Philippe Morozov | There Are As Many Stories To Tell As There Are In Real Life

Philippe is a child of the world. He traveled a lot to learn, to experience, to get as much as possible from himself and the world around him. And because of this little “obstacle”, we had to have our “conversation” remotely. I have never had this kind of conversation with a stranger before – remote but close. That’s because I had a conversation with eyes, soul, mind and heart open to “listen” to my questions and to answer sincerely. Philippe and I, we still don’t know each other personally, but I think that when I see him, I would feel like I’m in a company of a friend or at least of another child of the reality intertwined with dreams.

Picture Yana Lozeva

Who are you? How old are you? Where are you from? What do you do for a living? Don’t feel obligated to answer my exact questions, just tell me about yourself and what should I know about you to begin this “conversation”?

I’m Philippe; I’m 22. I was born and raised in Sofia, though I spent quite a bit of my childhood at my grandma’s in Paris. That’s where I live now – she’s not around anymore. I actually decided not to come to Paris when I graduated from high school. I studied film at King’s College London for three years, then I realized it would be a good idea to move here – it’s a good opportunity to try out different things. I’m currently doing my Master’s degree in Film and Media Production at the National Audiovisual Institute. I’m not sure if I want to become a producer per se, but that aspect of filmmaking is essential to consider even as a director. When I tell people I actually want to direct, some of them ask me why I’m wasting my time with this. *Well*, it’s also a fantastic feeling to be capable of producing other people’s work when they have amazing ideas very different from our own. We’ll see how it turns out.

How do you describe yourself in five words, using only cinematographic concepts?

This is actually ridiculously hard. Please don’t cringe when I say ‘experimental’ – what I mean by that is simply that I haven’t found my particular style or approach yet, so I try to push in a different direction each time. You’ll notice that my projects are all extremely different. That’s what I love about my own work, but it’s also what scares me the most. I’m only starting out and, technically, everything I do is something I’ve never done before. It’s fascinating, risky and rewarding. There’s plenty of time for me to find my ‘thing’, to develop the things that work, but also to correct the things that don’t. Regardless, five elements I always bear in mind are: contemplation, concision, ambiguity, fantasy, and ‘incompleteness’, if you will.

Picture Radina Gancheva

If you weren’t a director and you didn’t have the chance to work in cinema, what would your profession be?

A pastry chef! When I was 13-14, I would’ve given everything to do that for a living. I must say, I used to be pretty great at it, too. Lemon meringue pies, dark chocolate tarts, raspberry and vanilla profiteroles… I’m not sure how I would perform now. I eat instead. Ugh, cinema is better anyway.

Describe your typical morning. And a typical day of Philippe.

A useless amount of coffee and quite a bit of wasted time. Sometimes, that actually extends to my day as a whole, which is scary. I should stop. I’m trying. Other than that, films and music, always. Saturated fats, too.

What is your forte?

I am diligent, attentive, and appreciative.

What do you consider the weakest part of your character?

I am very impatient and I have trouble letting go of my strong opinions.

What films are in your personal top 5/10 list?

It always has to be “among others…”, but anyway:

Beau Travail (Claire Denis); Walkabout/Don’t Look Now (Nicolas Roeg); Cries and Whispers (Ingmar Bergman); The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau); Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett); Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky); All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk); Daisies (Věra Chytilová); Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel); Fat Girl (Catherine Breillat)

If your life was a movie, which one would you choose?

Erm…let’s say Good Morning by Yasujirô Ozu. It’s so touching, funny, and brimming with wondrous childishness (and ramen).

If your life was a book, or you could have been a book character, which one would you be?

Emil of Lönneberga. Actually, this was the first book I read on my own and, to this day, I regret not having been such a wonderfully mischievous kid as Emil.  

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life?

I don’t know if it was a particular event, but I guess my first ‘professional’ realization came at some point in late 2015, a few months after I completed my first short film. I was in London when I stumbled upon a 16mm film clearance. (Teodor) Fichev – my good friend and cinematographer – and I had dreamt of shooting on film, so I bought a 400ft roll (which roughly amounts to 10 minutes of footage), and wrote a loose script, a sort of collage of self-sufficient, static long takes. The basic premise was: “As a young couple moves in together, a downward spiral of jealousy and bitter memories gives way to a poisonous and destructive relationship”. I know. Anyway… we had to shoot without sound, as we used a ridiculously loud 1965 Arri 16BL (courtesy of cinematographer Kaloyan Bozhilov). I thought “yeah, whatever, I’ll write the actual story and the dialogue/voiceover when we’re done. We’ll build the whole soundtrack from scratch etc.” That never happened. I don’t think it ever will. At this point, more people would be disappointed if they saw it than those who were disappointed when I left it behind. It was a mistake, but also a very important lesson: I started thinking of filmmaking as responsible work – a responsible body of work, actuallya kind of legacy. If you start thinking about this, then it isn’t a hobby anymore. Maybe it’s too early for me to say that kind of thing, but it’s true. It answers your question, at the very least.

What/who were some of your major influences when you first started out?

When I was still in high school, my French literature teacher – who had also been a film studies lecturer in France – knew I was interested in filmmaking. He gave me a few DVDs: La règle du jeu (Jean Renoir, 1939), Ugetsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1953), Tystnaden (Ingmar Bergman, 1963), and Au hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966). These were the essentials. What a collection. I never gave the DVDs back. In London, Yasujirō Ozu and Chantal Akerman came into the equation. So did Fassbinder’s Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant (1972). Then I made my first short. I think that’s enough for when I first started out. I will love these films forever.

