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Interview with Lukáš Sigmund
the 13th of April 2023

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by Lukáš Sigmund

"When a rational homicide detective starts finding the body of the same person over and over again and discovers connections between the cases and her own family, worried for her loved ones, she must investigate her own past, consciousness and nature of her own reality"

Lukáš is a Slovakian writer who has gained a wide experience of screenwriting thanks to such projects as:Villa Lucia (2023),Ultimátum (2022),Horná Dolná (2015), and Hviezda (2013). From TV series, films, animations and documentaries, Lukáš likes to experiment following his interest towards sci-fi and social dystopia genres with experimental narratives.

When did you start working with Michal, your producer ?


Ages ago. I think it was 2009 when he approached me because he wanted to do a Slovak adaptation of the Office. We wrote a setup and a pilot and then the network decided they don’t want to buy a licensed format like The Office at all. But we spent some time together writing the pilot. And we found out that we have this similar type of humor.


You just clicked.


Yeah, like, “I can work with this person”. I co-wrote his caper comedy Villa Lucia, and even though it is a very hard genre we managed to make it a shared story with personal undertones and now it premiered last month.


In terms of doing series together, when I returned from Serial Eyes in Berlin, he was in the middle of a eight part mini-series Ultimatum. It's about a police negotiator who must handle a complicated hostage situation in a hospital while his pregnant wife happens to become one of the hostages… It’s like the extreme of every situation of a daily medical show was “invaded” by a different genre - a hostage drama. It was a co-production between a Slovak private broadcaster and Czech public broadcaster. And it was the first of a kind. So I was back in Bratislava and Michal was looking for a new writer on this show  and I was asked to do some script doctoring and a rewrite.

The show did well, and based on that we offered to Czech TV my project from Serial Eyes and that's how it started.


How did the idea of writing this project come to you?


Short story long: I was writing on a daily series and then a comedy series for Slovak broadcasters for more than ten years. I really felt like I needed some kind of change because I found the environment a bit limiting. The situation regarding TV production in Slovakia is really not ideal in terms of how one can make one's own bold and original projects.


Serial Eyes changed this from the ground up. And this change of environment was challenging because suddenly I could write whatever I wanted and strangely, this was very new to me. Not working on other’s projects. I always wanted to tell these kinds of twisted stories, and It was encouraging that suddenly it was okay to be really bold with it and that it was possible to do them.

I want to write about altered worlds that I am interested in, these twisted narratives in the vein of one of my favorite writers of all time, Philip K. Dick.


Programmes like EWC and Serial Eyes are great platforms where experienced writers get to feedback each other. And these people can help me shape the stories I want to write about in a positive way.

I love development, riffing on ideas and stuff like this, especially when I meet like-minded people who are on my wavelength. This is actually a quote from another favorite writer of mine, Thomas Pynchon “Every weirdo in the world is on my wavelength.” Yes, he is a weirdo.




What happened for you in Serial Eyes ?


In Serial Eyes, we were in Berlin for nine months. And some of us literally left our homes for a totally different country and I believe that this act of leaving my “habitat” was important in my case. I remember there were these moments in which all of us were kind of struggling in the process of creating our shows. Moments like when you look inside your head and afraid that this creation of yours is not working at all, and so on and so on. So you talk to the people on your wavelength and suddenly there are some little positive changes. And then it clicks.

I had this kind of low moment in Berlin with breaking down my show that ended up being Frontwards. So I just sent “Okay, guys, I really need to talk to you” to our WhatsApp group and all these equally stuck writers were very supportive. So I wrote about my doubts regarding my project and some new ideas. Someone wrote then “This is very you. Stick with it”. And this was very important to me. Because It came from people that were on the same wavelength. I think that was the moment when I started to be confident with this thing.

In comparison to business as usual ?


My general experience is that after pitching a project early in development, people have their opinions about what they think the project should be about. Yet, they start the conversation with “Remember, nobody knows anything, but I think your show should be like this and this and this.” It is a road to development hell, because when you want to please all of these voices, you never really finish anything.


When I was working for the International Festival of Animated Films as one of the programmers, on one pitching forum I met a team of animators, who spent three years only deciding the format they were writing for! I think it's because they were listening to all of these voices advising them that it should be an animated series, animated feature, animated short, and they just wanted to fulfill other’s whatever needs in this vicious loop.


My point is that to some extent, once you know what you want to do and why, only then you can level up with someone who is giving you advice based on their own vision.




I think this is what we do here at EWC, as we believe in the need to see the empowerment of the writers, because at the end of the day, you're doing something that no one else can and you're creating this universe and taking us there.


More importantly, what is Frontwards about ?


