September 15th, 2022
DIRECTOR OF FIELD OF MIRACLES / WOODEN WHALES
BEST AUDIENCE – SPRING EDITION
Maria, where did your desire to be a director come from?
It comes from my childhood. Since I have been dancing for as long as I can remember, I started doing plays and musicals to entertain children of my parents’ friends who came to our place rather frequently.
All summer we prepared the play, my cousin wrote the script, we made scenery, sewed costumes, and at the end of the summer we put on a show on the volleyball court, pulling a curtain between two pillars. I didn’t know that I was a director, it’s just that everyone called me that way.
And one day I told my mother: «I think I want to be a director”. But she answered: “Masha, it’s difficult to be a woman director, you won’t earn any respect or money,” my dad passed away, and I decided that I need a serious profession. I did not know what I wanted, but I studied well and entered the Faculty of Journalism at Moscow State University.
After graduation, I still did not know what to do, and I had to remember what I did all day long, for which no one paid me money and I was happy. In general, this is what I’m doing now (although sometimes after all producers pay me), directing is something that helps me to be alive, and it inspires me.
As I said, my path was not so straight forward. My first education was as a ballet dancer. I have been dancing professionally since the age of three, but then I had to leave this area.
I graduated from the Faculty of Journalism of Moscow State University, where I was engaged in documentary filmmaking in sound and video, and then I studied creative advertising at the Wordshop Academy, along this path I managed to work as a copywriter at BBDO, a producer, a YouTube content director and a cat researcher – this is my funniest job.
And after I studied directing at the Moscow Film School, I have been just directing videos and movies.
Fiction for me is an opportunity to talk to people, to make them not feel alone with their problems, to understand that it’s ok if they feel something. But it seems to me that for a director who makes feature films it is very important to see real life, plasticity, texture, and how people generally behave in life. That’s why I consider documentaries an important part of my work, educational, observing, helping me to understand people better, the opportunity to do important social projects that may help someone.
Music videos are my outlet! On the set of music videos I remember the ballet backstage, these choreography runs, rehearsals, for me this is my small homeland – to combine movements with music, control the choreography of bodies and cameras, make something beautiful and with music.
Advertising for me, as for many other directors, is an opportunity to earn money with what you can do the best, and I really like working with smart clients and agencies. Besides money, since I studied advertising creative, this is an important way for me to help brands to become recognizable and to fulfill their business goals.
We got to know Tape production through an advertisement and they decided to help on a creative project with the Wooden Whales music video. So you never know which collaborations will take you where.
It isn’t just for a beauty that at the beginning the heroes pull wine-colored fabrics from the vat, lay
them on top of each other, and begin to grope through it. As if through some kind of projection, they
begin to study each other, but their true faces are hidden. And this big mistake at the initial stage of
their relationships leads to tragedy.
There is also a reference to Icarus in the video, when the main character, having flown high, fell low and lies with scorched wings. To Michelangelo’s “Pieta” – there is one scene where Sveta, the main actress and the leader of “Wooden whales”, and Stephan, the main male character, are sitting on a stone. And Sveta in such a red stole is for me a symbol of a devouring mother.
As for music, it seems to me that this is either given or not, of course, people who aren’t inclined to feel music are not taken to ballet, but it is not necessary to be a ballet dancer or musician to do this.
I have a good ear, it helps not only in my work with music, the rhythm of editing, but also in languages, for example, which leads to awkward situations. Once when I was 14, I had a summer job in a souvenir shop in Moscow, and a group of French people came to visit us. I have been learning French since the age of 6, and I went up to them and asked in French if I could help them with something.
They heard my pronunciation, and bombarded me with quick questions and enthusiasm, and my tongue seemed to fall off, I couldn’t even answer the question where I learned the language.
Then I went to the toilet and sat there until the group left. Such a story about a good ear from my childhood, somewhere works, somewhere not.
For example, in the original idea there was no baby at all. It was my dream – a baby who turns into a plastic baby doll. I suggested this to the guys, they liked it, and we decided to add it. The treatment was being transformed, the idea lived. The most important words that I heard were said by Sveta.
She came to the set and said that everything was exactly how she imagined, that the scenery was very similar to the nature of her hometown of Murmansk, so we were doing some kind of documentary story, both based on the real story of the soloist and in the scenery that is understandable to her.
Yes, I have already mentioned this above. Me and the DOP Mario Kim, and the production designer Julia Orlova were inspired by art. Once Mario set the light over the scene with “Pieta”, and hung a lightning pipe over the heroes, the light was very even and pouring.
I went up to Mario and said: “I didn’t like the lightning, we need to come up with another idea, how to do this”. He told me that he doesn’t like it either. So we decided to make a divine beam and it worked. So if you already take references from fine art, you need to work with them according to their laws, you hardly can imagine a better way.