Interview with director Alena Shevchenko

Shot with NOMO 503CW.
  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

Yes. I went in Munich to study German language and took my camera to make small videos about this trip. I was so inspired by the process of making video and telling stories of my classmates. After this trip I  decided that I want to develop in profession way and make films.

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

I think a film school has a great impact on your career, because it’s important to be surrounded by people who also are crazy about making films. Such atmosphere is really creative, magical and pushes you. I wish I could study again, because I like being student and even make a homework. I just like the process and I enjoy it. But I also believe that you can be a professional filmmaker without film school. Internet/master classes and personal experience are powerful tools.

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

For me it was harder to begin, because I just doubt that I can do anything special. I don’t know anybody who also was addicted to making films like me. I don’t have soulmates at the beginning. I think that filmmaking is all about team work. And the most difficult is find your people. Sometimes it takes years.  Coming back to previous questions – film school can help find people.

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

Unfortunately, all important lessons you get from failure. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.  One of the biggest lesson I have learned, never work with people with who you don’t have emotional connection. It’s really important to create any story.

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

I have wonderful team and with every person I have unique story of meeting and friendship.
For example, Victoria Pavalova with whom we wrote the screenplay “I’ll say it first’ I have hilarious story. I visited a great performance in Moscow about first love, after the show we discussed this play with friends, and I was very loud like “OMG it’s amazing! I really love this play” at this moment a girl came to us and told ‘I’ am a director of this performance’ It was Victoria and we feel that we can collaborate from the first second as we see each other. So usually just small talk can help you and feel the person. I just feel it immediately. And if we catch a connection I  listen what is important for this person and why. I think we always should listen to each other.

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

I believe that if you tell a personal true story It always finds his audience. And it’s always fine if somebody doesn’t like your film. Tastes are different. Just do what you like and what you believe in.

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

I think that festivals make longer the life of a film, also It’s important to understand that the story which has happened to you also find audience in different part of the world. I mean that festivals like test your story, it is working or not.  And of course, meeting new people! Networking and collaboration is the most important part of filmmaking.

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

Yes, I believe that filmmaker should be original. But it’s very individual. Like I believe that there is nothing new under the sun, but if it’s new to you, it’s new. I mean if you are addicted to any style (even classic) – use it. Anyway you have your own background and it will appear in your work for sure whether you want it or not. And it will be something new already.