For me, all of the stories are inspired by real events. I had a grandfather who was suffering with Alzheimer's disease. And was growing up in the 90s Eastern bloc “metropolis”. I was also resisting change.


So, in Frontwards, all the scenes that are related to Alzheimer's are emotionally based on my experience. Getting lost into oneself is something which can be based on true events as well. These are the things that, the moment you put yourself into it and relate to it, then other people can also feel it.


And you managed to share with your consultant Lidia Fraga and other EWC Participants, the second message behind this Sci-Fi crime tale


That is actually what I also wanted to mention. When we had the session with Vincent (Poymiro, tutor at EWC Boosting Concepts) and Lidia, and also with the Umbrella group, (creator/writer Molly Malene Stensgaard and consultant writer Marlene Melchior for The Umbrella Murderer), I'm sitting in the room with people, that have been through many, many, of these struggles as writers. And we all know how hard it is.

So I am absolutely 100% confident that their recommendations are valid notes, and I want to listen to them. I trust these people. They know what it takes to do to be a writer on this level. So, it's, you know, so good!


The selection of the people here is extraordinary. When you are a writer and you meet other writers, you already know it. It's in their eyes, it's in the way they talk, in the way they handle tiny things and everyday micro situations… And so, as a writer, I want to pick these people’s brains. And when they feel something about my project, like “maybe, you could put more of this, you should think more about that…”, then my first reaction is, okay, where does the note come from, where can we get from here? Because I know it comes from their genuine interest in the art of storytelling.


And the second thing is, can we come up with solutions in a week? And how do you feel about it?

For instance, Vincent, our tutor, was really analytical and he said like, okay, so you are this structure obsessed guy, but your structure has holes here and there.


And then there is Lidia, and she understands what I’m trying to do, and she goes more into the psychological aspect of the show and where it could get better. And she also actually found the thing that is like the driving force of the story. The theme is not the memory. It's about resistance to change.


EWC is all about these genuine exchanges and constructive feedback always serving the story, with our writers, broadcasters and now producers too. Do you feel we managed to create a space for such constructive dialogue ?


I think that safe space must be a part of feedback. It's very important because once you don't feel safe, you won't do anything new. But there must be some tension. Are you familiar with these things like comfort zones, stretch zones and panic zones?


First you have a comfort zone. You feel safe there. Nothing threatens you. You have everything at your disposal, but you don't progress because you don’t have to change anything, you like it and all of your needs are fulfilled.


Then it's the Stretch zone which can challenge you. Something new is happening, and you have to react. And it's a healthy challenge, let's say. And that's the zone where you'll actually do something.


And the panic zone is the ultimate threat, right? And this is where you just close yourself as much as you can. And you probably want to go back to the comfort zone and never leave it again, you know.


And this, EWC, is a stretch zone for me because I feel safe but still I’m motivated to do something. I also know that I have to react to new impulses. And this is where my project will get better because it's in the proper zone for it.



I have one last question because you talk a lot about your very healthy collaboration with other writers and that this has really boosted your project. Have you been anxious over the fact that now the producers are here, and soon the broadcasters?


I always feel anxious! Yes and no, one thing is trusting the process. I already know that the process of development is tricky, there will be a lot of questions and sometimes nasty questions asked. It's never a personal attack. It's just about that everyone wants to make the project work for them as well.

The more you've been through this, the less threatening it seems.


Writing is like Aikido, my sport of choice!  The very basic principle of Aikido is that you  are learning techniques and at the same time your brain is changing in the very same process. These techniques are interconnected, have inner logic and It's a kind of structure as well.

The more you practice a technique, even the most basic one, the more you improve, so you just keep repeating it. You must keep repeating it all the time. Even if you think you did it great, you just keep improving. You cannot learn it perfectly, like writing. Nobody can.But most importantly, this practice eventually gets into your system and suddenly you can do it unconsciously.


So when you already were in these intense story meeting situations, when you've got all these nasty questions you have kind of learnt that it is not as threatening as it seems, it's just  a method of working. Your brain unconsciously flips to the “development constructive” mode.

My personal experience with development is that  after every  developing session I feel better than after the previous one. So the thing that we are going to face right now, with the producers and broadcasters, is what I'm looking forward to; because there will be questions, there will be challenges, but that’s what it must be about.


I mean, I'm here with you guys, with my producer, with the broadcaster who found this place ideal for our project. Not that I want to say “What could possibly go wrong?” because everything always can but I mean, it is clear that we are all here because we all want to make this project even better.


That's a very good conclusion!

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Consultant Writer
Lidia Fraga

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Michal Kollárom

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Attached Broadcaster

Jan Maxa

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Want to learn more about Boosting Concepts?

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