Interview with director Gregory Yarin

I was born in Moscow, Son of the author and translator Alexander Yarin and artist and painter Marina Belkevich, and i have 8 siblings. I started as stills photographer on film at the age of 16. I made 2 years course from VGIK(Moscow University of Cinema). I immigrated to Israel in 2010. I served in IDF’s tank forces. After this I went to study cinema in Tel Aviv University. I made two short films during my studies.

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

I grew in an artistic family, this kind of storytelling was always something discussed, as well as other artistic ways of expression.  Whether it was painting or writing or filmmaking. Unfortunately, painting is not my strong side, so I turned to photography and further to filmmaking. 

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

For making films, you either need a lot of money o a lot of friends. University gave me the opportunity to acquire a lot of friends, which allowed me to make my films. I think it is the best option for a person without money. So in general, the institution was a good idea.

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

If something goes easy, than it probably goes wrong. The only thing that can help is visioning the final result in your mind.

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

The less people on set, the better the process goes. Also, cheap coffee takes higher price later.

  • 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?

Besides the main actor, with whom I have worked before, we had difficulties finding the right actors and staff for all the other roles. In one episode in my film. I participate myself. This challenge was true regarding all the other aspects of the production. So, compromising was always an issue but I got by with a little help from my friends.

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

The scene in the bar was originally supposed to be with a lot more stats, but since we didn’t succeed in bringing enough people I had to create the surreal atmosphere I was seeking using other forms of expression. So instead I left the bar empty except the actors.

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

This is my second time working with team on set. During this time I got to know them better.  You have to be a little bit of politician to work with people and to realize who you can work with and who you can’t work with.

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

The audiences want an experience. I want them to have it, but not for free. I want them to do an inner work in order to get it. This is the only way it can be really personal for everyone. I wouldn’t like to dictate my audience what they should feel. 

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

There is no point in making films if no one sees them. Festivals are the platform that allows it. the second important role they play for me is the opportunity to meet new people and potentially to get resources for my future works.

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

Nothing new is possible without learning the classics first. But no matter how you try you will never manage to make a film like Tarkovsky or any other director. In any way you are going to create something new. Because cinema is always related to the time that it is made.