// you’re reading...


Michael Krivicka talks about his documentary Subway Melodies – Page 2

Leaving Slovakia for Germany and then the United States...

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you talk a bit about your background in Europe? I understand your father was an actor in Slovakia.
MICHAEL KRIVICKA: My dad studied acting in Bratislava (today’s capital of Slovakia) and started professional acting on stage in Trnava (the city I was born in).
He then continued acting in film and television and I was too little to understand what all that meant back then. I was just happy to see my dad on Sunday morning children’s shows on TV, and all my friends were jealous when my parents had big name actors over for dinner or lunch on weekends.
My dad was quite the guy back in the early 80s. His career was on the rise and we had a great house with a great dog a nice car. Life was good.
One summer night in 1986 my parents woke me and my sister up and told us that were going on vacation to Germany.
Without asking any questions and filled with excitement we left in the middle of the night.
The car was packed, and the ride through the Czech part of the country (back then it was Czechoslovakia) was long. We spent the night in the car parked in the woods. We entered Germany the following day and met up with some relatives of my mom who had escaped to Germany years before.
We stayed with them for a few days and then our parents asked us the big question: “Do you (me and my sister) want to stay and live in Germany?”.
That was the point when it all became clear to me. I was 10 and my sister was 8, the perfect age to pick up a second language for a kid.
My parents didn’t tell anyone in the family, not even close friends, about the move, probably because they would try to hold us back.
They had also made secret arrangements to have valuable things, like furniture and electronic equipment, which were left in the house, fairly distributed amongst family members…. It was all a long thought-out plan, and it worked.

We applied for asylum, were situated in an immigration camp until we got notice of where we were going to be moved to start a new life.
Me and my sister entered school immediately, and picked up the German language in a few months.
We made friends, our parents got jobs, and soon we were able to rent out an apartment.
We moved around a lot, and ended up in Heppenheim, a beautiful little town in Hessen, a historical part of Germany. I started and finished high school there, and so did my sister. It was a great life, the people and friends were great.
My mom found a job as a pharmacist, and luckily her pharmacy documents out of Slovakia were transferable. My dad started working for a German division of NIKE, and we were able to live a good and solid life.
For my dad, however, it was a very dramatic decision to leave behind his passion for acting and replace it with a non-relating job, for necessity reasons.
Our parents mainly made sure we were taken care off. My dad tried to get some roles in German theatres, TV shows, and films, but because of his heavy accent and zero German reputation in the field, he was not successful.
Over the years he has somehow passed on the passion for theatre, film, and TV to me.
I acted in a few school plays, but I have always been fascinated by movies. I LOVED watching movies – any kind really.
In Europe the exposure to some serious quality European cinema is high, and so that’s how I grew up watching Luc Besson’s “Subway” (which later on influenced me to make my recent film), Sonke Wortman’s “Der Bewegte Mann” and Detlef Buck’s “Wir Koennen Auch Anders”… But American cinema has always allured me too, and movies such as Crocodile Dundee, Ghostbusters, Home Alone, When Harry Met Sally… all had a magic touch on me.
And there was one thing that combined all these and more movies: New York City.
After I graduated from high school in Germany, I decided to go to Film School. I tried Germany first, but didn’t get into any. I knew I wanted to be behind the camera, rather than in front of it, so I pursued that drive in me, and I ended up in the US.

This was another huge change for me, but this time I was not a kid anymore, I was determined to go for the big dream, no matter what it would take.
After two years of covering basic crap classes in a Community College in a beautiful town in South West Florida, I moved to New Jersey to go for my Bachelor’s in Media Arts at NJCU in Jersey City.
It got me close enough to New York City and far enough from my family to have my own space as an artist/filmmaker. It was a very exciting time for me and I started to shape my vision of what I really wanted to do.
I have never had money, always been broke, took on-campus jobs, had internships, crazy school schedules, but still managed to make my first short film with financial support by my parents. The film immediately succeeded at a New Jersey festival, and that’s when I realized that I was on the right track…
An important person for me at that time became a Korean guy named Juneyup Yi, who is still today my roommate and best friend here in the city. He has been a survival guide and filmmaking partner for me, and we have made a large number of shorts together in the past few years.
We couldn’t be any more different and alike at the same time. We help each other survive in the big city, and we share the same passion for films. I helped shape his films and he helped shape mine. He introduced me to Asian Cinema and I showed him European films, and the result is a very interesting cultural mix that comes through in our projects.
My day job is a ridiculous low-pay editing position at a cheap-ass place in midtown. However, my boss agreed to sponsor my working VISA, and so I depend on the job to the fullest.
Because of my VISA restrictions, I can not take on any other jobs to make some serious money, so that’s why my films take a while to be financed in order to be made. The only time I can make films is on nights and weekends, so that pretty much kills the possibility of having a healthy relationship with a girl. No time, no money, no point – sad but true.