Interview with director Orkhan Abulov

SHORT BIO OF THE DIRECTOR: Orkhan Abulov was born in 1992, in Moscow. Studied in Moscow international film school. Twice laureate of the “Artistic word of Russia” Contest. Graduated from Moscow theatre school. Performs in the plays of Russian state theatre “Satyricon”. Participated in master-classes of Roma Film Academy rector, Adriano De Santis. Starred in Russian films “Legends about Krug”, “Paupers”, “Trotsky”, “Vertinsky”, “Syrian sonata”. Since 2016, adopted a role of a film director.

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

Surely yes, there were many of events. Another thing that I am not always so sure about place of filmmaking in modern world. There are so many other ways of storytelling which develop with the advance of technology. But I love filmmaking. One days I am utterly inspired and I create things with this memory of the first time I watched “The Lion King” in my childhood, deeply excited, moved to tears. Other days I feel frustration and sadness, asking myself: does my work make sense? That’s my day-to-day search.

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

I believe that education is essential, and in most cases a film institute provides every opportunity to study art history, to be in a global context etc. Despite this, there are people who are capable of educating themselves without going to a film institute, and that’s great. Some of these people are now known worldwide.

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

As theater actors in Russia say, “one drinks because there is no demand for him, another drinks because he is extra popular”. So I wouldn’t say that one thing is “harder” than the other, they are just different. As for me, I prefer to keep going: once you’ve begun, you realize that the difficulty level is no longer important because going your own way is fascinating. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard, all of this becomes just one another chapter in your story.

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

I think that the most important lesson was that dedication and love are much stronger than limited budget and limitations that are being put by film studios and society.

  • 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?

Actually I realize that my production was all made of compromises. But, despite this, the result was cohesive. My “tuning fork” was remember about the original idea, remember the pain of the film, feel it at every stage of production. Once you remember about this “helicopter view”, you will never destroy the integrity of the film.

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

The most difficult choice was to cut out the role of the protagonist’s friend. It was really hard for us. But this decision has opened up opportunities for further imagination, and we eventually came up with a creative solution: our protagonist has conversations with the ducks.

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

All members of the team are trusted and important people for me, and our relations have been developing from project to project. Only the best have remained over the time. I strongly believe that it is extremely important to fall in love in a talent and be in love with a talent, and court it as if it were your beloved woman. Love is what bonds the team together.

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

To worry about that isn’t the filmmaker’s role, and yet the filmmaker keeps worrying. The filmmaker has no obligation to the audiences, the filmmaker often wants to be the one who decides. But the reality doesn’t work like that. The truth is that the audiences shape the landscape and decide the future. The audiences is the one who really decide.

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

Film festivals are essential to boost a cinematographer.