Felix Umarov, a graduate of RussianUniversity of Cinematography is most distinguishable for his stunning visuals. Among his impressive list of commercials is a great spot for Reebok, inspired by iconic art masterpieces, shows a creative and contemporary twist on tradition that Felix faithfully follows while experimenting with his work.
Hey Felix, it's great to talk with you again, how have things going?
Yes, everything is cool! A lot of work, little rest. I think everyone in our industry will answer the same!
I try to find time for both commercial projects and creativity, but this is never easy.
Congratulations on the success you've had with EDEN, did you imagine your short film would have such a great response?
To be honest, I'm used to dreaming widely. And still, I think that this is an incredible injustice that my film did not win at Cannes or was not nominated for an Oscar. Haha. In fact, I am very glad that the fate of the film continues, that he began to live his life and travels from festival to festival.
I think it can be compared with raising children - If your film goes to festivals and succeeds, you feel some kind of parental pride or something.
How did you get involved in Papaya Films Original Series 3?
Yes, this is some kind of miracle, I still do not believe that this could happen. I once walked the city after the project, I just finished shooting advertisements. I'm going and thinking. Damn, it would be cool to make a movie. Well, in terms of trying yourself finally in a larger volume. In order not to minute videos, but something that can take the viewer for a longer time. And with such thoughts, I stop in the park, feeling the vibration of the phone. I take it out of my pocket, and there is a letter from an unknown girl, and besides, in English. And in the third paragraph of the phrase “we want to invite you to participate in the Papaya Film Original Series and make your own film.”
For sure I didn’t even have a thought to refuse.
What was the experience like working with the Papaya Films team on such a unique film?
It was very cool. I liked to consult with creativity. Discuss different forms. I won’t know how many versions of editing I sent for discussion. Probably the girls still can not watch the movie with fresh eyes.
"I think cinema is primarily entertainment, so I would like the audience not to get bored for these seven and a half minutes."
Can you tell me a little bit about EDEN, what was the inspiration behind your film?
It's funny, every time I start to remember what I was inspired with, before making this film, I always get different memories. There were many factors. On the one hand, the Lust for Life theme prompted me to shots from Trainspotting. And the words Lust and Life referred to something biblical. Well, somehow the story of Adam and Eve got out by itself, but in a nightclub. And when I came up with it, it seemed to me, damn it, it’s so obvious that really no one has shot it yet. But I still haven't found something similar.
Did you have any apprehensions about filming in such cold locations?
Haha, when I wrote the script, it was + 25- on the street. I could not even imagine that in the end, our heroes would have to go in -14 outside.
Of course, there were fears. Moreover, I had to change the script a bit and make the heroes still not completely undressed (Eh, it's time to stop being so empathetic) I still can’t forgive myself. It was nevertheless necessary to be crueler and let them naked on a cold field.
How challenging was it for you to bring EDEN to life?
To be honest, it was so difficult that the period of my life when I worked on the film is still in the fog. Of course, it was Cool (in both meanings).
Very fast preparation for filming, eternal editing on New Year's holidays, then writing music. In short, the feeling that you are in a temporary capsule. The word "Action" and suddenly you find yourself in the future, three months after filming with a finished film in your hands and asking how the hell did this happen? How did time fly by so fast?
Looking back do you think there is anything you would do differently on this shoot?
Yes! As I said, I still can’t forgive myself for that naked scene ... I had to be tougher and make the actors undress completely in the cold. But okay, I have drawn conclusions and from now on I will be more “Tyrannical”. In fact, filming, and indeed, directing, is the ability to quickly make the right decision, according to one’s inner voice. Therefore, analysing the shooting, I think I always heard my inner voice and was able to translate it into reality.
How has your approach to your films changed since you started out?
It has definitely changed. It's funny when you work on a film you always fixed at a certain stage - you work on a script - you try to evaluate the script, you shoot - you focus on filming, on the camera, light, motion, stage-scenes. Editing, think about the rhythm. And so on. The hardest thing is that you can never appreciate the whole movie. You can evaluate only those stages that you are currently working on. Well, from the moment the film was completed, a lot of time has passed. And probably only now I can appreciate it with a sober look. See as an ordinary viewer. But for some reason, I’m not doing this. Maybe I'm waiting for the right moment.
Do you have any advice you would offer an emerging filmmaker?
I always tell young directors only one thing - whatever you work on, always do the best you can do. Do not be afraid to connect people who are better than you, ask questions, work to the point of exhaustion and enjoy what is happening around. Once I thought, how can you quickly achieve success in a particular business? The answer turned out to be very simple and universal for anyone. Work, Learn, Work Again.
And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from your work?
I hope they leave the room with the words, Damn, this guy has style! Honestly, it's quite difficult for me to answer the question so that I would like the audience to endure.
I think cinema is primarily entertainment, so I would like the audience not to get bored for these seven and a half minutes. In general, I hope that they will slightly reconsider their attitude to reality, that they will value what is happening around without any substances.