Interview with director Diana Frankovic (THE SAD MONK)

Diana Frankovic’s short film played at the March 2017 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

So a couple of years ago I took a sabbatical from my job.

Actually, I’m a radio host from Berlin. I was exhausted, burned out and unhappy. I had to get away from it all, and find a way to change that, to be truly happy. So I packed my suitcase and began traveling through Asia, and finally Nepal, where I spent months meditating, exploring and visiting monasteries, and THIS is where I met Tenzin. An amazing Tibetan Buddhist monk.

Spending time together we realized we had so many things in common, like dreams and desires, like love and sex, also tenderness for friends and family. But what I was really astonished to discover was that we also share an attachment to material things!

I would have never expected a real Buddhist to also be seeking satisfaction in the latest iphone!

The other thing we have in common is, actually, sadness.

Both of us realized we just wanted to be happy, but in a way, we didn’t know how.

And as a journalist… I wanted, I needed to tell Tenzin’s story. The whole world seems to be looking for the perfect solution to the problem of happiness. Even my new friend, a Tibetan Buddhist monk was obsessed with finding it. This is a story I wanted to tell. So I decided to make a film about The Sad Monk.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

2 ½ years, with all the ups and downs.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Just amazing.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

I wrote a script and started looking for a production company, which I found.

I just had to make a few changes. But the changes were non–stop,
the script, the trailer, just everything. Suddenly my producers wanted me to make the story about myself and my feel-good journey to happiness, which was never ever my intention. And after a year together, I had made so many changes to my film,
compromised the story completely, that my vision of Tenzin was gone, the story of the sad monk was buried. Of course when it came time for my producers to pitch the film to TV-Stations, they failed. And when they failed, they dropped me. I was devastated.

I spent so much time and all of my money to get this far, and suddenly it was over.

I hit rock bottom. So I did the same thing I did two years ago: I packed my suitcase and started travelling again. To find new inspiration and strength. But I also found motivation and support. I realized I still had to tell Tenzin’s story. I just took a different path to get there. I started a kickstarter campaign which I succesfully finished, I reached my goal and then I produced the movie completely by myself, without a
prodc ution company. The way I wanted tob e my mvie. And that was just the right way to do it.

What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was very interesting to hear some thoughts about it, I was happy taht that people liked it!

WATCH the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I just happend. It was process and I let my creativity and imagination flow.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Actually it’s Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Life of Brian. Haha

What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I can’t list them, they are countless… Too many oft hem. They also change from period to period in my life.

What is next for you? A new film?

I hope! 😉


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


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