Interview with director Dzen Yevstygneykin

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

I remember back in the 90s, when I was a kid, my parents used to film various events of our family and neighbor’s life on their old VHS camera and edited everything on a home video player, they caught each moment of life on a tape. Most likely it was the first thing that aroused my interest in the shooting process.

Also my childhood idol was Jackie Chan and I dreamed of becoming a stuntman and making movies with tricks. Probably it all started from that time, with all the special effects and tricks that I was so impressed by as a child, and later, when I’ve got my director’s education, I began to perceive film production as story telling, as something bigger than just production.

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

I think it is not, but there is a basic knowledge that every director needs to know and it doesn’t matter whether you get that knowledge from books or from the university.  More significant thing is style of the director, which can be obtained only by accumulating own experience.

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

To get things started is always difficult, but then you discover yourself already sailing with your team in one boat, and the process of filming is so exciting for everyone from the crew that you obviously don’t want to stop. In our industry you have to make hard decisions, improvise, sometimes you are even not sure what will come out as a result, it’s like an experiment … basically for me the most difficult thing was to deal with kind of uncertainty.

  • 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 major principle in the process of filming is to enable each member of my crew to blow the cover and show off the talent. I’ve learned to trust and listen to those I create with.

  • 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 did everything fairly quickly, because the weather gave us that possibility and nothing prevented our pace of preparation. In terms of time we were really poor, but I truly believe that we are very lucky guys. Starting from the casting, when two wonderful actors showed up, exactly as I saw them in my head. It was a match! Shooting with them was continuous pleasure, guys got into the roles immediately.  We shot 11 days in row and it was difficult. But I lucky me, I have the best team, everyone enjoyed the process, everyone had fun. Basically with the help of each crew member, we succeed.

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

The scene of the COOK NOW culinary contest was challenging. It was necessary to find a big location and adjust it correctly with nice light, decorations, so that it did not look like other contests. There were proper art decisions when teams got dropped out of the participants. Cooking and presentation of dishes, which means that food stylists should have a specially equipped space and tons of products.

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

All team members are my true friends, that is why we are called Best Friends Film Production. I have been acquainted with most of them for many years and each of them is a true diamond, everyone is talented in their own way.

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

The audience wants to get impressions and emotions and, of course, director’s task is to make a film in such way so that it evokes emotions. When the viewer is torned up from emotions, from tears to laugh, when he has an appetite or some desire to do something straight after he watched your film – it means you are doing everything right! The film is an emotion.

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

First of all it is feedback. It’s nice to know that your work is appreciated and thanks to film festivals, you can get a real objective assessment of your work. We’ve visited film festivals in different countries, met so many people from different industries and this allows to expand your horizons, create new projects, create collaborations. Our works have collected many awards and each festival was different in its own way. We became friends with ministers, diplomats, producers and new projects are underway …

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

Of course, the director should be an individual and create his own recognizable style. It’s same as an artist, his works are valuable when paintings have a distinctive feature from the rest. This is what every director needs to aspire to.