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"We want to become a relevant and reliable partner in international projects. Slovenian actors are great, well trained, good with languages (most of our members speak at least three foreign languages), and they have a specific charm – they show strict discipline on the one hand and have a Balkan appeal and feel to their work on the other. "

Jurij Drevenšek, Actors Guild of Slovenia / Actor

Photo: Željko Stevanić

Jurij Drevenšek

How did you develop the concept for the new Actors Guild of Slovenia?

The concept is based on five principal levels — fighting for actors’ rights that Slovenia has not yet acknowledged, representing all professional actors who work in film or TV, providing help in legal matters, organizing workshops and education seminars for our members and helping them with the audition process, and last but not least, presenting our members in a professional way to domestic and foreign casting directors, producers, directors and casting platforms.

We tend to be more flexible than other similar organizations and wish to help our members with every question or dilemma they might encounter and try to find the best possible solution. 

e-TALENTA has created a selection of interesting profiles of Slovenian DSI-members for you:

Are there any specific requirements for actors and actresses who want to join the guild?

Yes, we have decided that only professional actors can join the guild, but the conditions are not strict because we want to gain as many members as possible. Actors and actresses who have finished the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television or other similar educational programs will be granted membership if they apply. However, there are some other requirements they have to meet: a main role in a feature/TV film, or two supporting roles in a feature, or a main role in a series/sit-com, or three supporting roles in other television productions, or a main role in two short films. But even if they do not fulfil these conditions, they can still join the guild as long as they are active professional actors in other fields

What were some of the challenges/rewards of creating a new organisation?

A huge challenge was how to get the guild started and how to make it function. All of us who started the guild and run it are volunteers and at the same time busy and active professionals working on numerous projects. At the moment we still don't have any administrative help — that would mean a full-time job for a single person but we are sure we are going to find sookmeone willing to do it, eventually.

The next challenge was how to get the future and potential members to apply for the  membership and join the guild, because we have never had such an organization in Slovenia. We had to explain to each and every one of them why we are doing this and what do we stand for. With time it got a lot easier because the members started talking among themselves and sharing good experiences they had with the guild. For example, we organized a successful workshop with e-TALENTA, provided free tickets for film festivals in Slovenia, held more social events where they could meet directors, producers, etc.

In Slovenia there are about 400 professional actors and actresses and I guess we did a pretty good job, considering the fact that the guild at moment has 250 members compared to only 15 members a year ago. But I have to say the biggest reward for us is that we have succeeded in making a very colourful guild where members fully support each other regardless of their background, status in the cultural sphere or their work status (employed, freelancers, students). 

What is the general feedback from other actors/actresses?

It is constructive and positive. They see we are trying hard to break through to international markets where our country has not been very much present until now, with the exception of a few individuals. They also like that the guild offers a platform where they can express their views on issues relating to our business and give some ideas on how to approach different topics. They also appreciate the fact that the board deals with difficult topics such as copyright and rights for those who are self-employed. 

What professional training is there available for actors/actresses in Slovenia?

There’s the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) that teaches basic film acting, but the guild wishes to deepen this knowledge and show our members the importance of new technologies and new ways castings take place nowadays, such as self-tape e-castings, the importance of about-me-videos, how to make a show reel, how to get good headshots, how to write a proper CV, the importance of being present on the Internet, etc. This is also the reason why the guild is trying to organize workshops for our members, especially those who are younger and with fewer experiences.

Is there a distinction between theatre and screen acting?

Of course. It is the same sport, but a different style. The same as with skiing – there is downhill on the one side and giant slalom on the other (not implying which is which though).

What is the current structure of the film industry in Slovenia?

The current situation looks pretty strange due to the coronavirus. We do not know how we are going to proceed at the moment. But the Actors Guild of Slovenia is also the biggest member of the Association of Slovenian Filmmakers which includes the Directors Guild of Slovenia, two associations of Slovenian film producers, a post-production association, the Slovene Association of Cinematographers and the Slovene Animated Film Association.

We have arranged some joint meetings in order to organize ourselves and take concrete action with the Slovenian Film Fund with regard to the current situation. Otherwise we shoot about eight feature films a year, three to four series and a few short films. Our (film) industry is very small and therefore we do not have casting directors or agents in Slovenia. Everybody knows everybody. You get booked directly by a producer or a director and auditions are also rare. This is why the Actors Guild of Slovenia is constantly urging other guilds and associations to prepare more auditions and encouraging our members to make as many e-castings as possible to get the necessary experiences for the auditions.

What do you hope to achieve at an international level with the guild?

We want to become a relevant and reliable partner in international projects. Slovenian actors are great, well trained, good with languages (most of our members speak at least three foreign languages), and they have a specific charm – they show strict discipline on the one hand and have a Balkan appeal and feel to their work on the other. We also want to break the stereotypes that Slavic actors in foreign films can only play mafia guys, criminals or soldiers and actresses only prostitutes, war victims and cleaning ladies. 

How important is it for the guild to have an international outlook/presence? Many Slovenians speak other languages, is this taken into account in the guild?

Yes, as I mentioned before, we all speak more languages. English is taught in schools, German is also quite popular - many people from the north and the east speak it, the entire western part of the country speaks Italian, and the far northeast speaks Hungarian. At the same time, because of our history, we all speak and understand Croatian-Bosnian-Serbian.

For the guild it is very important to have an international side, because we live in such a globalised world that being on an isolated island all alone is not the right path to develop and prosper. We think we can contribute a lot to the European film market and industry. We are ready, the real question is if Europe is ready for us.