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AN INTERVIEW WITH Natalia Kulagina, DIRECTOR & PRODUCER
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.
Greetings! My name is Natalia Kulagina. I am a writer, screenwriter, filmmaker. In 2008, I wrote the book "Ice hole."
For the unique creation of the image of the North, I was awarded the title of "Miss Arctic".
I started my career working as a director of television programs on rock music. I always tried to ensure that the camera was not an obstacle between the characters and the viewer. To do this, I studied psychology and monitored my characters before shooting,
in order to know in advance their best angles and reactions. The result of this work - I got the best interviews.
The director is an ideal observer. He should not give an assessment of what is happening. He captures life as it is.
For this reason, I chose two of all professions: a writer and a director.
Let us know why you became a filmmaker?
I am sure that they are not becoming directors, but are born. Making a film is easier than explaining to yourself why this is impossible.
My personal conflict is the conflict of the inner writer with the inner director. First of all, I am a screenwriter.
I prefer simple solutions: I come up with fantastic stories and I can shoot them in absolutely realistic scenery.
Give us some more information about the films you have made so far, about your experience?
I made about a hundred programs and television films, and I realized that television does not give me the opportunity to talk
about serious things. I left Moscow for the North. I wrote books and made films in the experimental genre. Once my book received public recognition, and I was awarded the title of "Miss Arctic". This award opened my way to the Arctic. I gathered a film crew and we went on an icebreaker to conquer the Arctic Ocean. In extreme conditions, I first acted as a producer, screenwriter of a feature film.
It was an amazing experience: in four months we shot and edited the film. All the music for the film was written on this ship.
And the premiere of the film took place there! So I realized that the shorter the film production cycle, the better.
Since then I began to work on projects in the style of a reality show.
What are the films or people that had impacts on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I was formed by such directors as Woody Allen, all films of the Dogma 95 concept, the old Hollywood movie with
Judy Garland - The Wizard of Oz, all Charlie Chaplin films, films with Audrey Hepburn. I like all the movies in the style of laughter through
tears, for example, "Life Is Beautiful" Of course, I did not go past the movies: "E.T. ", "Paul", "Earth to Echo".
I think that films are not only a means of communication between people, but also a means of communication between space civilizations.
What films can be shown to space aliens so that they understand everything about us without unnecessary words?
I will not be original, but I would show the film directed by Billy Wilder "Some Like It Hot" and my film "A Spoon of Stardust."
He is kind, cheerful, but has a unique philosophy. Its meaning is deep, despite the outward simplicity. My film is a tribute to all the brilliant directors who raised me as a person. I sent virtual greetings to each of them. I made a film that I missed as a child.
What are your favorite genres to work on? Why?
My favorite genre is a psychological experiment. I have shooting and editing skills, so I give up all that is superfluous and minimize
the budget for the production of the film. I am interested in the person in the proposed circumstances. In the desert,
on the pole, in the forest, in prison, in space. I wonder what he will do on the verge of life and death? Will survive, accomplish a feat or betrayal?
At the center of my work is the life of an ordinary person who can perform an extraordinary act. And I'm trying to understand why he did just that. All I need for the film is a man on the background of nature.
Your film “A Spoonful of Stardust“ was officially selected in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
We shot this film in just 10 days. I acted as a screenwriter, operator, director of editing, and also played two roles in the film.
I argued with a professional director that in cinema, the main thing is story, not budget. And I decided to spend on the film no more than 1 dollar.
I painted the main episodes of the film and its structure, and the dialogs were created in the process of shooting, in the style of improvisation.
Instead of professional lighting equipment, I used only sunlight. It was important not to get caught in the rain, because one of
the characters in the film - Ion - is a cardboard doll. We knew what the film was about, how it would end, but flexibly adapted to all the circumstances offered by nature. At the time of shooting, it seemed to me that the whole space helps us. At the right time the sun came out,
at the right time the lighting changed. I think that nature and creative people are in the same cosmic source of inspiration.
