CLOSE-UP Culture kick-off our Raindance Film Festival 2018 coverage by chatting to Russian filmmaker Lada Chernomashentseva about her debut short film Consequences Of Any Kind.
Q: Consequences Of Any Kind is your debut film. Can you tell us how this project came together?
A: TWO years ago I got into the fight with my close friend. Nothing serious happened but it was a terrible fight and she even told me she didn’t want to be friends anymore. I was thinking about it and I decided to write our verbal fight down – that’s how I started writing my script. I showed my story to few people and one guy told me I should make a film. I said “How can I make a film? Are you insane?” A few months later, I quit my job and started building a crew to make a film.
Q: You are credited as writer, director, producer and editor on this film. How did you find the experience of being involved in every step of the filmmaking process?
A: I knew that if I didn’t make this film, no one would make it. You usually don’t have a producer when you make your debut as well as money to pay, for example, to a professional editor. I just didn’t have another option but to make it on my own. And I’m happy with it because I did everything I could do for this film. I even was a clapper despite having other things to take care. I think it was a good lesson for me that helped me to find out what I really can do.
Q: Consequences Of Any Kind focuses on a complex relationship between two women. Tell us more about the story and why you wanted to explore a relationship like this?
A: I wanted to explore a relationship where people have strong tension between each other. When they are afraid and love each other simultaneously. Of course, this story could happen between a boy and a girl but it’s more intensive and emotional if there are two women. It’s more complicated. A girl can tell a boy that she likes him and he can say no and she would cry for a day or two – but it’s ok. But if it’s a girl you like, you don’t know if there is even a chance she likes girls and you’re afraid to ruin your friendship, especially if you don’t have other friends.
My protagonist Lena feels many things about Rita and we can’t say easily whether she doesn’t understand what Rita wants from her or she is just pretending because she’s afraid of what would happen if she says yes. There are some good things in this relationship, but mostly it frustrates Lena. The thing is something attracts her in Rita badly and she can’t go away.
Q: I was extremely impressed by Evgenia Evstigneeva. What was it like working with Evgenia and what do you feel she brought to the character of Lena?
A: IT was a big pleasure, she’s very responsible and initiative. I met her after I wrote 90% of the script, but we were trying to develop a character together to make it look natural.
It’s funny now but I didn’t know how much actors influence their characters. Evgenia made a tension between her and the world stronger than I imagined and her frustration on the screen is deep. We were discussing characters a lot and Evgenia once told me she wanted to look a bit psycho after the scene when she learns about her young brother and her friend Rita. And I had the same idea in mind. I think this process made us very close.
Q: It looks as though you had a very small crew. How was the shoot? Was this a tight-knit bonding experience?
A: YES, our crew with very small, we all did as much we can do. Most of the people I worked with were working for free and I’m very grateful for that. We all didn’t know each other before we started pre-production but we became close very soon and we always had fun. I remember a shooting day when I asked my crew to stop joking because my face muscles were too tired to smile anymore.
Q: I like the way you use social media in the film. It feels natural in a similar way to Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless. How important for you was it to be able to integrate it into the story?
A: MY characters live in these days so I had to use modern instruments of communication, you just can’t escape from this part of life. These instruments are very interesting because they tell a lot about ourselves. For example, we use our imagination a lot when we are texting to another person. We interpret his words and find our own meaning of them. It means we see what we want to see and sometimes chatting with someone is like chatting with yourself.
I just wanted to make my story look natural using modern instruments but some people explore it much more deeply than me. For example, Olivier Assayas in his film Personal Shopper. He made a thriller on the screen of the iPhone and this part of his movie is very interesting. Moreover, I watched Profile by Timur Bekmambetov last week, everything in this story happens on the screen of a laptop. I was surprised by this new format – which is called screen life – because it’s really powerful. I think gadgets and social media will be used much more in films in next years.
Q: Speaking of social media, I have enjoyed reading your various takes on films like Logan Lucky and The Florida Project on your Facebook page. You have great insight and read film very well. Can you tell us about the type of films and filmmakers that inspire you?
A: THANK you. I like everything which is good, simple as that! I love the raging of Mad Max: Fury Road and the manipulative films of Lars von Trier as much as soft films of Maren Ade or tender films about love like Upstream Color.
They are very different but they are all great because they make you feel things. For example, I watched Strange Days for the first time this spring and I wanted to scream. It was a late night and I was so impressed that I couldn’t sleep because I wanted to change my life right now, to do something. Catherine Bigelow is a very loud director (in a good way) but I like so called quiet directors too, for example, Critsti Puiu, Noah Baumbach or Boris Khlebnikov. I can talk about films a lot so we better move onto the question!
Q: Can you tell us more about your background and where your love for film comes from?
A: I wanted to be a film critic and I started writing film reviews right after I finished school four years ago. I also had ideas for scripts which I tried to develop. Sometimes I worked on the filming of commercials as an assistant. But I think I learned something about films by watching and thinking about them a lot. I love cinema because this language is very close to me. I never studied in a film school, I just decided to make a film because I couldn’t not do it.
Q: I know it is still early days for you, but what is life like as a Russian filmmaker? Do you get support?
A: I think it’s not easy to be a filmmaker in Russia. I know directors who have been looking for money for their films for years. I self-financed my film but my film is quite simple that’s why it was possible.
The government finance some films but it’s really hard to get this financing. I think we need to get more support to make more films, especially when you are just starting your way. Also we need to do something with a censorship which gets worse and worse. One easy example – you can’t show films in Russia if there are obscene words in them. As for me, I have much of these words in my film and story needs them because you can’t use another words when you’re very angry and tired, you just want to say “Fuck you!”
Q: Does that mean you have ambitions to work abroad? What is in the future for you?
A: I want to be in a place where I can work and express myself. If it’s better abroad I’ll try to get there. Actually, I want to study abroad but a lot of people get back to the homeland later and work there. We’ll see.
Q: What does it mean for you to have your film screened at Raindance Film Festival?
A: IT is a big honour to me and I’m happy that my debut film has its premiere abroad at a big festival. Sometimes I think that all I do is terrible. Being selected to the festival makes you believe in yourself a little bit more. Just a little bit.
Q: What do you hope audiences take away from Consequences of Any Kind when they see it at Raindance?
A: I hope the audience would feel something, that’s all I want. They can interpret my film as they want and get their own meanings of my story. I think that’s a good thing about cinema.