Writer and Director Jaroslaw Gogolin on “Superior Being – Smokeless Fire”

Jaroslaw Gogolin, Writer/Director

Jaroslaw Gogolin (writer/director) started his film adventure eight years ago as a 42-year-old. Today, his productions win awards at festivals, are appreciated by critics and viewers. Every day he is an electrician. He runs his own small business, which allows for flexible time management, thanks to which his professional career can be reconciled with film passion. He dreams of the day when he will be able to devote himself 100%. Each new project is a good opportunity to polish up an artistic workshop. He learns from mistakes, draws conclusions and gains experience. He finds a lot of inspiration in interviews with recognized directors, cameramen and screenwriters.

At the start he joined the group “Let’s Make a Scene”, which deals in making short etudes, bringing together beginners and those with more experience, whose common denominator was the desire to develop as operators, directors, actors. He has written eight feature screenplays so far, the last one (Black Forest Mystery – fantasy) during the Nostos Screenwriters’ retreat in Tuscany Sep./Oct. 2021.

NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?

It is a great distinction and an honor to be among many talented screenwriters from around the world. For me it is quite a distinction, especially that the English language is not my native language.  Each distinction, each selection or award is a great joy for me. At least for me personally, it is confirmation that I am on the right track in sory telling.

For me, personally writing a story or filming a movie is an artistic, spiritual event, certainly for most filmmakers. I don’t think there were many actors, writers, directors, and cameramen who would be passionate about film for money.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?

“Superior Being – Smokeless Fire” (3rd Part of Superior Being sequence) is supernatural, mystery thriller.

Place and time – Polish Army contingent in Afghanistan around 2014.

Despite the fact that the action takes place in Afghanistan during the NATO intervention, military events are only the background for history. The main light is on the characters and the events associated with them.

This is a supernatural thriller, when it comes to the atmosphere of the story, it is mainly the slowly revealing secret of the main characters and the mystery of their surroundings, the closest references would be films such as X-file or Twean Peaks, but olny close not the same.

The entire series “Superior Being” is a supernatural world blending with our world, explaining the tales, myths and legends that are on a collision course with our real world, often in conflict with “common sense” (?)

NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?

I paint a little. I have always been fascinated by surrealism, and my greatest painter is Zdzisław Beksinki, unfortunately he died tragically.

NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?

My first feature script is “Copland – In self defence” with which I was frist time awarded at a film festival in India ( in total I had 26 selection and awards) This is a crime drama set against the background of a contemporary city. Mark heads up a team of detectives who are investigating a series of terrorist incidents. However, Mark has inner demons he constantly fights. The challenges he and his team face lead him to revise his attitude on life and by the climax of the story, he feels a changed and better man.

Then the Superior Being series began:

Superior Being: Awakening (24 selection and awards) –

Nowadays in Poland. A small, quiet town and a small police station – nothing seems to have changed, but recent events have destroyed this heavenly peace. Ed, a policeman and hiscolleague Mark had to face a new reality, a mysterious figure named Adam. A character belonging more to old legends, myths and horrible tales from the distant past than to modern reality…

Superior Being: Axis Mundi (17 selection and awards) –

….finally everything seems to be taken care of and sorted out…until now…because a mysterious murder takes place.. Mark and Ed are involve in the investigation, new strange characters turning up…who is behind the murder? So many suspects.

Superior Being: Smokeless Fire (which is the finalist at the ISC festival)

Superior Being: Star dust

Superior Being: She-Who-Knows ( so far 9 selection and awards of 14 to be sent).

Light Years – Sci Fi feature script; the most succesful so far (taking in consideration the number festivals it was sent).

My last screenplay “Black Forest Mystery” written during the Nostos Screenwriting Retreat in Sep/Oct 2021 in Tuscany is fantasy world.

NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?

As an amateur filmmaker (I have never graduated from any film school or even a film course) I always look to the future, rarely behind myself. I gain experience with every project and keep going. I do not focus on the past, I do not re-edit, I do not correct old mistakes but and I keep going.

