Interview with Damir Jusufović, the owner of Halo Creative Team

Why Bitef?

Two years ago, I got invited by Anđa and Kneža and it has been mutual pleasure since the beginning. The two of them were happy to have found the right person for the job, and I was happy because Halo Creative Team has major clients like Raiffeisen bank, SBB, but we love when we get an opportunity to do something creative, and you can hardly find something more creative than Bitef. Personally, I like it when we, every couple of years, do something for the common good, which makes us feel fulfilled.

There is an anecdote about how we decided on the current website design. Halo Creative Team does not do jobs by order; we enter a firm, observe the business process, become a part of the team, and make software based on that. After that, we received an email from three cooks who said: “Kids, this is not good, this is not how you make a broth” (laughs) Kneža, Anđa and Sanja came to the meeting full of themselves, thinking they have the solution for everything, certain to change our mind (laugh). The next day I heard what they had said when they got in a taxi after the meeting: “We got them, we agreed to everything!” When they realized that we managed to make the three of them, who belong in different departments, think alike, the love was born. The story got around, and soon the entire Bitef team came to Halo Creative Team for a training course, to receive a bit of that energy. That is how it all started, and here we are now, still working and trying to generate some new ideas which we will put into practice.


What novelties can we expect when it comes to the cooperation between Bitef and Halo Creative Team?

Online ticket sales, electronic voting without ballot boxes, translation during performances which will appear on website… I’ve got million ideas.

The good thing about Bitef is that a big meeting is held several months before the festival, and a big one afterwards. That second one basically comes down to: “Okay, it is behind us now, let’s see what was not good, where we lack resources, in which aspects software did not cover what it was supposed to cover”, and so on. And the ideas that get generated then really do get implemented by the next meeting, and then new things keep opening up. I like novelties, Bitef supports new tendencies, and that is where we see eye to eye.


How difficult is it to balance the wishes of all our departments, to offer everyone the right solution, and keep the integrity? Especially since most of your associates from Bitef are women.

I grew up among women, I have sisters, so I don’t find it hard to understand when Kneža, for example, asks for “a digital which brings business solution”. What is important, is that people who visit a website can find what they are searching for, but we should also direct them to that. Your task is to educate your visitors, to direct them to points of interest. Simply giving a client what they want without presenting the content of the site and its possibilities is wrong. Bitef understands that, which makes it easy for me to make it.


This year, Bitef slogan is “World Without Us”. What does a world without people mean to you?

Bitef visual identity was sent to me a couple of hours before it got announced. It moved me so much that I instantly set it as a wallpaper both on my computer and on my phone… Wherever I could, I applied it (laughs - and then I got admonished that it should not go viral before the next day’s conference). Whenever I look at the poster, I truly stop to think. We in IT have been living that world ever since The Matrix. We have been living in the world without people for a long time now. It does have its advantages but it is also very dangerous. Everything has become virtual, we are alienated. People go less frequently to theatre, to cinema, people spend less time together, they travel less, and virtual reality makes it possible for me to put on glasses and visit Cuba. Computers suggest what to buy, who should be our friend. But that is not what life is. You have to get dirty, to fall down, to get hurt, and to win. Only then can you feel the adrenalin surge which makes you feel alive. That is where Bitef comes in with its performances of a lifetime!

With all the problems you have just mentioned, what keeps you in IT?

The best thing about it is that we finish school for a certain trade, we acquire some knowledge, but unlike other professions, we also learn each client’s business. So, I, for example, had to learn and become a broker in order to develop software for a brokerage. We do provide a service, but we also have to learn a business to the full. And that is what is most beautiful, because you keep learning new things over and over again, like a child. That is what keeps me in this profession.


What does Bitef represent to you?

To me, Bitef is life. After a performance, I am as happy as a child, full of adrenalin. Even when there is a gaffe, what can we do, that is life. In IT, it is like this - something does or does not function, there is no middle point. So, for me, this is a sort of a vent, I meet people in theatre, I look at them, I smell them, I feel some atmosphere. Bitef disturbs the entire comfort that I, as an IT person, have created for myself.


What would you single out as the best aspect in your cooperation with Bitef, and what the most difficult one?

Bitef is the only one among our clients whose people I don’t know where they relieve stress, you are definitely on some kind of Bitef theatre drugs. With other clients, each omission provokes a great uproar. In Bitef, I have never felt any tension, any hysteria, mobbing, all of which have become common in most companies. I mean, you also work really hard, but in the end, all of it is with smile, you say - “okay, next year we will correct that”, and you really do. What I don’t like is that the festival is too short. Fortunately, Bitef Theatre is our client too, so I foster the illusion of its lasting all year long.


Would you have more anecdotes about Bitef team that you would like to reveal?

Not an anecdote, but there is something else I’d like to say. You have a spiritual leader. For me, Medenica is the new Che Guevara. He has gathered a group of people, not numerous but strong. A couple of nights ago, I opened a newspaper portal at three in the morning and the first piece of news was about Bitef. I was so happy not to see politicians, terrorist, or business on the first page. Medenica and the small group of people are conquering the world and wining hearts with such courage that I find it fascinating. Your workspace is small, you don’t know who is sitting where, you have fewer chairs than people in the office, but you still make it to all the frontpages. There isn’t a single person who hasn’t heard of Bitef. Medenica is surrounded by a team of women who don’t look like businesswomen that tear the world down, you are not Angela Merkel, but you still do manage to tear it down by your quiet and calm work. What I admire most is your ability to have a meeting at ten in the morning and over pastry, ice-cream, and coffee, you put out all fires and shake the cage for all of us.