We had the good fortune of connecting with Adelina Suvagau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Adelina, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
All of us have good ideas, but how does one know if they are geared for success? Well, in my opinion one seldom knows from the beginning. Most of us work hard, persevere and in time aspire to turn our ideas into gold. For me the realization that I was on the right track arrived when my daughter, after growing up observing me and my work, decided to embrace the same career path leading both of us to an amazing, creative, fun and successful collaboration. I am an award-winning documentary and TV Producer with 30 years’ experience in television, film and documentary production. I started my career with the National Romanian TV Broadcasting Corporation at the dawn of the communist and totalitarian regime’s collapse, eager to start afresh in a free society. My daughter was just a year old. At that time I did not have any experience in journalism or broadcasting, but as I had always dreamed to work in this field, I worked hard to learn, to be appreciated and eventually to turn it into a lifetime career. By the time my daughter turned six I had completed a one year training course with BBC, was already producing and hosting my own TV show, garnered industry awards and became a recognized TV personality in Romania. Eager to explore more opportunities I moved to Vancouver, Canada, with my husband and daughter and founded Sonia Productions Inc. I named it after my daughter’s first name to inspire myself for success and leave her a legacy that she could build from in case she chose such a career. The bet held, and Sonia graduated with a Fine Arts Bachelor in Film from Simon Fraser University and has gone on to produce a successful body of work herself. Even though she has her own projects we still collaborate frequently, for my weekly Television series, ROMPOST TV as well as for several documentaries, dramatic shorts and other film projects. Sonia and I have always been very close, and our different generational influences and approach to storytelling have proven to be an asset. We make a great collaborative team and every project is an uplifting and blissful experience. While I bring experience in broadcasting and journalism Sonia complements it with strong visionary concepts, innovative filmmaking, acting and directing skills. Our latest project, Box of Freedom, is a comedy-drama feature film inspired by a true refugee’s journey to Canada. I directed, co-produced and co-wrote the film with Sonia who, at the same time is also the lead actress. In order to demonstrate the Box of Freedom’s appeal to audiences and to potential film investors we adapted it for stage and had a successful run in front of a live audience during the Vancouver Fringe Festival in 2018. We were thrilled that all performances were sold out. Inspired by the audience’s great response, we incorporated several elements of the play into the next draft of the film’s screenplay.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
MY ART: My most important task is to always reveal the psyche, the spirit and inner-being of my fictional characters or interviewees in creative ways that display an emotional life-force, that emanate human warmth, that adhere to the universal truth, and always with a good dose of humour. In all the films and TV shows I created, my contribution to social justice, human rights and the condition of women is evident and positive. WHAT SETS ME APART: Having trained with BBC World Service as a war correspondent, I understand the importance of living in the moment, to focus on the significance of stories as well as on the subjects, at the same time considering their context within existing surroundings and finally, to offer all the support and assistance in sharing the subjects’ stories in a balanced, communicative and forthright way. Similarly, in my film director role I work very closely with the actors motivating them to produce their best dramatic performance while transporting them inside the reality of their characters’ life – be it quirky, sad, successful or fortunate; a performance that expresses adequate emotions, suggests the necessary action and represents a significant interconnection with the real world. The realization that every moment of my work is unique, much like in a war zone and as such, it must be treated with the utmost care, passion and devotion precisely because it is not repeatable, well, I believe it is this aspect that sets me apart from other colleagues in the film and television industry. OVERCOMING CHALLENGES: I have always been a hard worker and a fighter strongly believing in my professional knowledge and my adaptability. Since my arrival in Canada in 1995, I had to reinvent myself, as the cultural differences between my native and my adoptive country were extremely difficult for a newcomer adamant to remain in the same professional field. Not being able to find a place in the Vancouver TV production landscape, I switched to film production, enrolling in the film school “North Shore Film Studios” and upon graduation I began working in the film industry. In 1999 I decided to go full-time back to school, this time to study and get training in New Media. It was the millennium ‘dot.com” era and the prospects looked good. Alas, when I completed my studies, the Internet bubble was busted. There is always a silver lining to all challenges! In my case, my degree in business and economics, the BBC training in TV journalism and the television and film production experience along with the newly acquired New Media skills gave me the confidence to start my own independent television show, Rompost TV, now in its 18th season. My show is broadcasted weekly by OMNI Television, one of the largest multicultural TV stations in Canada. For more information on my film and television projects please visit our website www.soniaproductions.com