Interview with director Anton Dolganov

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

In 2017, I was invited as a second cameraman to shoot two TV series after I made a film about the film. When I saw how a large film production works, how a film crew works, met everyone and was a part of the film crew, I realized that cinema is mine, that I got obsessed with it, and then I thought that someday I would be a director of this “organism”.

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

Yes, I think that if there is such an opportunity not to go all the way only in practice, it is better to find a mentor and go to study at a film school where there are teachers who meet your requirements. But you can make good movies without education. We have many examples.

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

The hardest thing is to keep going. Because at the initial stage, any idea seems more interesting than when you have already begun to manufacture it. I am learning to enjoy the process and I feel that it is very important to have certain character traits in order to be able to continue and see through.

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

My main lesson in life, in which I did not believe for a long time, is not to be afraid to trust the team. Because for a long time I believed only in myself and was a supporter of the fact that if you want to do well, do it yourself. In fact – if you want to do well – find a great team, or grow it – then everything will be fine.

  • 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?

We really approached the creation of the film as professionally as possible. We treated the casting in such a way that our film is local and the actors must also be local. It seems to me that this greatly influenced the fact that any of these actors understand their role in the story and also understand the place, location, habits and events that can be connected in real life with each of them.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

It was very difficult for me – making a decision with titles. Because the credits were supposed to be different, even more interesting, more complex, but since the film itself was already ready, the author of the credits and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we would stop at the result that we have now. Since we obviously did not have enough experience and time to do what was originally intended. Here we showed a some kind of compromise.

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

Since I am the founder of a video studio, I have colleagues working with me and I have also had to organize large film crews, where I took different specialists into the team. When it came time to do my own project on my own initiative, and not commercial advertising, many people supported me. Everyone I contacted told me – “Yes! We want to make a movie!” Moreover, many of our team worked for the idea, for free. How did it happen? I think the long disposition and a lot of cool result that I showed earlier helped other people to believe in me.

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

When you make your first debut movie, of course you worry about how the audience will perceive it and try to abstract and imagine how this film will look on the big screen – ridiculous, or funny, or not beautiful enough. Therefore, I often relied on how the finished film would look and took some breaks in the work on the film and did not watch it for a long time already in the finished state in order to imagine how the audience would see it for the first time.

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

At the moment, winning this film festival is our first award. Sharing this information with my film crew, I felt how important it is for everyone around. This is a great reason to acknowledge the hard work the team has put into making this film. Also for me it is a certain status and it helps me to work on new projects. Also, it is important to understand that your work is evaluated in other countries.

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

I think it’s cool to be fresh and smart-mouthed, but it’s impossible to be if you’ve never tried to keep the classics. That’s why I think it’s very difficult to show any kind of freshness in the opening. It would be nice to try to do at least within the framework of the classical form of cinema.