What is in front is too fascinating to focus on the past. Lessons from my  mistakes are remembered and preserved, lessons learned, this knowledge will be useful in new projects.

One of my screenplay “Light Years” was awarded with the opportunity for me to go to Nostos Screenwriting Retreat to Tuscany for three weeks.

The three-week stay at the turn of September and October 2021 was of great importance to me. It was not only an award for the script but, and perhaps most of all, an opportunity to meet talented writers from all over the world. This meeting and collaborative work is definitely a milestone for me as a filmmaker.

Besides, I’m happy that the footage for “Lost Dolls” have been finalized. Now it’s time to edit.

NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?

All the stories, I have written so far, the concern , focus is the interaction of the material and supernatural worlds. This topic has always fascinated me, which is why these types of stories develop in my mind, or rather, I would have to say, appear in my mind.

NY Elite: As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

It is a long story :). It will probably sound a little weird (though some writers knows what I am talking about) but I don’t create characters or stories, I watch them revealing themselves.

It is still a great mystery for me HOW it happens.

I can navigate in this process of revealing, I know what helps and what is harmful to move through, but still the source of all these stories is unknown to me. Perhaps I will get to know this source one day.

I know how to use this source and I can do it better and more effectively with each subsequent screenplay. It is like driving a car, you don’t have to know how engine, gear box, electric work but you can still drive it.

It seems to me that there are at least three main ways of writing, the first one I call “recycling” (you will base on stories already written earlier, an important element here is sticking, focusing on templates), the second method is to use your imagination (that includes knowledge, skills, etc.), the last method is to let the story and characters unfold by themselves, without a writer’s intervention – by revelation itself.

I wouldn’t want to get too deep into the subject because it would take too long.

So I cannot say “I build the character or events” all those are reveals themselves to me when I am in the right state – readiness to listen. I know it might sound crazy but this is how it works…and I know I am not the only one working this way.

Writing the script takes me little time, about a week of intensive work, but before that I have the whole story in my head. Refining the details takes several months, during which I let stories unfold, show images, scenes, interactions between characters.

It all starts with a single image, event, scene and I have no more information about what will happen next. The picture can be seen from the outside (painting, photo etc.) or the picture or scene only appears in the mind, I call it the process of “sowing”, “planting”, then there is the process of “incubation”, “growth” individual elements of the story emerge, more and more more details are revealed. Music is an important element both in the process of “seeding” and “incubation”.

The process of “incubation” of history, in my case, lasts from a few months to even a year … it took a year the longest. Then the story is complete and I can sit down to write, this element (of physical writing) is the least pleasant for me.

All starts with a single picture and when everything is crystallized thoroughly. I keep saying: “I am just the first one who watched THE story…then I write it down”.

It’s like reading a really addictive book, or watching an interesting movie for the first time, the same impression I get when the story and characters emerge as if out of a fog.

Of course, I can create stories using my imagination, and I have to admit that my imagination is quite vivid, but it is more fun to rely on the “method” of revealing a story or characters. I prefer to go to the “library” or “cinema” and be seduced by what she receives, rather than rely on my own imagination.

In conclusion, I would only add that the last method gives the most joy, during this process of revealing the story and characters, I am constantly surprised … this cannot be compared with the satisfaction of using “only” your own imagination in creating.

NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?

Between successive waves of the pandemic, together with Magda Kowalczyk (cinematographer), we managed to record my next film “Lost Dolls”, a feature film in which the main roles, and actually the only ones, are played by porcelain dolls. Now it’s time to edit the material.

Also I’ve just finished work on my newest script, “Black Forest Mystery” – a fantasy story. Apart from that, new stories have been developing  in my head. Some of them are a continuation of the stories I wrote earlier.

NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking?

That never is too late to live a creative way. Follow other filmmakers’ advices given in so many interviews. I have been doing this from the start. Make films, write scripts,  learn of your mistakes – failures and mistakes are more valuable than successes – Never give up!

I have found a lot of information, very useful to me, in many interviews with recognized directors, cameramen and screenwriters, mostly via You Tube channel, programs like “The Hollywood Reporter Roundtable”, “Directors Guild of America” and from many others interviews.

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