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Features

Eva Doležalová, Director

Apr 16, 2019

Eva Doležalová, Director

PHOTOS BY : JENNA PUTNAM

We welcome rising star Eva Doležalová, the Czech-born, Los Angeles-based director, who talks with us on how she took her career as a child actor in Czech Republic at age 10, to directing her first short film, “Sound Of Sun” with Sean Penn and Suki Waterhouse as leads — all while being self-taught.

So tell me about your background. Where are you from?

I was born in Czech Republic and I’m coming from a non-film-industry family. My mother raised me by herself with my grandparents, living 20 numbers down on the same street. I have the best brother. He’s 40 years old, 13 years older than me. So when I was young, he was already almost out of the house, but we’ve always remained close. He did a tour of the Czech Republic on a horse and then settled on his own farm where he now lives with his wife, three kids, horses, sheep, ducks, bulls…

 

When did you get started in the film industry?

My mother was always very supportive of everything I chose to do and gave me all the love in the world. I started as a young actress when I was 10 years old. I’ve always had a lot of energy and would be putting up shows, making short stories and constantly filming on hi8 cameras. I was like a show-woman in a way. My grandmother came across an ad one day looking for 10-year-old kids for a feature film. They ended up choosing me out of 300 girls to play the lead. So it was destiny which brought me to the film world at this young age. I continued acting in films and played in theater for three years, where I was later scouted to become a model. I didn’t really desire that world, but I was told I’d travel to Japan, Cuba, New York, Cape Town, Paris, etc. And I thought I should learn about new cultures, languages and independence. So I began traveling when I was 16. For longer terms I’ve lived in Venice, Italy for a year, then three years in London, where I studied at RADA, and then Paris for three years. This is where I started to realize my own artistic voice and longtime dream for filmmaking, which I fully approached three years ago when I moved to LA.

 

At what point did you transition into filmmaking?

I remember the first few subconscious steps towards it; I’ve been always interested in the writers’ and directors’ side of things. When I met Mike Figgis (director of “Leaving Las Vegas”) for an audition, we connected so well that he asked me to co-write the script of the film in which I was also cast, named “Kudelksi.” Other times, I was on set in New Mexico with writer/director Shane Black and legendary cinematographer Dante Spinotti and just watching them work daily made me realize that’s what I truly wanted in my life. The acting was just a passage to what I wanted to do for a lifetime: directing. I suddenly had the urge to create from scratch, I wanted to tell stories and fight for the ideas I believe in.

 

What was the first film you made?

That was almost three years ago now. I had a very vivid dream about me transitioning into an artist and the person I was meant to be. My first film was “Sound of Sun.” I told Suki Waterhouse about this new ambition of mine to direct this dreamy and eerie short I’d written and she said, “Let’s do it!”

 

And Sean Penn ended up having a cameo, right?

I am very grateful for his support for young artists and for visiting the set that day. I was in the middle of directing a scene and I could feel his presence. When I finished the scene he came over and introduced himself. He asked, “You’ve been directing for a while?” And I told him that it was actually my first film. He said that I reminded him of himself when he directs. During that morning I built up enough confidence to go up to him and ask if he’d like to be in one of the scenes. He said that it’d be his pleasure. I had to come up with a scene on the spot, which ended up being between him, myself and Suki. Sean ended up tying the story together well, especially for establishing one half of the metaphorical yin and yang / man and woman.

 

What an incredible experience for your first film!

Thank you. That’s how I learned everything — while working on my first surrealist films. I’m a self-taught director and writer and I don’t think school is always necessary for these positions. It’s about your heart, passion, persistence and especially hard work — and what you want to tell to the world. If you believe you can do it, then you can. And nobody can tell you otherwise.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a couple of films. In June, I’m about to direct my new short named “Maestro.” It’s going to be the most character- and dialogue-driven one so far. Starring the wonderful Clara McGregor and incredible theater and film actor Karel Dobry, who just won a Czech Lion. Plus some exciting cameo roles. It’s a very personal story for both my father and me, and I’ve been wanting to tell this story in the short term for a while. It’s much to look forward to and we are filming at the legendary Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. And at the beginning of 2020, I’m going to begin shooting my first feature film, “Mantis.” It’s a female-genre film — very Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” “Black Swan” meets “Carrie.”

What did you mean earlier when you said you wanted to fight for things?

I’m a strong believer in self-sacrifice and all my life, I’ve fought for the things that I have. I fought for my vision, my ideas and the films that I’ve made. I bring on excellent people that I trust and we work together as a unit. I’m the captain, but without the crew, one couldn’t possibly drive the ship. It’s a beautiful collaboration between the actors, the crew and myself. And how beautiful is it when you create something that didn’t exist before?


 

What’s it like being a female director in Los Angeles?

It’s been wonderful. I couldn’t be happier being a woman in these times. However, when you’re starting to get an outcome from your work, people could try to sabotage it in some ways so it’s good to always be careful of the people you surround yourself with. My grandpa used to tell me not to trust anyone. In the beginning, I trusted; that’s just my personality. But I’ve learned over the past few years that I can trust the people around me, but not everyone outside. Being a female artist brings a lot of advantages in 2019 and we’re still fighting for some things, but we’ve created a revolution! And all the revolutions have to be a little bloody sometimes, you know?

 

Oh yes, I know.

We have to be radical for it to have any impact. And it’s also about how you portray yourself to others. I locked myself in for a year and did nothing but read about films, watch films, and so on. I showed myself in a new light. Now people don’t even think of me as an actor or a model anymore. It’s very clear to me that I was meant to do what I’m doing and since I’ve been directing, I feel fully comfortable in my skin. I always tell young women to listen to their inner voices and dreams — don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, we can do wherever we want!