Producer of Slovak TV show Dunaj: The most difficult part of my job is making the right decisions

Producer of Slovak TV show Dunaj: The most difficult part of my job is making the right decisions

Starting as a director of photography and now working as the creative producer of the Dunaj series, Peter Kelíšek visited students at the CME Content Academy on Thursday. He spoke about the role of a producer and the processes of decision-making. One of his tips for students was how to make if the audience feel the proper emotion: "If you can make yourself cry while working on it, it probably works." Kelíšek also uses his experience in cinematography in his role as a producer, that is key in decisions like using natural light during the filming of Dunaj.

During his lecture, Kelíšek primarily discussed working on the Dunaj series. Producing a historical drama set in the late 1930s, according to him, is a highly complex task. "People often criticize that the series is not historically accurate. I always respond, though, if it serves the story, it's essential to prioritize fiction over historical precision," he explained. 

He showed students the studio plan where most interior scenes seen in the series are filmed. The producer explained that there's a limit of ten exteriors per episode, while the rest must be shot in the studio. "One episode can be filmed in about three and a half days," he added. 

Discussing interior blocking, Peter Kelíšek emphasized the importance of considering various factors when shooting a historical drama. According to him, every creator faces the decision: whether to shoot in the studio with artificial lighting or utilize natural light. Kelíšek emphasised the necessity to balance budget and the quality of the visual result. Referring his previous experience with the Sisters series, where he worked as the main cameraman, he chose to use natural lighting. "Originally, I worked as a DOP, so I thought about the visual concept of the series. For me, it was crucial to use daylight because my aim is the series to look as natural as possible," the producer explained. 

The most challenging aspect of the producer's job is decision-making. "It's about making a decision and making it right. Every wrong decision means a financial loss. It's also crucial that you have knowledge of every profession because I approve all aspects, scenes or the music. My job also requires the ability to communicate with the composer," Kelíšek emphasized. 

Students were interested in costume design, and the discussion with the producer also covered impressions of watching Dunaj and comparing the Czech and Slovak versions. 

Kelíšek highlighted that, thanks to collaboration with Alexandra Dubovská, production director of TV Markíza, and Evita Twardzik, the head of development, decision-making mechanisms are well-tuned. Kelíšek has been working with both women for six years. 

The producer also emphasized the importance of following his intuition in the creative process. "I must understand the viewer's perception. I must understand what the viewer should feel. If you can make yourself cry while working on it, it probably works," he advised the students. 

-Matěj Škop-