An arrogant sailor is bothering the Minister of Health by trying to help, but the situation is getting worse. The story is based on a play by Anton Chekhov "The Death of a Government Clerk". Filipp Romanychev, the director of the film spoke to Toronto Film magazine about the making of his film.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
The first short movie we made with my wife Anna in 2019. It was about a couple, which couldn’t resolve their issues, and all their conflicts ended up in a domestic violence way. The topic of domestic violence in Russia at that time was everywhere, because at that year domestic violence was decriminalized in Russia. The idea of the movie started at our balcony, which had a hole in the floor. We thought that it would collapse one day. Then we wrote a script about a couple and at the end the balcony collapses as well as their relationship. I watched a bunch of videos on YouTube about camera position, composition and lighting. Still, I was not sure that we will be able to find actors. I was holding several casting sessions, for some of them I rented a studio, for others I met actors at a cafe, where I recorded the castings, if there were a few people coming to casting. Eventually, I found actors and we rehearsed several times at my place. We shot it for 8 hours and I felt that it was the best thing I ever did. We were so excited with Anna, that we could not sleep the night after the shoot. Later, I applied for a director’s course in Moscow to develop my director’s skill set.
What genre of filmmaking are you looking to work on and why?
I am looking forward to work with such genres as comedy, sci-fi, adventure, action, horror, thriller, drama. I can’t pick one genre, because there are different stories, which I would like to tell. But these genres will always get an emotional response from the audience.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker?
The most challenging aspect is that it takes a lot of time to gain any kind of money from your movies. Since 2020 and till now I have four short movies that I made. One of them was on festivals for a year and a half, so I couldn’t show it publicly. Soon I will upload all my short films on Amazon Prime and maybe I will be able to gain profits out of it. Another challenge is marketing your movie. I think every film maker should get a marketing course in order to get the right audience for his/her movie.
How challenging is it to fund indie films?
It is always challenging, although I never tried to fund films in USA. In Russia the only source of financing for movies is the government. Therefore, I always financed all my movies by myself due to the fact that I wanted to make movies, which are showing real problems, not some propaganda movies, which are made for the Government and its goals.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. How have they been influential in your work?
The first director would be Guy Ritchie. His dynamic style was always inspirational to me as well as he works with editing in his movies. Also, I like his sense of humor and how he makes humor visual.
The second director is definitely Peter Jackson. His trilogies “The Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” are terrific. I love his way of story telling. “King Kong” is another movie made by Peter Jackson and that was the movie inspired me to become a director. One of my first attempts to make a real movie was in childhood, when I was twelve years old. I made a movie by using toys and we shot it on the phone with my friend at the country side. “King Kong” had a great influence on it.
Finally, the third director that inspires me is Thomas Vinterberg. You might know him by such movies as The Hunt (2012), Another round (2020), Kursk (2018). His movies don’t have any explosions or special effects, but even if they have this is not the main thing why you want to watch them. His movies are constructed as an event, which was taken from a real life. And the distinctive feature of his movies is that they are mesmerizing from the first scene. His movies are full of charisma, so you will not be able to get distracted by anything, while you watch his movies.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
My next project is an experimental comedy feature, which is about film making students, who are faking a travel show in Los Angeles in order to apply for an O1 visa. I am editing it right now and it is called “Tripping with Fibi”. It will be available soon on Amazon Prime.
What was the inspiration behind your latest film project?
The inspiration for “Tripping with Fibi” were different Russian improvisational shows, which I used to watch. I always liked improvisation and we decided with my wife Anna to create several episodes of travel show with a back story of how it was made. Eventually, we realized that we can make a feature movie out of it. It is an experimental comedy genre, because it is a mixture of blogging and a movie. We mix goofy made travel episodes with backstage, where we discuss how should the story evolve and how we overcome different obstacles. In my case, the inspiration usually comes when I watch or read a story or a setting for the story and then I try to develop it. With my short film The Death of the Government Clerk (2022) the inspiration came, when I read the original play, written by Anton Chekhov. I liked the idea and I decided to implement it in a nowadays setting.
How did you find the cast and the crew of the film?
Well, usually I work with the same crew. Before shooting The Death of the Government Clerk (2022) I made another movie with the same actors and in a same style. It is called Rendezvous (2022). So, when I found Chekhov’s play, I immediately knew that this story should be told in the same way.
What is the distribution plan of the film and did the film receive any screenings or was it featured in festivals?
The Death of the Government Clerk (2022) so far was screened only at Venice Shorts California. Right now, me and Anna are figuring out the marketing plan for several short movies that we made. After we figure out the marketing plan for our short films, they will be available at Amazon Prime.
Why do you make films and what kind of impact would your work have on the world?
I am making movies, because it is my passion and I want to discuss significant issues that exist in the society. I like getting the hard work done and then screen a movie to my family and friends. The best thing is to see their reactions, especially with the comedy genre. I see that I can make people happy, even if it lasts for only 10 minutes. We live during very hard times, so it is a necessity, in my opinion, to let people have fun from time to time and forget about their problems. And I wish some of them to find a deep meaning behind the entertaining pictures.