Day of Love was a no-budget production. However, I’ve spotted some brands and some well-known bars that are located in Ljubljana, which was one of the reasons for making this interview. The other was the fact that there aren’t many Slovenian movies, TV shows or music videos that contain product placement. The interview was originally published in Slovenian, so here is a bit shorter version, without some Slovenia-specific themes. You can read original interview in the blog post Intervju: Luka Marčetič, avtor spletne nadaljevanke Dan ljubezni
In the first episode of the series both lead characters, Simon and Anže, were sitting in a bar and ordered a beer. One ordered Laško, the other one Union (both are Slovenian brands of beer). How come?
The scene with two brands of beer originates from the pre-episode, where we joked withtwo rival Slovenian brands of beer and the idea of ‘I drink Laško and I pee Union.’ From that scene on Simon drinks Laško beer, while Anže drinks Union. I wanted the characters to be just the opposite when it comes to drinking beer.
But in a scene, which was shot in a striptease bar, I noticed that Anže drinks Heineken. If you watch the bottle very carefully, you can recognize the brand. How did Heineken got into that scene?
Hmmm, are you sure, it wasn’t a Union beer? Niko (the actor who played Anže) probably ordered a beer and the waiter just brought him Heineken. His character should have constantly drunk one brand of beer, even though that’s not really necessary. But that’s just one small detail.
So the scene with Heineken wasn’t created in collaboration with one of the breweries?
No, not at all. In the first Slovenian web TV series Mesto petelinov (City of cocks), you could’ve seen tables, full of Union cans in every episode. I’ve once spoken with the creators of the series and they’ve told me that they made such scenery in order to get some funds from the Union brewery. But in the end nothing came of it. We didn’t have such ambitions.
So you haven’t visited Laško brewery or Union brewery with the idea that you would include their brands in some episodes?
No, because in the beginning I’ve seen our series as a web series without sponsors or any business agreements. That was the basis to do a totally independent project. However, I’ve later received one offer. After the fourth episode we were contacted by Slovenian advertising agency Pristop. They wanted to include some sort of an advert for Skittles candies in the series. At that time Skittles was in the middle of an advertising campaign, so Pristop wanted to use the popularity of our web series. I even had an idea for a scene: Simon is dreaming and he’s about to kiss his girlfriend Tanja. Just before their lips will touch, Tanja would explode into Skittles and Simon would wake up.
The scenes with Skittles were not included in the series. Why?
In principle I liked the idea about having Skittles in the series, because we wouldn’t show the brand directly, but in a more subtle way. At that time Skittles had two ads: the one with a guy touching objects and turning them into Skittles (The Skittles Touch) and the one with the singing rabbit (Skittles Rabbit). They (the advertising agency) wanted to include the rabbit in the series.
How come you haven’t reached an agreement?
The decision was up to me. I gave a lot of thought to find the right way to incorporate the candies into the series without making it look stupid. I almost agreed to the cooperation, but thankfully I didn’t. It would be the biggest mistake ever and could even ruin the series. Also, in the end the advertising agency didn’t get the funds to do this campaign anyway.
Why would this cooperation be the biggest mistake ever?
I wouldn’t make any sense and the scenes wouldn’t look like an organic part of the series, but more like some forced part. Imagine, for example Anže, who’s hitting on a girl, and then suddenly a singing rabbit runs past him. For a moment Anže would look completely confused and then the scene will continue as if nothing happened. That would be completely wrong.
In each episode you included some well-known Slovenian actor or actress. Why did you decide to include these special guests?
We didn’t do it for higher ratings, that’s for sure. We thought of this cooperation as some sort of an experiment. I wanted to find out, if we can convince 11 or 12 famous Slovenian actors to participate in an amateur no-budget project. We did it and it was great.
How many of them you had to invite to get a sufficient number of participants?
We invited 15 people and got 11 participants.
Who refused to participate?
Slovenian minister for transport Mr. Patrick Vlačič initially agreed to participate, but just before we started to record ‘his’ episode, he changed his mind.
That’s unfortunate. You would get a lot of publicity. The question is how people would react to the minister’s appearance in the series.
I believe that politicians would definitely watch the episode with minister Vlačič. I don’t know whether they’d watch the entire series, but for sure they’d watch that episode. The whole episode would be made in a way that itwouldn’t present any problems for the minister.
The first episode was filmed in the UFO bar in Ljubljana. Viewers were able to see the bar’s logo on the building and on the waiter’s uniform. The other bars weren’t as exposed as UFO. Why?
There is an issue with the bars and restaurants: you have to ask them to allow you to shoot the movie in the bar. But the hardest part is to convince them to turn off the music or at least turn down the volume.
That could be avoided, if the shooting occurs in the morning or at night.
We filmed The Day of Love when there were very few guests, but we still had problems in places with loud music. The original idea was to record all bar/restaurant scenes in UFO, because it’s on a good location and we could’ve easily shown the exterior of UFO. The shortcomings of UFO were poor acoustics and a lot of guests that’s why it was included only in the first and the second episode.
After that we shot a few scenes in Antico Cafe, located in the old part of Ljubljana. We showed the exterior, but you can hardly notice the logo, because it’s very small, a lot smaller than UFO’s. The acoustics were good, but we eventually switched the location again and shot the next bar scene in Kavarna Mačkon. It was great there. The owner offered us full support, didn’t charge us anything and even gave us free drinks.
Did you receive only free drinks or something else?
We tried to order (and pay for) as many drinks as possible, to repay for the hospitality. Otherwise we would have to pay the rent.
Have you thought of including some brand dropping in the script or mentioning some bars or restaurants, e.g. ‘Come, let’s go for a drink in the Antico Cafe.’ Or something like that…
Yes. Such possibility existed in the sixth episode, when Anže was talking to Natalija and he mentioned that Simon met Tanja in a bar. At first I thought that they should meet in UFO, but later I’ve changed my mind. I thought that promotion of that kind wasn’t the right one. In the end we agreed that Anže would say that they met ‘in a bar.’
How come bars from Ljubljana haven’t decided to arrange some deal with you, some cross-promotion for example? A bar could have a special “The Day of Love” cocktail; your show could be promoted with photos of the crew in the bar or with a sign “The Day of Love was filmed here” or something similar. For you, that would simplify the process of getting new locations and maybe some additional free drinks.
At the time of filming bars and restaurants didn’t know who we are and what we do, especially UFO, because we had just started filming. I promised the owner of UFO that his bar will be definitely shown on the screen and it will be seen by at least 30,000 people. He agreed with the proposition. Later we didn’t receive any proposals, although I think such collaborations with bars or restaurants are really great. At that time we didn’t think that way. It seemed to us that we should pay the ‘rent’ and not vice versa. Usually you have to pay something to be able to film at some location. Today, as we have more experience, we would probably pay more attention to this part of movie making.
Luka Marčetič (born 1985) is a director, screenwriter, actor, vlogger, TV presenter and creator of computer games. He has filmed his first movie in high school. Here are his current favourites:
cartoon: Spirited Away
action movie: Crank
horror: The Blair Witch Project.