In the 80-s Soviet Union, where rock and roll lovers are still being prosecuted for ‘idolizing the West’, a teenaged girl inspires her classmates to form an underground band. When the band leader fails to cope with his task, she becomes ‘The Frontman’. A sequence of comic situations with chasing and fleeing of the band leads to an unexpected dramatic turn when an innocent talk to an English tourist about rock’n’roll music leads to the heroine’s father, an engineer working on Spaceship MIR at a Top Secret site, being prosecuted for ‘contacts with foreigners’. The events of Petestroika turn the plot once more and now the heroine is free and finally able to come to the West, only to find out that it is quite far from the West of her fantasies, emerged from the tunes of rock and roll.
The Frontman was an award winner and an official selection of important festivals around the world in the past year. This included the Raindance Film Festival Script Contest Award (London) 2020, Monkeybread Tree 2020 International Film Festival Award as The Best Histrionic Piece. Prisma 2020 Rome International Film Festival and the Toronto International Women Film Festival February as an official selection. It is our pleasure to interview Alyona Lemeleva for Toronto Film Magazine.
What draws you to writing scripts?
I’ve been writing ever since I learned how to write. And before I learned, I would draw pictures and make stories out of them. A script is just like such a picture story, you just add a couple of extra skills you’ve learned during your life to enhance it.
How and when did you start studying screenwriting?
I studied literature, first in Moscow, then in New York. As for the screenwriting, I’ve learned on my own, through web resources and by reading the scripts of other people, particularly of the films I liked. Actually I think that every good book you read in life teaches you how to become a good screenwriter.
What makes screenwriting stand out to you in the language of cinema?
Writing is the beginning of it all. It’s where it all starts. It’s the base. The implementation may be good or bad, but without a good script there’s no good movie.
Do you ever plan to direct and produce one of your scripts?
Yes! In fact it is my dream.
Tell us more about The Frontman and the inspiration behind the writing of your script.
The Frontman is largely autobiographical.
The path of a young girl fighting for her freedom to just live and be herself appeared to be a universal model for showing the fragility of us human beings in this world and at the same time our enormous strength. This is what inspired me to tell this story.
What were some of the challenges of writing your script and the research that went into it?
The main challenge is the characters. The characters have to be vivid.
If you’re doing a good job your characters become alive. You then let them live their own life and the story develop according to its own internal logic, sometimes different from what you initially had in mind. If that happens, that’s magic.
What is your cinematic goal in life and what would you like to achieve as a writer?
It’s very simple. I would love to have a chance to tell people fascinating stories that have never been told before!
What kind of impact would your work have in the world and why do you think these themes are important in your script?
I’d like to share with the world the idea that there’s no reason to be afraid to follow your dream and live up to who you really are, who you were born to be. No matter how unfavorable the circumstances might seem. Now I know it for sure.