Mischa Rozema (born 1971) is a Dutch film and commercials director. He is also co-founder of Dutch film company, The Panics and sister brands Post Panic, House of Panic, The Panics Film and Panic Room. The Panics is an internationally respected and awarded team best known for their uncompromising creative ambitions and craft both within the commercial and original content sectors. After studying Industrial Design, Graphic Design and Image & Media Technology, Rozema’s love of film drew him into the direction of filmmaking and the next 20 years saw him establishing his name internationally with creatively ambitious commercial work directed for high-profile global brands. During this time, Rozema never stopped making his own personal projects and in 2012 Rozema decided to focus on the longer form film ambitions The Panics had initially set out to do. His 2015 philosophical sci-fi concept short SUNDAYS turned heads worldwide and still continues to hold cult status amongst a loyal international fanbase and in 2018, Rozema made commercial headlines again with his branded content short A REPORT OF CONNECTED EVENTS for global television network, Liberty Global. The short garnered awards and critical acclaim (including the Grand Prix at the Dutch Creativity Awards 2019) for its beautiful take on the power of storytelling. Rozema continues to direct award-winning commercials (including Playstation and Garena) whilst still writing and developing original content film and episodic drama projects.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
Trapped inside a simulation!? No, thank you. Although we might already be in one as we speak...Joking aside, I do think that good Sci-Fi is fundamentally a warning about how we treat the world and ourselves today. An extrapolation of our flaws as a species. Be it technological or philosophical, these places always end up worse then the one I'm currently in.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
Hal 9000. Not so much spiritual but I do think it's one of the most important characters in Sci-Fi history. It was the first time the idea of Artificial Intelligence was portrayed in a very powerful way. And, by the looks of it, we're far from done with that concept.
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
An extremely Philip K. Dick question! So from what I've read from him: a definite 'Foe'. Also I'm not convinced that creativity can ever be artificial. At least not as a meaningful human experience.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, Denis Villeneuve and Christopher Nolan. I'll be on the bench, enjoying whatever masterpiece they create. Which won't be a great basketball game I'm afraid.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
Every good idea starts out as a bad one. It's really hard work to create something meaningful and good. If you truthfully look at the starting concept or initial spark of some of your favourite movies out there, your first reaction would probably be something like: Nah…
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
No, I'm not part of anything. It's a very personal thing for me. Isolation is the wrong word for this. But yes, I do face this alone, but as an enrichment of reality. I feel fortunate that my brain can spend some time somewhere or somewhen else.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do you strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
The older I get, the more analog I become. My main tool is still my brain. So I'm always looking for the shortest way to extract information from it: sketching and writing. As analog as it gets. The expertise and knowledge to then finish one of those ideas is becoming more specialised and complex. It would be a waste of my time if not completely impossible to keep up with the whole digital process of filmmaking. Others are way more talented in those areas. Having said that, I used to do all those things myself when I started out as a filmmaker. So it's good to have an understanding of the entire process.
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
Reality is the best resource. That way, people can relate to your story. In my humble opinion, good Sci-Fi should be grounded in our reality. Only then does the unimaginable becomes believable. I've studied industrial and graphic design, so there's always the need for me to design/create worlds. With a simple mantra: Form follows Function, you can really add a lot of narrative power to your story. As you can probably see, I'm a sucker for architecture. Always on the lookout for the perfect environment to my next project.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Neither. Both. Practical. Dystopia. Post Apocalypse.