Interview with cinematographer Anna Vialova

Anna Vialova
  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

Anna (Cinematographer) : For some weird reason, I always felt like I have something to tell. It was never about specific life experience or my dreams, but about a chance to share my feelings. When I was 12 I started to write down my thoughts and poems, which later became an inspiration for different movies I shot. In the same time I realized that I was not ready to read them out loud and my verbal skills were not strong enough to share it with world so I found myself in cinematography. I think being a DP is a great way to tell stories staying invisible.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Anna (Cinematographer) : Absolutely no. I know a lot of great filmmakers who never finished a film school and really bad filmmakers who spent 3-4 years at school. I would say film school is a great way to develop your skills if you know exactly what you’re looking for. It gives you tips, technical knowledge and time to make mistakes. You won’t become a great cinematographer just because you finish film school. You have to engage in self-development every day with books, photography, films, traveling, visiting various exhibitions and networking.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Anna (Cinematographer) : Non of it is hard if you truly love what you’re doing. The most difficult thing is to conquer yourself, your uncertainty, depressions or offensive words of others. Once you find harmony with yourself, family, loved ones and friends everything else is possible.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on yourfilm? How did that lesson happen?

Anna (Cinematographer) : “It’s always you fault”. Being a DP is a responsible and stressful position. You are responsible for each person in your crew, for their problems, successes, failures, for lateness and time. If you are stressed out your crew will feel it. There is no way you can show it, otherwise production will fail.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

Anna (Cinematographer) : Honestly, I didn’t find any issues to compromise with except one roll of film we had haha, which is a bit more than 5 min of footage in total.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Anna (Cinematographer) : My team was my close friends. Having a great team is 50% success. Good people will keep you in a right mood and give you back even more than you expect. It’s very important to listen to your crew. If they give you any piece of advise listen to it, don’t pretend that you’re the smartest on set, their ideas might be super helpful.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Anna (Cinematographer) : Different audiences are looking for different films, mood, experience. Some people like Hollywood blockbusters while other are big fans of European indie movies. I feel that the best thing I can do is to stay honest with my audience and myself. I don’t shoot scripts I don’t like. If I don’t feel connected to the story it will be disrespectful to director and audience to shoot it, because I won’t be able to tell the story in a best way.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Anna (Cinematographer) : For me film festivals are, first of all, a great opportunity to network with other filmmakers and the best way to give life to your film. Unfortunately, so many short films stay on hard drives and are never seen by anybody. By the way, Nikita creates a great network right now that will give a “new life” to big amount of short films. It’s called “No Longer Network”. If I’m not mistaken it works in beta version right now, but you can already submit your film on it.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

Anna (Cinematographer) : I believe that as long as you have a great story to tell it doesn’t matter which style you use to do it. Good story matters. If you’re honest with yourself and your story and you are able to support it with the right production, performance, cinematography and editing you will get a successful film, which audience be connected with.