If their efforts are combined, prophecy films are obtained. I shot this movie in 2018. But even then prophetic words sounded in it: a threat to humanity, a virus, flu, blood transfusion. Two years ago, we were so far from reality with our apocalypse. But, unfortunately, this movie has become relevant. The Intergalactic organization plans to destroy humanity for bad behavior. Only one astronaut rebelled against such a decision
and ended up on Earth ... He must have time to return to the Intergalactic Base Station in 72 hours in order to save the Earth from destruction.
Teenagers help him in this. They are funny, but not very smart.
In the form of a comedy, we formulated the main problem of our time and showed the way out of the crisis. And they did it for only one dollar.
I won the argument. I hope in real life there are people and cosmic forces who will stand for the salvation of the Earth and will not allow the death of all mankind. We tried very hard for the world to follow exactly such a development scenario.
How did you choose your teenagers as the lead role for your film, they are so good and relax in front of the camera,
please let us more about their experience?
One of the teenagers had nowhere to go, she is my daughter. In my films, she gained her first experience working in front of the camera.
The second teenager is our friend. He is very artistic. Their teachers were Charlie Chaplin, Vivien Leigh and many other brilliant actors.
Teens from childhood, on summer nights in the attic, on the projector, watched only old movies ... And most importantly, they did not play.
Two years ago, they were at that strange age when they were still happy with cartoons, they believed in green men, but they already
wanted to fall in love. And in this internal conflict, green men win. My young actors really believed that the fate of the world
was in their hands and saved it as they could. Of course, they relied on the audience experience and slightly parodyed their favorite cartoon characters: "Gravity Falls", "Rick and Morty ". At the end of the film, teens became like toons, and the real doll in my hands became a real person.
This change of roles was a successful find of the film.
As a filmmaker, why did you make your Narrative Feature Film “A Spoonful of Stardust“ and why you decided to make it with Mobile Phone?
A smartphone has become much more than a means of communication between people. It is a mirror of life. I spied and studied with my actors how they take selfies, stories, how they conduct their social networks.
Ten years ago, I helped to disassemble photos from my child’s smartphone and realized that not a single operator would take such a shot as my eight-year-old daughter did. Such an angle would simply not occur to him. I wanted to put these treasures in one video sequence.
Once I asked myself a question what will future civilizations understand about us if only one smartphone is left from our reality?
So the final scene of the film was born in my head, and everything else was invented for her. The smartphone has become a source of inspiration and a tool in the shooting for one reason teenagers are not afraid of it! When the smartphone’s camera turns on, teenagers see this as a good sign: it's time to relax and become a better version of yourself. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but it works.
For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn?
It is important to always stay in touch with your inner child. He is a prophet, storyteller, buffoon. Sometimes it interferes,
but as long as it is able to inspire, a fountain of creative ideas will beat in the soul.
The inner child is a real force that can work miracles. Shooting this film allowed to release it outside and enjoy communicating with each other. As soon as I picked up the doll it came to life!
My child woke up and turned our world into a creative madhouse.
The whole film is made from the heart, not from the head. And it all worked out! The best I can do for myself is to give free rein to my inner child. Believe in him/her and say - I love you! Do what you want!
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
I am inspired by the thought - what will our world be like tomorrow? What new can I bring to it? How to combine traditions, experience
and creative ideas of the future. How to stay relevant?
Scriptwriters and directors are not aware that the future is
shaped by their thoughts,
scripts and films. It is not surprising
that every season we have a new apocalypse.
Cinema provides a choice only in the version of the
end of the world. Which way do you prefer to die today?
I am inspired by the opportunity to laugh through tears, to make romantic comedies
or films in the fantasy genre.
Perhaps only in comedies can one find a source of positive
forces that will help us make sense of our existence.
What are your filmmaking goals?
The goal of filmmaking is new filmmaking. There is never too much work. I admire Woody Alain, who can make two films in a year.
And do it as if for the first time! Every day I want to find a reason for surprise. I have ideas, scenarios, filming technologies,
talented actors and composers. The world cannot be changed, but
if we do not do this, the world will not have this chance.
What is your next project?
Many nations have a saying: “If you want to make God laugh,
tell him about your plans” This year, most people on Earth have
failed to realize their plans. Therefore, I’ll carefully say that
my next project is the new film “Happiness”.
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