Indie champion: Get to know actress/filmmaker Tina Adams
Being a multilingual actress and film director has more than its share of perks, but that is not enough for Tina Adams also known as Martina Adamcova. Instead, she is using her multihyphenate skills to redistribute resources, knowledge, and access to independent filmmakers and those who love working on them.
Her acting credits include Pasáz, which was directed by the acclaimed Juraj Herz. She’s directed feature films such as Hotel Limbo, The Perfect Kiss, and short film Trick and Cheat.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Tina and discuss how she accessed the best education a filmmaker can get, and how she’s willing to go up against Netflix to champion independent films.
Tell us about your history in acting. How did you start your journey?
It was very difficult. As a child and as a teenager, I really didn’t know where to start. I was a kind of stand-up comedian all my life, organizing events and theatrical performances throughout my school years, but I always saw myself on the big screen. I wanted to be in movies but at that time I didn’t know how to get there. It was an untouchable, unreachable world for me.
What was the one movie you saw that made you want to go into acting?
It was a silent movie called Go for Ice Cream. The star actress was trying to leave the ice cream shop while keeping her ice cream intact and she was having a hard time failing and failing over again. It was brilliant and hilarious. I wanted to be just like that attractive super funny woman. I hoped that one day I would make the crowd laugh as she did. She was so funny that she actually overshadowed Laurent and Hardy.
Who are your current influences?
Kate McKinnon and Kaley Cuoco are my top actresses of today. They are like fireworks of beauty, fun and bubbly like the finest champagne, and daring in every single one of their performances.
Tell us about Hotel Limbo. What was the production like?
We were filming that movie for about three years because I wanted to catch that perfect moment when the fall goes wild and nature goes insane with its beautiful colors. It paid off. The cinematography is stunning. Wesley Mrozinski, my DOP, was there for a lot; he won the Award of Best Cinematography for his work on the movie.
I had the privilege to work with A-Listed actress Liliana Komorowska. My lead, the beautiful and gifted Lucie Vondrackova can be compared with the likes of Kate McKinnon and Kaley Cuoco. I watched the film recently on a very large screen at Guzzo cinema in Montréal and Lucie’s performance was even better on the BIG screen.
I noticed some really delicate expressions on her face and movements of her hands that I hadn’t seen before. She did just a fantastic job.
Did you find transitioning between acting & directing difficult?
I have to say that the first day being on set as a director made me lose my sleep the night before. I was so nervous. But suddenly everything went away with the first scene shot. I was thinking for myself:” it’s exactly my place, that’s where I belong, it’s my reason to be. What took me so long to sit in the directors’ chair?”
How was working on Pasáz? What did you learn from the experience?
Jurij Herz was a genius. I loved working with him and Pasáz was our first collaboration together. I was asking him about how he came up with the idea of the movie and he told me a very funny story.
His then-wife, Teresa Pokorný-Herz, loved skiing in the Alps, but Juraj hated the look of the mountains because Hitler used to have his chalet there, next to Munich. Juraj Herz was a Holocaust survivor. To manifest his disgust, he barricaded the window with the hotel furniture and he didn’t leave the room, but he was also bored in his improvised confinement, so he started to write the script of Pasáz.
In the movie the person is in some kind of trap, in a tunnel in a nonsense world, he cannot escape. Just like in Juraj’s case, he was not able to escape the view of the Alps from his Tyrolian hotel.
Moving forward, do you see yourself more as an actor or a director?
I see myself as a filmmaker. Because that’s what I am exactly; I am a producer, scriptwriter, director, and sometimes even an actress.
Talk us through your creative process.
The most fascinating part is writing the script.
I like to give full names to my characters, not just first names but also last names. As soon as I name them, I proceed with their description, like: how old they are, what was their childhood like, what kind of relationship they have with other characters, how they need to start acting to become independent beings, and just like real people and to my astonishment they do whatever they want to do. I’m just a writer recording their will.
Every time, it takes me by surprise.
What other artists, outside of film, inspire you?
I am heavy into visual art. I’m going to galleries, buying modern art, and studying paintings. My favorite places in a city are its museums.
As so much creative output moves to streaming services, do you think filmmakers have enough freedom to tell the stories that they find important?
I’m so grateful for the arrival of a new technology that allows us to enter everybody’s room, and into everybody’s house. I can present my movies all over the world right from people’s phones. All that means is that there are more and more screens available. Platforms are giving us a louder and stronger voice and for me it means freedom.
If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman.
What’s your next project?
I’m making a fairytale Princess and the Peas for the public as young as three years old. It will be a fantasy using beautiful costumes made by the talented Olga Rusakova, and starring Gabriel Grillotti and Lucie Vondrackova.
What has been your biggest failure?
Believing critics. I was so young, just 25, beautiful and audacious. I was the host of Games Without Frontiers, a TV show made by Eurovision, that aired in 25 countries, including Canada. I was the first person to be laughing and smiling on communist Czechoslovakia TV screens talking in an informal way to the viewers.
Of course, critics and their criticism rained all over my head. It gave me the impression that I had become a failure, it put me down and I sunk into a depression for a long time. However, even after the sweet feeling of success that I feel when people stop me, even today, on the street and tell me how much they loved that program and how much they love me cannot fade that difficulty of experience.
What has been your biggest success?
My biggest success is still out there waiting for me.
What’s your mission as an actor? Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when watching your projects.
I don’t really believe in art as being a tool for education, instead, I’m deeply convinced it is a tool for entertainment. Of course, on the other hand, I am thinking deeply about the subjects that I’m working on. For example, take my new project, the fairytale Princess on the Pea. I am always questioning myself about the origins of the Princess.
How can an unknown person who just arrives at the door asking for shelter, needs to go through all kinds of tests and interviews before being accepted, and then she is pronounced as a princess.
So this begs a deeper question: What are we doing with all the people who are newcomers to our own country? What are we doing to all the immigrants who are questioned and interrogated about their applications to be sure that they are not lying in their applications?
What’s your five-year plan?
Filming, filming, and more filming.
What indie filmmakers should be on our radar?
Veit Helmer, Gyory Palfi, and I.
What’s your favorite film of all time, and what did you learn from it?
It is very hard to just pick one movie. Being There with Peter Sellers. I found it so clever and his performance so perfect. I was very surprised how it was different from his famous pink panther performance. I learned that even a comedy can make us think.
What kind of independent films would you want Tina to tackle next? Let us know in the comments!