An insight into the world of filmmaking with Vitaly Verlov- A Russian motion Graphics designer & VFX artist
Please introduce yourself to the readers and how you first get into Film production?
Hi, my name is Vitaly Verlov and I was born in the city of Novosibirsk, Western Siberia, Russia. Novosibirsk is often called “the Capital of Siberia” and, as a matter of fact, it’s true. It’s a large urban industrial, scientific and cultural center with aircraft production factories, prominent fundamental research facilities and the biggest opera theater in Russia. However it’s probably not the best place for filmmaking. The way I got into film production is pretty much convoluted. After graduating with a degree in computer science, I moved to Moscow specifically to work as a motion graphics designer and visual effects artist for television and film. There was no inconsistency in having a computer programming background and working as a visual designer because I’ve always been interested in artistic applications of computer technologies so computer graphics programming was the path to follow.
Even my thesis work was focused on developing a software platform for motion graphics and visual effects production. However a little later, I decided to abandon programming and switched to producing visuals and graphic design using the industry standard tools in commercial manner, so I started doing broadcast motion graphics and VFX for television and film. Motion graphics is storytelling, not just random designs and visual effects. For instance, a TV show opener is actually an animated piece which tells a short story. I became fascinated with this. However, there was one thing missing: motion graphics design often lacks human heart and emotion because obviously it’s a fancy design oriented medium which offers no characters that viewers can associate with. That’s how I came to conclusion that I had to take an evolutionary move forward to scripted live action filmmaking.
Who were some of your influences in the film and motion picture industry?
When I was a kid, in the early ’90s, I was blown away by two motion pictures: Aliens and Terminator 2. Both films were written and directed by James Cameron. Simple and coherent plots with a love story behind breakthrough visuals – I was sold. To this day I think Terminator 2 is the best action film ever made.
What do you remember the most about your first project?
It wasn’t easy but it was exciting. For a variety of reasons I had to do all the pre-production myself, including storyboarding, location scouting, renting gear, and it’s a little bit overwhelming but also gives you a solid experience and understanding of how film production works from all perspectives. The film is called Forever After and has been an official selection at several film festivals in LA and SF, plus it has been programmed into a special section (Coup de Coeur, Favorites) of the Short Film
Corner in Cannes.
What has been the biggest achievement so far in your film career?
Producer Nigina Niyazmatova and myself were able to cast well-known Hollywood actor Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight, The Expendables) for a sci-fi short film I’ve written and directed. It’s called Redux. By the way, New York Film Academy LA plans to include this film in a special program for educational purposes. I should also add, that I haven’t even been a student of NYFA!
What kind of projects are you working on right now?
I have a couple of short film scripts written, that I am working. Also my feature film script got to the quarterfinals of the Page Awards and later I had been contacted by a literary manager regarding this script. The script is a coherent character-driven sci-fi/action/drama story set in the present and in the garish ’80s. As to my visual effects work, I was recently invited by Pixomondo (they made visuals for Game of Thrones, e.g.) to work on a Chinese big budget feature where I ended up working as a lead effects artist. Right now I’m working on a series of live action idents for a leading music channel in Russia, RUTV: we shot Russian pop stars on green screen and are now doing all the post production.
What would be your ideal project to work on?
It’s no secret that the film industry is a tough place. There is big money involved, so there’s a high pressure. I mean, I don’t believe there is such a thing as an ideal project per se. To me an ideal project would be the one where you would have enough time, resources, skills and permission to pull off at least three quarters of what you had envisioned in your mind, relatively speaking. By the way, I believe this is true for projects of all scales: very small independent films to big studio productions.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Not sure about personalities. I like to work with interested and dedicated people who treat a project not just as another job, but as an opportunity to make something great, hopefully.
Are you pleased with the state of the current film industry or do you think that more quality productions should be out there?
People complain that Hollywood has lost it’s creative edge and no longer making original films, obsessed with remakes, reboots, or films based on comic books and video games. This is certainly true to some degree and is the result of the way the entertainment industry evolves. They call it business after all. But if you take a further look right through the thick layer of the big budget extravaganza, there still are quality original character-driven films being made out there, with great
performances and cinematography.
What would your advice be to aspiring artists/producers?
In my early days as a VFX artist, I had this enthusiastic habit of making what I had called the daily images: the goal was to draw a few artistic images per week, at home, in front of my computer, just for fun and training, and post them on the Internet to a design community. After a year or so of this shady enterprise, I was invited to work at a big post production studio in Moscow because they liked some of the images. This is how I got into the post production industry. When I felt that I had to move forward to live action filmmaking, I made a short film with my own money. A couple of years later, I’ve done a short film with a Hollywood star. Basically what I’m implying here is pretty straight forward (and it actually still applies to me): try to stop being aspiring and start making something just for the sake of it. Start the process and watch
how everything unfolds!
We recently sat down with popular UK actor Adrian Annis about his influences growing up in the acting world, his upcoming projects and his advice to aspiring actors.
Hi Adrian, first of all, when did you first decide to get into performing?
You may know me from the last two Harry Potter films where I played a Deatheater. I actually got into performing (in the acting sense) a little later in life, after I went on impulse to some drama classes. By the second lesson, I was hooked and within 18 months I’d given up my regular job and became a full time actor.
