Interview with director Katya Telegina

Shot with NOMO 135 M3.


Katya Telegina is a film, commercial and music video director based in Moscow. She was born and raised in Omsk, Siberia, Russia. After a few years of studying in different fields and working as a photographer for the international model agency, she moved to Moscow and graduated from The Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (aka VGIK). Katya brings her inspirations — modern architecture, art, and dance — into her auteur works, in which she explores interrelations of plastics, color combinations and forms.  

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

I dreamt making movie since 10.

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

We all know directors who never finished film school. Before HD era film institutes gave a ticket to film industry. Today you can do movie with phone. But I’m graduated film school and I got a lot from it. It’s not only the knowledge, it’s the environment, the competition with the classmates, 4 years of classic movie screenings on the big screen and much more. I feel it is my basis.

  • 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 part was learning the lesson!

  • 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 lesson was literally a surfing lesson. How to keep your balance and slide through the tide of circumstances you didn’t expect. The surfing 2020))))

  • 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?

Usually when I work on the passion project I invite collaborators but to this project I was invited by them.  There was a duo – the prima and the choreographer, and they already were working together on this project for a while. This was a new thing for me – to get integrated into a team and to gently take their thoughts and  find an idea and a story that will resonate with all of us. As for surprises and production realities – I’ve never had any project without them. This project was especially changeable. All points at all stages altering all that time. One moment all team members just accepted these circumstances, we decided to live in this interesting flow because it was exactly like the year 2020 that we were making the project about. Finally, it was a project about transformation at all the layers – from an idea of the video to a postproduction stage.

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

We have many years of friendship with the DP and the producers, and I met the composer few years ago. But it was just our first project with Diana and the choreographer. There is an interesting story about the set design. When I realized how exactly we should connect the dance and the set my producer gave me an idea to invite architects for this task. It was unusual because we always work with production designers over any idea or any task but in this case we saw a set more as a piece of contemporary art or an installation than as a typical art set from music videos or commercials. I am very thankful to her for this idea, it was incredibly interesting and inspiring work with people from a different art area.

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

I thought about the audience a lot few years ago but for now I am focused on the moment that is important for me. A lot of things change rapidly nowadays and most changes come from the outside and there are two ways – to constantly keep up with the departing train or to feel your own way and follow it.

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

For me, the most important thing is that as many people as possible see my film. I believe that my viewers are not at all where I can expect them to be and festivals increase the opportunity to reach these people enormously.

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

If we talk about the cinema, I believe in the visual language. Some stories need an original bizarre style, some stories will be just killed with this cinematic approach. Some of my favorite directors try to find a new way to tell the story in every new movie. For example, Paul Tomas Anderson or Steven Soderbergh. Some directors became famous with «fresh» movies but after several years they couldn’t be fresh anymore, because they became older and lost touch with the time. I can’t totally agree with the idea of a «safe style» of making movies because there is no style that can guarantee a good film. But if we talk about music videos or some trendy videos with a fresh style and almost no consistency, then it is even more of a  safe zone than creating a strong storytelling where audience can see your mistakes. So I believe in the visual language that fits my story.