Thanks to the new movie Banger, Adam Messick and Marcel Bendigo are being talked about as rising stars of acting. The first depicts drug dealer Alex, who wants to break into rap music, and the second plays his esteemed forever friend Laďa. In the interview, they explained why they were stopped by a police patrol during filming and why they needed a substance abuse expert on the set, even though they didn’t use one in front of the camera.

In the movie Banger, you act like inseparable friends. Did the chemistry between the two of you only develop on the set, or did you two already know each other before filming?

Mishek: Before filming, we met maybe once in my recording studio. We tried a little to see how we could walk together, and just sat down normally. I think the chemistry between people either works right away or it doesn’t work at all, and fortunately we did.

Director Adam Sedlac first wanted to cast a completely different actor in the role of drug dealer Alex. For a while, he even considered that Marcel would play him and that Adam Michik was not in his sight at all.

Bendig: Vojto Vodochodsky was originally supposed to play Alex. However, Adam Sedlack found out during camera tests that he didn’t fit in well for the role, so I thought I could try it out. But I wasn’t as compelling about it as I was when I played Lay in Alex’s classmate.

This surprises me. Láďa is a hyperactive artist who pulls one story after another, while you have a more introverted nature into urban life.

Bendig: Yes, I am a crazy introvert. Under normal circumstances, I don’t just talk to anyone, I’m totally shy, but when it comes to acting, I’m switching all of a sudden, all the shyness drops from me and I’m a completely different person. When I read the script, Alex’s character looked quite doomed and sad indeed. She was somewhat similar to me in her complex nature, which is probably why I couldn’t play her very well. On the other hand, in the role of comedian Ládi, I managed to lose a lot, unleashing my creativity.

Breaking the media image

Adam, how did you finally convince director Banger that you should get the lead role?

Mishek: On the other hand, I originally tried to choose the role of Ládi, but when I actually read the script, I thought I’d better play Alex. Unlike Marcel, I am an extrovert, so I was drawn to the introverted personality. For the audience, of course, at first glance, Láďa is more entertaining, because it is always greasy and in one piece he breaks it with some kind of message. Alex, on the other hand, has an inside fight all the time, which I found to be an interesting acting challenge. When director Adam Sedlac finally gave me the role, many people asked him if he had gone crazy. Some people still look at me as a celebrity rather than an actor. But that’s exactly why I enjoy experimenting with other sites and smashing my own media picture a bit.

At the same time, Adam Sedlac realized that he needed to choose someone in at least a little active role in the rap community and watched the world of the underworld in Prague. I’m not saying I’m well versed in this environment, but after all, I’ve glimpsed it quite a bit in my personal life. I knew a lot of young kids, like Alex, started selling drugs, and today he might not even be free. Thus, I can be more natural in the role. Then, after our first joint camera audition with Marcel, when I invited Adam Sedlac into my studio and played him some of my new songs, he saw that the music was as important to me as Alex, and assured that I could handle the role.

“When you don’t have a professional viewfinder pointed at you, but just a smartphone, it pushes you to be more civil, which is exactly what we needed with Banger.” | Photo: Hunza Mudra

The first thing that strikes theatergoers in their eyes is that Banger was filmed entirely on an iPhone. How did you play in front of a smartphone, even with an extra lens?

Bendig: It surprised me at first. When I found out I was going to be in a movie shot on my iPhone, I thought, What the hell am I getting into? But then I saw the first shots and discovered that they looked unexpectedly good. Plus, when I played in front of my phone, I felt like I was making YouTube videos at home, which was great.

Mishek: When the big, professional viewfinder isn’t pointing at you, just a smartphone, it pushes you to be a bit more civilized, which is exactly what we needed with Banger. We didn’t even have this huge crew moving around that much. When filming scenes where Alex delivers drugs to his clients or drives between the studio and the nightclub, only the director and photographer were with us in the car. Maybe the sound engineer isn’t right there anymore, so he had to prep everything up and hope the technology doesn’t go wrong.

Banger captures in a crude way the nightlife of young people in Prague, who, in addition to rap, indulge in drugs. Adam already mentioned that he could have based the film on the fates observed in his surroundings. Marcel, how close are you to the topic?

Bendig: I myself am the type who doesn’t need to try drugs at all. For personal reasons, it has always rather shocked me. I grew up in an environment where I could see with my own eyes how young people who had been searching for themselves in life were gradually turning into monsters. Some of them were close to me once, so I had something to draw from when playing Ládi.

meth advisor

Laďa in the movie takes on everything from cocaine to methamphetamine. Have you had an assistant willing to advise you on the effects of any medication?

Bendig: Yes, I had a drug expert on hand to give me instructions on when to lay off, when to get drowsy, and when to come back in a coma. Observing the people around me, I remembered only one drug-induced condition, and only in the group did I learn that each had slightly different effects.

In the role of Ládi, at one point you are so stopped that you can’t walk, in the next scene you breathe again, as if you had just come out of a sauna. What did movie make-up artists do to you to be able to plausibly mimic the physical manifestations of drug addiction?

Bendig: They really won with me at the makeup store. They sprayed fake sweat on me, put makeup on to make me circle my eyes, or put special contact lenses to dilate my pupils.