Who would you say influenced and inspired you growing up?
My inspirations are not your regular choices like De Niro, Pacino, Brando etc. Although I do look up to those guys. Nicholas Cage is a big inspiration to me as he has such charisma and character that you become so drawn to him. He’s not the most attractive guy but he just has that “can’t take your eyes off him” type of quality. Also, Gary Oldman for being the ultimate chameleon, Vincent Cassell for his intensity, Kevin Bacon for his work rate and so many others
What kind of training have you had, if any?
I’ve mainly taken classes and after some initial lessons, I had the choice of applying for drama school or just diving in head first. I chose the former and was lucky enough to get cast. Yes, I made a load of mistakes but I learned quickly as the pressure was on. It may not be the way for a number of people but it worked for me. A year or so back I did apply to both RADA and LAMDA in the UK to attend their summer courses. I was very pleased to get accepted in both but after a good look at my career and chatting to my agent and colleagues, I decided to decline them both. I’m not a theatre actor. although I respect that side of the craft, I’ve always loved film and TV work. I felt I’d just be attending so I could wear that badge of “drama school trained” on my sleeve.
What has been your favorite role to play so far?
I have been lucky to have played a number of great life changing roles. The exposure and financial aspects of being in the Harry Potter series, The process and arc of playing such diverse characters as Karl in ‘The Car’, Sht William Philpot in “Fur Meinen Vater’ and Willie in “Art of Darkness’. However the role I loved playing the most was in a small short called Aldo. It was an ensemble piece and a very personal film for the director. We did a very emotional scene with no dialogue, just silence and tension. It could not have lasted more than a minute. When “cut” had finally been announced, the director came up to all three of us that were in the scene crying tears of pure emotion. It was as if he had just remembered the actual event the scene was taken from. That really moved all of us.
What has been one of your biggest achievements in your career so far?
My biggest achievement is obviously being successful in my career and loving what I do. So many people fall to the wayside in this industry because they come into it with a blinkered vision of what it really is. Those people are quickly exposed as it can be very brutal. The people who are truly in it for the right reasons, are the ones you see of and hear of time and time again. So my biggest achievement is finding a career that I truly love and I’m passionate about and most importantly, that I’m still here and working.
What project/projects are you currently working on?
I’m slated to be in four films that are due to start production within the next 6 months. One is a period drama (The Secret of Botticelli) that is shooting in Florence with it’s sequel (Botticelli Murders) being filming right after. Also, a Prison drama and Sci-fi thriller. Both only have working titles at present. So, a busy time ahead and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
If there was someone in particular you would like to have the chance to work alongside, past or present, who would it be?
Well all of the actors I mentioned previously, for sure. Director wise, apart from the big boys, Coppola, Scorcese, Tarantino, Fincher and Nolan. Also, the up and coming directors such as Duncan Moon, Jean Marc Valle, to name just a few.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are to work with the guys above!!!! To continue working with great people on great productions, with amazing scripts. Then, to concentrate on more US productions. It’s the hub of the industry.
What is your advice to aspiring performers?
My main piece of advice is to work, work and WORK!! Nothing beats experience. However, most importantly, enjoy every step of your journey!
This actor known as Pavle Mara is amazing! We’ve seen a lot of actors push themselves before, but not like Pavle pushes himself. He is in this business for the long run and it seems that nothing slows him down or deters him from his goal, which is to be the best actor that he can possibly be. The Army’s catch phrase of “Be all you can be” should have been written specifically for Pavle, because that’s exactly what he’s going to do – be all that he can be.
If you ask him to do an accent in an audition, he’ll look at you straight faced and ask you which one do you want to hear? Of course, the producers will soon find out that he can do just about any accent in the world, making him a real chameleon. He also speaks four languages quite fluently: English, Spanish, Serbian and Chinese.
If that doesn’t fit the definition of amazing, then how about what he does to keep fit. Pavle is a martial artist who also knows how to box and he loves to play volleyball, basketball and swimming. (Does this guy ever slow down)? He also plays the drums, guitar, bongos and bass guitar and writes and records his own music. And if that’s not enough for someone to say, “Yes, he’s amazing,” then what about his Fine Arts Degree in acting from New York Film Academy?
Well, just talking about all of his talents can make a writer tired, but perhaps we should add some of his accomplishments in film and theatre. He went all the way to Beijing, China to accept the role of Copernicus in “Love of The Nightingale.” In Singapore he played Baker in “Into The Woods,” and then came back to Los Angeles to high praise and much applause to play Captain Hook in “Peter Pan The Musical.” Wow, all that traveling could make anyone else tired and want to take a long vacation. But not Pavle. He went on to Serbia to be featured in Darko Bajic’s well-received feature film called “We Will Be The World Champions,” (Bicemo Prvaci Sveta). Also his role in the short film “Interrupted” landed the short a spot on the Dances With Films Festival’s Fusion Shorts circuit.
After that, Pavle was cast in the role of George Saltino in the Los Angeles filmed movie, “Killing Joan” and snagged an important part in the 2016 Dark Water Production’s thriller “Slade”. He’s currently working on “Batman Beyond, The Series” for TV and preparing for his role of a mysterious loan shark named Tim in a web-series called “Officers”. Apparently he’s not planning on taking a vacation anytime soon.