Interview: Valerija Đurđević

Valerija-Đurđević

Name: Valerija Đurđević

Where do you live: Zagreb, Croatia.

Known for:
Founding and managing Medijska tvornica (Media Factory) and Crveni ruž (Red Lipstick), writing 2 books and many songs for various Croatian artists.

Currently working with:
Writer of books, columns, music lyrics and feature film projects to be applied and funded by national and international donors. I am my own boss, but I collaborate with my husband and various clients in the field of entertainment.

When did you realize that you were going to work with this/in this area?
In 2010, when I got my first serious job at a production company. They did motion pictures as core business, and movie production in any form (writing, producing, marketing, public relations) is my first love. So, it came naturally to evolve and revolve my career around creative “behind the scenes” work. Movies are my passion, as are music and books. Making a living out of all of my passions is truly a blessing. I thank God for giving me the talent and perseverance for it.

If you could choose one place only to live, where would that be and why?
The only place I would ever want to live is NOW. Now is the best place to live, no matter the geographical location. If your mind dwells in the past, which most people are victims of, or it wanders in the future, you are missing on a beautiful gift called Life. Life is only happening now, so I choose only now as a place to live.

I do have my favorites when it comes to actual locations, but if I only have to choose one, it has to be London. I have never felt so at home as I did there. Something in the air, that kind of freedom… I didn’t feel any prejudice on the streets, nobody cared what I was wearing, who I am dating, where I work. There, I just were, and it was enough. Apart from that, the city itself is magnificent. There is no place like London and although I travel every year to different cities and countries, I keep coming back to London. I absolutely love it.

How would you describe your creativity?
My creativity is like the rain. It is fluid, moist, it falls upon me and everyone around me, it cleanses me, makes me shinier, brighter and more beautiful. It is a force of nature that takes everything old out of me, giving me a new insight I can later on share with the world.

How and when did you start to work with this in a serious manner?
In 2011 when I started my own NGO Medijska tvornica with my friends. That is when I truly took a leap of faith in my own abilities and creative mind. It took me about six months of relentless writing, brain-storming with my colleagues and creative strength, to win our first donation. I was so proud. The World Bank Office in Croatia supported our project at the time, and it was a first step to the rest of my business and creative life.

What do you do at the moment?
I am currently working on several projects. I am working on a new album for Slavonia band in collaboration with my husband Boris Đurđević. My main responsibility is writing lyrics and my husband is writing music and producing all the songs. Also, I am writing my third book, the last part of my chick-lit novel trilogy I started publishing in 2013. Working title is “U krevetu” (“In bed“).

And last, but not least, I am working on a movie trilogy written and directed by Angelo Jurkas. My role is to find finances for three feature films, so I advise, write, prepare and execute all applications of the movie projects to various local, national, regional, international and EU funds related to culture and motion picture. Also, for the last two years I have been an active member of National Committee for creating and implementing “No Hate Speech Movement” campaign in Croatia within the Ministry of Social Politics and Youth.

A recommendation for those who think about starting and running a creative business?
I would recommend that they listen to their inner voice. They should ask themselves: What do I really want to do for a living? Is this really a passion or a profit based wish? What is my dream? How can I achieve it? And then, go get it. But, they need to be sure to make realistic business plan and model, it will save them a lot of time and money.

Tell us how it all started.
It all started at the end of 2010, when I quit my job at this production company and decided to start my own NGO. It was hard, but I felt it was something I had to do. I was driven and supported. Luckily I have a quick mind and great mental potential, so I learned a ton in six months about the matter and projects started manifesting themselves as a result.

As for writing books, it started a bit later, in 2011 when I had just started to write my first book. I had a bad breakup in my life, and as the proud lioness that I am, I decided not to be bitter and vengeful, but to use this misfortune and turn it into a creative thing. It was my emotional outlet, although I have fictionalized a lot of the story and characters, this was the most liberating thing I have ever done for myself in my life. I wanted to share it with the world, so I did. If it helped one broken soul to move on, my mission is done, and I truly believe it did, based on the comments I received and still receive from the readers.

After the first book had great reviews and sold in respectable share in Croatia so I decided to continue on with two more. I absolutely love to write, so spontaneously I got an offer from a lifestyle portal in Croatia called “wall” to write columns online. I accepted of course, I enjoy sharing my inner truth with the public. Sometimes it is scary, you could (and do) get criticized or hurt, but the thing is, this is how I feel: if you love and accept yourself, you don’t mind the critics. As for writing music lyrics, it came totally out of the blue. I have been writing poems since I was 11 years old so it was nothing new to me, but I’ve never thought I would make something out of it. When I first met my husband he didn’t even know I have it in me… It was after a while, when I had written him a poem as a gift of my love and dedication to him, that he realized my potential and started asking me to write lyrics for his music. I hesitated for a while, but in the end I caved. I can’t say no to my husband, it’s very hard 🙂

What is the most important thing in a workplace/studio for you?
Good energy. If the energy, atmosphere is good, my creative spirit is alive and kicking. 🙂

