Interview with Drago Lazetich
One of the most respected Western filmmakers in the Chinese market…For the last seven years he has been working in Mainland China .
Drago Lazetich has over 20 years of experience in production and the entertainment field. From owning a Café House performance Space (age 22 at the time ) where well-known artists performed in Sacramento, California, to being a Stage director /Fight Director and Cast Member at the World Famous Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ International Tour to studying Filmmaking at UCLA interning at Roger Corman’s school of practical reality filmmaking at Concorde pictures.
Director and Producer showcasing and developing products images for multinational companies. Directing a Reality TV show Chinese version of the Amazing Race throughout mainland China (GM 2030 go) for Dragon TV broadcasting throughout China.
He holds the honor of having the #1 most downloaded mock-up movie trailer “Speedball” (2000) on Reelplay.com Truly a pioneer of viral video. He is devoted to quality filmmaking and has developed strong relationships with professionals both in China and the US.
Developing projects as a writer-director-Actor for Wise Hit (comedy, martial art. Web series) Son Rise (feature-length contemporary thriller), He has also been a costarring actor in many Chinese productions.
Drago’s entrepreneurial skills, as the owner of a cultural center for performance area/art gallery café (featuring emerging artists such as Cake, Mark Curry, and Papa Culture), allowed him to be him to be instrumental in assisting struggling artists to achieve prominent success in their respective entertainment fields.
Drago’s professionalism is a highly sought commodity; from his mentally preparing for a scene to executing the motion and ability to communicate the feeling that is given in a moment of action. He is a true believer of the style (that actors have no shame) to be truthful in the moment; to hide nothing, when exposing oneself to the art of filmmaking . An actor’s director
Drago, it is a pleasure to meet you. Tell us a little about yourself and where you grew up.
I was born in a country that was once called Yugoslavia. We moved away when I was three lived in Germany, Canada and settled in northern California and then I went by myself to Los Angeles to study filmmaking. But it was very difficult to get ahead in the film industry without the right connections I had a difficult time in kissing ass. So I survived, by teaching martial art at Gold’s gym in Venice Beach California. I can go on and on talking about myself and my life But that’s not my style. Nevertheless
In a nutshell I am a all around good guy that’s what my mom told me.
Chess player .
paintball player .
born with a great sense of humor
After studying and living in LA what brought you to China?
The opportunity to work and grow as a filmmaker in the industry. For the past eight years, all I did is film and nothing else. I have costarred over 50 films in China plus I opened a independent production house called Lemontree productions www.LemonTreefilm.com. I have produced and directed industrial commercials, music videos and reality shows. I have learned and grew a lot not only as a filmmaker, but as a person.
How easy/hard has it been to adjust to life and what are the differences in the film/video production community in Shanghai vs. the US?
I think because we moved a lot when I was a child. I’m able to adjust to any situation or environment. The difference between US and Chinese film productions are as follow. In China I have yet to see a storyboard in any feature-length film production. The director normally doesn’t talk to the actors much so there’s not that much guidance, craft service table is nonexistent. Safety is a issue, but as a filmmaker I have learned so much. (I realize there is no problems only solutions. I am able to adopt Western and Eastern ways of working on a film set). I have worked on more films than most of my filmmakers friends back in Los Angeles, which helped me to think on my feet and to have the shots and the scenes playing in my head in high-definition.
You have had great success in the past with your mockup trailer Give us a little background on it and why do you think it garnered so much critical acclaim?
I hold the honor of having the #1 most downloaded mockup movie trailer “Speedball” (2000) on Reelplay.com http://www.netribution.co.uk/
Your latest project is the web series, “Wise Hit”.(Which you are the writer, director, editor and actor ) Why did you choose to showcase it on the web?
I got tired off pitching screenplays, and I want to get involved with new media Haven’t seen it yet, take a hit of Wise Hit http://www.koldcast.tv/show/
Tell us a little about the storyline and characters in “Wise Hit”
Bruce Lee and Mel Brooks took on pulp fiction in contemporary Shanghai. Comedy has never been this dangerous!
I really want to do something that I can have fun with, which would involves comedy and martial art. I had no choice but to cast myself as the lead because I knew that I will be on the film set every time. It’s about a hit man called Wiseguy, who quit his job he found out that he has a sensitive side and he wants to open up a matchmaking agency back in the states. His boss not too happy about his decision and wiseguy’s insults So he sends out gangsters to do wiseguy in. But before he leaves Shanghai He has to pick up one last package somewhere in the city from a unknown client. Throughout his journey looking for the package he meets strange and interesting characters , which include gangsters, vampires, space aliens and wacky scientist. It’s really quite wacky and original. But it has been very successful. Recently Over 27,000 hits per day on koldcast.tv! My plan is to make it into a television series and a feature film in the future.
What is your creative process for writing and producing “Wise Hit”?
Mostly but not always I would write with the actor who is playing in the scene, when the script is done we get everyone together, (this is a filmmaker alliance gathering, meaning filmmakers helping filmmakers.) To start shooting and I would do the editing.
As a storyteller and Filmmaker, who has inspired you?
Peter Weir, Mel Brooks , Stephen Spielberg, Bruce Lee, Charlie Chaplin, Quentin Tarantino, just to name a few
What is the film and television production community like in China? Is it easy or difficult to find crew and talent for your productions? Why did you choose to shoot in english?
There are different levels of professionalism in China. This includes the foreigners and the locals. It is quite difficult to find the right team. You can’t imagine how many times I have met people that want to produce, but have no clue when it comes to actually producing. They just love the title producer. I choose to shoot in English, because I am more comfortable writing comedy in English also I am a big fan of American comedy but we will add more Chinese dialogue in the future episodes.
Your production company, Lemon Tree Productions, provides full featured production services in Shanghai. What have been some of your past productions you are most proud of?
As a director, I have done a reality TV show for Dragon TV. Similar to Amazing Race. I got to travel throughout mainland China, which was quite exciting. We did a lot of industrial /commercial videos. Also there was a charity video I did for Ogilvy, which was very special to me about the struggle of single mothers in rural China. Recently I have been directing a lot of new media and music videos. http://www.mediamobz.com/
One of your goals is to produce a martial arts film in the style of the Hong Kong features you are fond of. What are your plans for this project?
I have a feature-length film script called Son Rise, with a UFC fighter attached to it by name of Machida. I wanted to do a film that is similar to Sonny Chiba old school film called Street fighter when it comes to the fight sequences. This film has nothing to do with revenge or any other typical martial art plot films. It is a unique approach to the genre of martial art films. A father and son warped journey. Similar to “No Country for Old Men” with animation dream sequences.
Where do you hope to see yourself personally and professionally in the future?
To find my significant other, HAHA, and to do more bigger pictures here in China and back in Los Angeles. Not only as a director but as an actor.
Where can we go to find out more about you and keep updated on your work?
I am very warm and open person. People can always get in touch with me through my e-mail Lemontreeproduction@Gmail.com or connect with me on Facebook.