Seleckis’ Method

− Observational cinema. That is our genre. We take our time exploring it. We create a poem basically. There are no events to be missed. One has to put oneself into the shoes of the person to be filmed in terms of their spiritual state. We are living and we have a camera with us. Camera and time. We look closely.

− If you climb into a fisherman’s boat and begin to mess around, then you become unpleasant to him and you will not be able to make any contact. You have to discuss, enter their lives, agree that: you will do your job, we will do ours, drink your vodka, we will not touch your vodka… And eventually they get so used to it that when we are done, they look for us saying: where did those camera guys go? There’s no one to talk to anymore, it’s boring.

− The picture has to depict what cannot be told. A picture is a text too. Except that it comes through one’s eyes to one’s head and one does not have to listen to anything. Visual capacity of the picture should be sufficient to ensure that there is no need to speak.

− But! If one does speak, it does not matter whether one is sitting, standing or walking. If one has something to say and one says it, then that is the most important thing.

− One has to get rid of any well–written scripts with beautiful dialogues in the documentary filmmaking right away! Because nothing good will come out of it. As they used to say at the age of silent films: real script can be written on one cuff. Everything else is questionable. As soon as it is written, it is already obsolete.

− Experience means that you know how to turn on the camera before anything has happened. It is an intuition. It is a gift of God. When nothing has happened yet but you can feel that something is coming, you click and there it is.

− Originality also stems from the lack of information. Now with all the workshops and consultants we imitate what has already happened in Europe. But back then we did not know how others worked and we made films naturally. Problems had to be solved and we solved them. The way we knew how back then and the way the circumstances allowed us to – the political doctrine at the time, our technical ability… When there are limitations one is forced to think differently. If seemingly unrealistic tasks are set, very interesting moments result from it. 

However, if you know everything, there will be no peculiar solutions in your films. those who know how to make films cannot seem to be able to make them for some reason. An old wisdom: those who know how to make films – read lectures and those who do not – make films.

No one knows how the film will end at the beginning. And the ending is the most important part because people always manage to forget the beginning. No one will be able to tell you how the film began, therefore, the ending is the most important thing.

− In documentary filmmaking cameraman is an author too. He has to have his own opinion and understanding. He has to be told in the beginning what needs to be done roughly and then he can think how he will do it. And never disturb the cameraman. The best thing is to be the cameraman of your own film, of course.

− There is calendar time, film time, and inner time. They often contradict one another. Each character we have filmed exists in their own film time. It can appear, it can disappear, and it can be transformed in different ways. But what I can say about myself is that my inner time does not match the calendar time at all. Let the calendar time tick away, it does not bother me. It is only the inner time that interests me.

− What has not been recorded (read: documented), has not happened and it has been like that for hundreds of years.

− Image never grows old. Cinematographers are very well aware of that and therefore, good films usually have no text at all. But if you need a commentary to compress time, you will not do without a text but keep in mind that text is the first thing that will age.

− We cannot be responsible for the associations in your head.

From Kristīne Briede conversations with Ivars Seleckis 2015–2017 

Ivars Seleckis during the shoot of “The Grooves” (1973). Photo: Voldemārs Jemeļjanovs

Ivars Seleckis. Still from “Bridges of Time" (2018)