|Victoria Film Festival Interview: ECCENTRIC ECLECTIC director Nika Belianina
by Jason Whyte
Eccentric Eclectic - At VFF 2015!
ECCENTRIC ECLECTIC is an avant-garde collection of characters and musical vignettes occurring during Electric Eclectics, a festival of experimental music and sound art in Canada. The film explores the unique sound performances, artistic encounters and celebrates eccentric personalities of this word of mouth festival. It is my first feature.” Director Nika Belianina on ECCENTRIC ECLECTIC which screens at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival.
Is this your first movie in the Victoria Film Festival, and are you coming to Victoria for the screening?
Yes and yes!
Tell me a bit about your background and what led you into movies and film festivals.
I was born and raised in Moscow, where I have been involved with the arts one way or the other since childhood. But only when I got to Canada in 2003, I had an opportunity to dive into film. I started as a lighting technician when my friends and I got our hands on one camera, a tripod and a reflector to make our first film with the budget of $25. We decided to submit it to the film festival in 2005 where we won best film! This early encouragement and seeing how your work impacts others made me want to continue making films. I have been on this journey ever since.
How did this whole project come together from your perspective?
A few years ago I was in post for one of my short films BUTTERFLIES TO THE CITY and was looking for an authentic music for the film. After having little success with the conventional film scores, I asked google to find me "eccentric eclectic music". The first thing that popped up was Electric Eclectics festival. This immediately caught my attention. The same year I was enjoying myself at the festival and even signed an agreement with one of the bands to work on my film. By 2013 I was searching for a low-budget idea for a feature film. It is not easy to lift off the ground any feature, and a mid to big budget FIRST feature especially. I also knew that I wanted to include some people I met through the festival in my new project. And then I realized that no one has made a film about the festival itself. And if someone decides to film it, and it won't be me, I would never forgive myself. Four months later I was running around Funny farm with my crew, filming left, right & centre all the action at the Electric Eclectics. Hence, ECCENTRIC ECLECTIC was born.
What was the biggest challenge in making the film? And the most rewarding moment?
One of the hardest things was to run an Indie-go-go fundraising campaign for the film. I had to raise money fast if I wanted to film the same year, so there was not enough time to apply for the grants etc. Crowdfunding may look easy, but it actually takes way more effort to reach your goal then it seems. It was truly incredible to see some people stepping up and donating for the cause because they believed in the project or in me. Another quite a rewarding moment was a speech by Gordon Monahan, festival director after the cast and crew screening. To know that you film characters appreciated and liked your portrayal of them is such a relief! Now I can sleep well knowing that I did some thing right.
What keeps you going while making a movie? How much coffee?
I love making films. I breathe them and I live them. Making a documentary is a very different process from making a fiction film. So for me this was a route of discovery, try, error and lots of joy. Clark Johnson, my producer and biggest supporter along with lots of white wine kept me going through the hardest days.
I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.
Our shooting budget was quite modest for a feature film. So I was not just a director. I doubled up as a cinematographer, since I knew what to expect from my characters and the festival. I had three other camera men to help me film it. My sound guy Braden Sauder had to constantly be alert and follow us everywhere, as we would split in different directions to film all what's happening around us. And there is a lot that's happening! Clark Johnson, my muse and a co-producer made sure we didn't forget to eat and enjoyed ourselves while working. John Switzer, quite a knowledgeable music producer joined our team to record all musical performances onto multi-track system and later mixed the music for the film. So in just four to five days of filming we accumulated around 40 hours of footage and hours and hours of music. We shot on Canon DSLRs and C300 cameras and even some 16mm.
What are you looking forward to the most about having your screening in Victoria?
As much as my previous films played at various film festivals in USA, Russia, Ukraine and even Nigeria and won awards, I did not have much exposure in Canada. So I am quite excited to have a screening at home, and especially in the west coast, which will be my first! It's also a first for me as it's my first feature and a first public screening! Three firsts in one. Not bad, huh?
I would love to hear about the journey this movie has had on the fest circuit, and the plans you have for the movie after it plays in Victoria.
This is a world premiere, so it's just the beginning. We're working hard on securing screenings in different parts of the world. The film will definitely play at the Electric Eclectics festival this August, which would be the 10 year anniversary. There has been an interest from a number of places, but at this moment we can't share all the information.
What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film in a cinema?
Please have some respect for the people who get blinded by your devices rows and rows above you. We still see them even if you try to hide them!
There are a lot filmmakers, especially up-and-comers, reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?
Never underestimate the importance of good sound. Test your film on a trusted audience who would be able to say what works in your film and what does not. Learn from critique and don't get angry at it. And watch films! Watch them and try to understand what do you like about them and what you don't. And why. Analyze and don't be afraid to fail.
And finally, what would you say is your favorite movie (or film festival movie)?
There are a lot, as there is a lot of talented filmmakers out there. But my most favourite is BRAZIL by Terry Gilliam. Then there is the Russian sci-fi KIN-DZA-DZA. Among documentaries it will be WALKING UNDER WATER (2014) and GAMBLING, GODS & LSD by Peter Mettler.
For additional information on the Victoria Film Festival including screening times, ticketing information and other events happening around the city in the next ten days, point your browser to www.victoriafilmfestival.com.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @jasonwhyte for live updates throughout the fest including Instagram updates, commentary and links to upcoming interviews and coverage. If you see me in line, please say hi!
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3735
originally posted: 02/07/15 20:42:42
last updated: 04/07/15 05:03:36