Mishek: If Marcel had really taken all the drugs the Ládi character in the movie takes during filming, he wouldn’t be able to play anything. That is why we can not do without the work of a make-up artist.

Speaking of which, what powder did Lata and other characters in the movie smell instead of cocaine?

Mishek: Dextrose. Of course, there were no real drugs in the kit.

"Some people still see me as a celebrity rather than an actor.  That's why I enjoy breaking this media picture of myself a little bit," Michik remembers.

“Some people still see me as a celebrity rather than an actor. That’s why I enjoy smashing this media image of myself a little bit,” Michik recalls. | Photo: Hunza Mudra

But I heard you were stopped by the police while filming one scene. What happened exactly?

Mishek: We were driving past the Hilton when a patrol stopped us. I must have taken a stupid turn somewhere while driving, and I also had weird lights attached to the car for filming, which was suspicious for the police. In addition, they saw the two apparitions in the driver’s and passenger’s seats – my head shaved and tattooed on my face, Marcel with enlarged pupils.

Bendig: They even searched my bag, which was somewhat unnecessary, because the production car came right behind us, and it must have been obvious to the police that we were making a movie. I think they just need to be important.

Drug movies always carry two dangers. They can face criticism that they glorify addictive substances too much, but at the same time they can come across moral sermons that viewers would prefer to avoid. Did you decide while filming not to slip to the extreme?

Mishek: Adam Sedlac actually solved this dilemma for us when he wrote the script. I think we’ve been able to capture the magic and downside of drugs in their raw form. We tried to show that drugs can be fun, but they can also lead to serious consequences. Now it’s up to each viewer to judge what feels right and what isn’t. In my opinion, good movies make you make up your mind on the topic, and I think Banger does just that.

Fame is not the same as respect

But Banger isn’t just about the glamor and misery of drugs. The main character Alex basically works as a dealer so he can start his rap career with the money he earns. He longs for recognition, which in his opinion is measured primarily by the number of likes on social networks. Do you think your colleagues, who are mainly targeted by the film, would sympathize with him?

Mishek: This is how it works these days. Young people follow their most famous peers on Instagram, see their ideal life, and if they cannot achieve the same success, they feel that they have failed, that something is wrong with them. They want to get the same numbers on social networks as their role models, because this is the only way to confirm that others love them. But then you ask those people who also want to become famous what they want to do, and often you find that they have nothing to show for it. Or, on the contrary, like Alex, they are devoted to something, but because they cannot boast of large numbers, they feel that they are invisible, that they mean nothing. Not everyone can tolerate it and oftentimes it results in self-esteem issues. However, having numbers does not mean getting recognition. Just because people know you doesn’t mean they respect you.

"If we don't make more fast and fun movies like Banger, the younger generation won't have a reason to go to the cinema for home productions," Michik says.

“If we don’t make more movies that are as fast and fun as Banger, the younger generation will have no reason to go to the cinema to watch home movies,” Messick says. | Photo: Hunza Mudra

Speaking of respect, Adam, Alex’s character deals with peers who have rich fathers multiple times in the movie. He blames them for making things easier in life. I wonder if something similar regarding your father, Vladimir Michik, is sometimes thrown at you as well.

Mishek: Sure, some people assume that if you’re the son of a famous musician, you don’t deserve the attention or success. But I try not to go into it at all. My father is seventy-five years old and has been in tunnels his whole life. He always avoided the show business, I was the only one in our family working there. The idea that I only got the role in Banger because of my dad is nonsense. If I’m not good at acting or music and there is no one to root me, it’s hard for me to make a living. At most, they would write three articles about me in newspapers, but you cannot build a career on this basis.

Marcel, you do not have famous parents, and in addition, your gypsy origin can put you at a disadvantage in acting. In Banger, after the four-year-old Lynch series, she got only the second main role. How do you deal with the fact that the filmmakers haven’t dumped you much yet?

Bendig: Of course I’m sorry, especially since so far I’ve mainly been getting roles written specifically for Roma, and it looks like they’re going to stay that way for a while. I would like to play a doctor or a lawyer one day. That is why I am happy when the gypsy origin of Ládi’s character is not emphasized in any way.

Few good films are made in the Czech Republic

You will probably only get more offers after Banger. From the comments so far, it seems that film critics and audiences consider you a great talent, and that also applies to Adam.

Mishek: The problem is that very few interesting films are made in the Czech Republic. Getting any roles is one thing at all, and it’s another thing you have to play in roles that you have something to play with. I think youth films are not particularly available here. When they show their third comedy with Langmajer in one year, of course that’s cool, my mom loves to watch it. But it is likely that no one in our time will go to it.

Unless he went with my mom.

Mishek: Just like that. But if we don’t make more fast, fun and contemporary films like Banger, the younger generation will have no reason to go to the cinema to see home productions. At the moment, our cinematography is dominated by wild comedies or, conversely, brutal art films that only the most demanding audience will appreciate.

Adam Sedlac at least wants to continue making films for young audiences. In the press show, he even hinted that Banger could see a sequel, in which Marcel will play the main role again, and you, Adam, will endorse him.

Mishek: Sure, next time I’ll be the injured one and Marcel will be back from rehab.

Watch Banger’s ad:

Banger will be released in theaters on September 22. | Video: Etiquette movie

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