WHAT I AM MOST PROUD OF: Looking back at my three decades of activity in TV and film I am proud of my achievements in Romania but mostly, of my Canadian achievements: producing and directing TV documentaries and TV series, dramatic shorts, feature films and stage plays. The documentary called “Return to Byzantium: The Art and Life of Lilian Broca”, a 50-minute film produced in cooperation with the Romanian National Television, aired on CBC across Canada after winning “the Best Documentary” award at the San Pedro International Film Festival in LA. I am also proud of taking the risk of carrying the double role as a producer and director of my first feature film “Box of Freedom”, now in post-production. “Box of Freedom” is an emotional story that invites the audience to question the real meaning of “freedom” and to experience the act of “finding hope” in a most desperate situation. It is through facing our fears courageously and accepting them as a necessary part of growth that our inner freedom can truly flourish. It was a great challenge to tell the story of a female refugee’s journey, one that takes her through two continents and four countries all the while filming entirely in Vancouver, Canada, the time allotted being only twelve days and with an under 40K budget. This was truly an illuminating experience I will not forget. LESSONS LEARNED: I have always relied on my own merits to move ahead in my career. While the stars lined up perfectly at the beginning of my career and I rapidly raised to public recognition in Romania, I had to fight hard, inch by inch, for the professional success and recognition I’ve achieved here in Canada. Therefore, the main lesson I’ve learned is how to be resilient. I’ve also learned how to be adaptive and with very little resources maintain great production value and get the job done no matter what. I’m now confident in my ability to need very little to tell a story effectively. WHAT I WISH THE WORLD TO KNOW ABOUT ME: I welcome challenges which help me grow as an artist and I stick with my vision and stay focused on my projects regardless of any obstacles. My hope is to visually entertain through telling stories that are comprehensive, interesting, authentic, and bring hope to the world. I love to make a positive difference in the lives of people.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Vancouver is a city in a significantly different geographical part of this vast country, Canada; the weather here is mild in the winter and pleasurably warm in the summer. The high and green-lush mountains of the Northern part of the city melt on idyllic Pacific Ocean beaches charming us with gorgeous views all year round. Although it rains a lot (the downside of a rainforest and mountains that stop the rolling clouds, thus releasing the moisture over the city) we can enjoy the green trees, shrubs and grass 12 months a year. All this means people can visit my city any time they like. Also, the Downtown area is not abandoned after office hours, as our city includes residential buildings therefore, people who live and work Downtown can be seen strolling on tree lined streets mingling in shops, cafés and restaurants until late hours in the night. I would like to welcome my visitor friends with a long stroll along the Spanish Banks beaches overlooking the ocean and the majestic North Shore mountains with a front-row view of the Downtown’s cityscape. We can also extend the visit with a walk through the multitude of small and quaint coffee shops and ethnic restaurants in Yaletown or Gastown, a stop that would replenish our batteries. For a little bit of interesting shopping we can also visit the Granville Island for various foods, flowers and artisan art, and for more serious jewelry and fashionable clothing, a stroll on Robson Street is de rigueur. Evenings are lively most of the year in downtown or other neighborhoods recently gentrified while retaining their historic past and spirit: Kitsilano, Main Street, Broadway or Commercial Drive. Here the restaurant scene offers a rich variety in ethnic culinary delights, making it a right place to end a busy and fun day. Although 2020 has probably curbed everybody’s visiting enthusiasm I remain optimistic that Vancouver will keep being on top of your list when travel becomes possible. We are waiting for you!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I will always be grateful to Carol Whiteman for being an excellent mentor and for her guidance and support. With total confidence in me, Carol Whiteman set me on the right film-directing path, one I never imagined for myself. She provided me with guidance and constructive feedback for my first feature film script. She helped me grow as a professional in the film industry while providing me with challenges that fostered my professional development as a film director. During the mentorship I’ve received from the Women in Directors Chair organization, as part of the Career Advancement Module, I readapted the “Box of Freedom” original film screenplay, inspired by a true story of a Romanian political refugee, into a narrative with a female protagonist. “Box of Freedom” is the survival story of Dora, a Romanian comedienne, who risks her life by stowing away in a cargo ship’s container bound for Canada; all for FREEDOM which in her case, the freedom of speech is of outmost importance. Carol Whiteman’s passion for creating space for authentic creative voice to thrive has been recognized by two Governor General’s award nominations and multiple awards for promoting women’s equality in Canada’s screen industry. As the producer and co-creator of the acclaimed, one-of-a-kind professional development initiative, Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC), Whiteman has produced over 150 short films since its inception in 1997.
Website: www.soniaproductions.com www.boxoffreedom.com www.returntobyzantium.com http://www.widc.ca/director/adelina-suvagau/
Ernest von Rosen Angel Lynne