Living a Moment in Front of a Lens. Interview with Actor, Luka Dimic.
By Ewan Waddell

Living a Moment in Front of a Lens. Interview with Actor, Luka Dimic.

This week we're excited to welcome our first actor to the HUNDHUND Stories series. After escaping the Yugoslavian war as a child, Luka Dimic grew up in Germany, discovering his identity as a performer whilst studying in Berlin. Dimic then spent several years in the theatre between Bern and Vienna before making the leap to film and co-starring in the newly released, award-winning Eismayer (2022) — a true-based film about a queer love story in the Austrian army.

I had the pleasure of experiencing Eismayer on the big screen on its opening night in Berlin before meeting Luka at our studio the next day for an enlightening chat about his artistic process, the nuances of stage versus screen acting, and the experience of meeting the real-life inspirations behind the characters.

We promise this isn't an advert, but we do recommend the film highly :-)

I was first interested to hear of when Luka was initially exposed to the idea of performance.

"I started very early. What I really loved is that it's like telling a story. And I'm not so good in telling a story —  I always lose myself because I have too many thoughts. But when I have a screenplay it's like, 'Ok, this is the story', and the lines help me find the structure. So I found my way to tell stories."

He then told of his relationship to film during his childhood years.

"I was always fascinated when we would watch TV or movies; how everybody was silent and giving their focus; how it would make everybody emotional in the room; how it would make [them] cry. That's what I liked about it — reaching people."

"In Croatia we lived next to a puppet theatre and I was completely fascinated. Then, when we came to Germany we were in a very small village and I didn't speak any German — so it was very hard. But my parents bought me a small [puppet] theatre, so on all the birthday parties, my parents put all the children in a room and I would perform."

I wondered how his interest for movies and theatre developed after moving to Germany.

"I lost it. My parents used to work a lot so my brother and me were at home and watched a lot of trash TV. A lot of bullshit. But then I moved out very early, at seventeen, and met some people who went to the theatre and [the interest] started again. Then I saw a play which was very emotional and I said 'Ok, I want to study this'. I didn't even know you could study acting."

"I went to Berlin [to study] and it was actually the only school who did both camera acting and stage acting, because most of the schools focused on stage. But after I finished my studies in acting, I wanted to have the experience of theatre; to practice and learn. And I liked it."

"I started in Vienna and I was there for two years, and then I went to Bern in Switzerland. But the problem with theatre is that if you're not working as a freelancer, you're always just [there] until your contract ends. And then you have to move on and on and on, and I didn't want to do this anymore — hopping from city to city. So I wanted to do a movie."

"But, if you want to jump from theatre to movies it's very complicated — you're not known so it's hard to get that first chance; that first role when somebody trusts you. [Eismayer] was really like that."

Eismayer (2022). Dir. David Wagner. Golden Girls Filmproduktion, Loco Films.

Luka then told me the essence of the film.

"It's a true-based love story between a Sargeant in the Austrian army — [Charles Eismayer played by Gerhard Liebmann] who was gay but was in the closet — and an openly gay soldier who joins the army [Mario Falak played by Luka]. And then [Eismayer] confesses that he's gay and leaves his wife. So it's about being brave to be who you are."

"[Eismayer] was already very famous in Austria because he's a very tough guy and everyone who went to the military knew about him — but now he's even more famous since the movie. The director went to the Austrian military and didn't serve under Eismayer, but heard many stories about him. Then, once he read in the newspaper that Eismayer married [Mario Falak], the idea for the film came."

Eismayer premiere. Venice Film Festival, 2022. Credit: Alec Michael.

I asked Luka what it was like to meet the real Mario Falak and Charles Eismayer.

"In the beginning I didn't know if I wanted to meet [Mario] because when I read the script I had an imagination of the character — how he should look or behave and what kind of guy he is — and I was afraid if I meet the original one it would destroy my illusion of the character."

"But then they invited us to their house in Hungary and we went there for a weekend with the other main actor and the director, and it was actually very helpful to meet them. It was helpful to understand how they communicate and how they are together. Because they have the military stuff, but then they also have the other side when they are really human and they like gardening and things like that."

Eismayer (2022). Dir. David Wagner. Golden Girls Filmproduktion, Loco Films.

We then talked of Luka's preparation for Eismayer. I wondered if he went through any army training.

"We had the opportunity to go for like three weeks. I was with Gerhard for like five days and I went a week later to practice — and then the last week I went for five days with all the other young soldiers so that we could already get to know each other."

I was curious if Luka had any relationship to the military or mandatory service before this film.

"I'm half Serbian, half Croatian and we came after the war as refugees to Germany, so I didn't go to the [German] army. But, I was always afraid that I'd have to go to the Croatian army and they were gonna ask me where my Father's from and I'd have to say Serbian — this was a nightmare for me. I was so happy when they said that Croatians who live in Germany don't have to go [to the army] anymore. I was celebrating."

"I watched many YouTube videos to see how soldiers behaved — because this was a completely unknown thing for me. Like, I was in Yugoslavia during the war so I know the soldiers from another side, I guess, as a danger."

"When you're at training you don't feel like a war could happen. Everything was fun so I was seeing it as more of a game than a serious situation. But the sad thing about it is that with the war in Ukraine, you see that it's not a game."

I wondered how Luka's stage background affected his process for Eismayer.

"On stage you have to perform with a loud voice and to speak very proper and everything — but when I came to the [Eismayer] set I had to reduce everything. This was really a challenge for me."

Luka then told me about the film's premiere at the iconic Venice Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prize International Critics Week for Best Film.

"After the movie, everybody stood up and were applauding and everything — Mario and Charles were so touched by the audience that they started crying."

I wondered what kind of character Mario Falak was to embody.

"He was a fun character. But it was also hard because the film is the story of Charles Eismayer told from beginning til end, and [his character] is developing, but mine isn't. [Mario] comes into the story and he's openly gay, and the only issue he has is that Eismayer doesn't want to be openly gay. There is no explanation why I go to the army, why I love him, about my family, you know? So it was a challenge to create a character which is not explained, but that the audience sees his story."

Eismayer (2022). Dir. David Wagner. Golden Girls Filmproduktion, Loco Films.

We then talked about the much slower nature of film releasing in comparison to the immediacy of theatre.

"That's what I like about doing a movie. You have the preparation but you don't know what's gonna happen — if the magic is gonna happen. Then you work on it, you leave it, and then a year after, you see the process. This is what I really like. It's like you build something, then you have a distance. Sometimes it's painful to watch because I think, 'Oh shit, I should've done this different', but it's also nice that you can't change anything. It's just there."

Like when you finally receive your prints back from a disposable camera.

"Yeah. Exactly like this."

As a parting question, I asked Luka what it's like to perform without an audience.

"I like the audience because sometimes it gives you so much energy. But then there are also days where I see that everybody's bored, and I think, 'Ok I'm gonna talk fast and finish this'. But I like that you always feel the energy and it's a dialogue. But then, in front of the camera, you have this intimacy with your [scene] partner, and you don't have to care about an audience — you just play for yourself. This is also very nice. It's like being a kid when you just play and you don't care about others; you're just in the moment."

Thank you to Luka. You can find his links below, and see here to find screenings of Eismayer near you.

Instagram -- Agency -- Eismayer Film.

Words and portraits by Ewan Waddell.


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