What is your favorite film?
Uh, that is a difficult question. It’s like when you ask a parent which child he loves the most. I adore movies and have a bunch of favorites, but I will name, for the sake of this question, just a few… “My Sister’s Keeper“, “Seven Pounds“, “The Devil Wears Prada“, “Titanic“, “Gone With The Wind“, “La Vita E Bella“, “Ničija zemlja“, “Kako je počeo rat na mom otoku“, “Donnie Darko“, “A Little Bit of Heaven“, “When a Man Loves a Woman“, “How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days“. I have to stop. 🙂

Who would you like to invite for a dinner and why?
Since I love to cook and do it often for my friends and family, I would like to invite the hungriest child on the planet. I don’t like anybody to be hungry, it’s just sad and my heart goes out to them. So, I would like to make hungry child happy for a moment and beyond. I love helping people, it fills me with energy. As for celebrities, I am not fond of them that much, but I’d go with Beyoncé. Why? Because she is the queen of everything, like Phoebe from “Friends” 🙂

How do you like to spoil yourself?
These are rare times, but I think my husband spoils me a lot. As for myself, I like to be spoiled with a bubble bath and an excellent book of my choice. Watching “Friends” all day is great too.

What is luxury for you?
Everything that is not in a necessity category, food and shelter is luxury for some people. For me, luxury is doing something that I love every day and calling it a job, getting up in the morning without a stress of being in the office at 8 am sharp, having the free time to meditate and relax, spending a whole Sunday in bed with my loved one and diamonds. 🙂

What is the nicest compliment you’ve received for your creative work, and from whom?
Nomination for Woman Humanitarian of the Year 2011 made by Zamah Foundation for my work on the project “Snimi ovo!” aimed at children from orphanages and foster homes, it was a nice moment to remember. I also like to read positive comments for my songs on YouTube and good critics on my books.

What do you fear most?
Myself. And also, not having enough time to live all my dreams when they come true, and they will, you just watch me! 🙂

What is a happy life to you?
Nothing too luxurious. Just a life that is lived from the heart in connection with my soul. Doing a job I love, sharing my food and shelter with the person I love, and lots of laughter and satisfaction along the way.

What does a regular day look like for you?
It depends. Sometimes I’m in my pajamas all day and all I do is write or read. And sometimes I can’t get a second for myself, starting really early in the morning with tons of meetings in the city, running all day, doing shootings and interviews, only to come home and sit behind my laptop where another project is waiting to be finished and applied on funds. It can get hectic from time to time, but I always try to find time for people I love in my life, my husband, children, family and friends.

Tell us about your dream project.
My dream project is to write and produce a feature film based on the books I have written. It will be the best romantic comedy Croatia has ever seen. Millions of women will be touched and millions of men will be inspired. I dream of making a contribution to society, to the world. I aim to make a positive difference with a key motto: “Live out of soul, not out of habit“.

I have another dream project, it is to be a healer by my own example. I want to make my painful experiences shown to the world and I want to offer tools and means for how to heal them. There are plenty of other small dream projects I don’t want to discover yet, but everything revolves around healing the world, spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically, either by my written words (columns, books, songs or movie screenplays) or spoken ones (seminars, conferences).

Who is your professional role model/inspiration?
My inspiration is my own soul since it teaches me everything I need to know about myself and about this world. As for a professional role model, I don’t have any in particular, but let me just say that everyone that is true to themselves, follows their heart or has a strong positive impact in the world can serve as a stepping stone in role modeling. There are beautiful people who touched my heart and life in more than one way, such as Oprah Winfrey, Doreen Virtue, Gary Zukav, Linda Francis, Karl Dawson, Lorna Byrne and Luise L. Hay. The list is long 🙂 I also admire any working mother that is also an entrepreneur – that takes a lot of courage.

How would you describe your work style (academic field or fashion style, or both, or something entirely different)?
My work style is a combination of a relevant academic background, solid work experience and high degree of emotional intelligence. I also have deep respect for spiritual values in business relationships and team spirit. I would say my style is eclectic and open.

Which is the one thing you can’t live without?
I don’t like to categorize anything, and saying “I can’t live without something or somebody” is limiting, frightening and not at all realistic. Let’s be serious, I only need air and water to survive… And love, of course. As The Beatles once sang: “All you need is love”. But since I know love is within us all and I have endless love at my disposal every day all day till the day I die, then I go back to air and water. 🙂

What inspires you?
Revelation of life in a spiritual truth. God, Universe, life itself, people… All sorts of people, lucky people, nasty people, jealous people, funny people, creative people, horrible people, beautiful people… I find inspiration in every song I hear, every street I walk on, every road I take, every person I meet, every enemy I earn, every child I take care of, every friend I lose, every friend I gain, every day I live with my husband and every hour I dedicate to myself and my creative work I absolutely adore. It’s the adventure of life, inspiring in its divinity.

A book that has changed/made the most impression in your life?
As a bookworm this is not possible to answer in one sentence! I adore books and I read a book per day every chance I get. In my teenage years J.D. Sallinger with “The Catcher in the Rye“, “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemmingway and “Grička vještica” by Marija Jurić Zagorka made huge impressions, in my twenties the most impact on me were made by the books of Neal Donald Walsh, especially “Conversations with God” and books by Eckhart Tolle, especially “A New Earth“. Now, at the age of 32, I have been most influenced and changed by books by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis, especially “The Heart of the Soul – Emotional Awareness“.

Connect with Valerija via LinkedIn & Facebook
Check out her website

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