I can’t ignore your last project which I came across and watched over and over again – “phase 001”. How did you get into this team? This is a very personal and anticipated project for Tsveta Doycheva, as far as I know. When did you get involved and how can you describe the process?

I met the incredible human being that is Tsveta at last year’s Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona – one of the best weekends of my life. We started spending a lot of time together. We have such similar tastes and goals that it all happened very naturally. She knew the girls she wanted for the project, and she asked me to direct, which I’m obviously very grateful for. The people I work with are all incredible, and a fantastic team shaped up quite quickly. We started with a very loose concept and worked our way to what you’ve seen.

 

For me, as a director, it was all really exciting because for the first time, I managed to relax completely and just “go with the flow”. Many things went wrong in the process, which is usually hard to handle, but when you manage to do so, really interesting and rewarding things can happen. Tsveta went through heaven and hell for this project (well, mostly heaven, hopefully), and I think it was all worth it.

You say that cinema for you is a reflection, both physical and mental. It is thought, meaning, motion and emotion, it’s a point of view but mostly it is a chance to be alone with your own thoughts, even in the company of hundreds of people. What kind of process is filmmaking for you – a lonesome one or a collaborative one?

I see you’ve done some research…This actually has to do with my participation in the 2017 Giornate degli Autori jury in Venice. It concerns film viewing. Obviously, the collective and private experiences of film viewing are very different, but I think they’re always intimate – in relation to your own mind and emotions, that is. Filmmaking, on the other hand…one has to be very foolish not to see filmmaking as a collaborative process. The quality of the filmmaking relies almost exclusively on the quality of the relationships within the cast and crew, who all have very different – and difficult – tasks to accomplish. Collaboration – respectful, attentive collaboration – is the way to go.

Grigovor/Gena – Konspiracia

What’s harder – in your own opinion – getting started or being able to keep going?

Being able to keep going, definitely. Starting out as a filmmaker is always a very ambitious, sincere and diligent process. Regardless of the first results, it is always rewarding and stimulating. As expectations and experiences pile up, though, it gets harder and harder to find the right ideas and assuredly develop them in order to make something better than the last time (that’s what I imagine all filmmakers try to achieve).

How much do you think commerce affects your art? Or, if I should  rephrase – how much do you have to compromise as a filmmaker because of financial restrictions or business?

A lot, of course, but I’d rather move on to the second question. Luckily, I don’t think I’ve ever had to compromise a lot creatively because of financial restrictions. I do have an enormous issue with this, though: thus far, the people I have worked with have always been underpaid (if paid at all). Obviously, independent filmmaking – and especially music videos – in Bulgaria are a sort of non-economy, and the funds are never sufficient. I find it difficult to imagine how this would/could change in the foreseeable future, but “here’s hoping”…I try to work hard enough to get to a point where the productions I’m involved in are financially safer for my colleagues. Until then, I guess we’ll just have to try hard, over and over again.

People say that there are only six stories. It’s all been done before. And we have seen it all. How do you stay fresh in the face of an idea like that?

This statement isn’t an ‘idea’. It’s a sad, philistine concept, and it makes me angry. There are as many stories to tell as there are in real life – and many, many more which go beyond it. Enough said. What a frustrating, anticlimactic finale.

 

 

Daniela Ivanova, GARDEROB | Style Comes From Within

A quiet and calm voice and a genuine smile. What a delight!

 

Picture Dragomir Spasov

I met Daniela on set. The first things I noticed about her were the quiet and calm tone of her voice and her genuine smile. We communicated so easily, that I even couldn’t believe at first that I don’t know her and we are having such a smooth conversation. I can definitely define her as a person true to herself – with a special distinctive and personal mark.

Where she comes from?

She was born in Ruse and raised in Burgas. Her father was a midshipman and her mother was a primary teacher.

Wondering how all passion for fashion begun, she found the answer right in her childhood memories. At home, her mother and her grandmother have sewed and done all by themselves, and from there, she learned how to use a sewing machine. When she thinks a little more, she remembers that at that time on TV she watched Bold and Beautiful and The House of Eliott, and that probably also influenced her interest which now evokes laughter and shy smiles. Her cousins had Barbie dolls, and she did not, so they made a deal, she “took care” of the dolls on weekends and sewed them dozens of clothes on her sewing machine. Then, on Mondays, she returned the Barbies to her cousins, but she kept the clothes for herself –her first small fashion collection. She never suspected that when she grew up a little, that would be her profession.

She actually wanted to study woodcarving, but she trusted her parents’ choices and advices and she first went to High School in Burgas, in an art class. After graduating from there, it was her first attempt to study Fashion at the National Academy of Arts. Back then over 150 people competed for only 6 places. She didn’t make it from the first time but she didn’t give up. Her third attempt was a charm. And that’s how her fashion journey began.

I share with you an interview with Dani which reveals a soul of a child locked inside the body of a beautiful woman with a young, wild spirit of a free bird that hover in the space of life with a special trademark.

What inspires you?

When I do something, I start from the shape / silhouette. I have it in my mind and I’m always returning to it in order to clear everything up. This is both an idea and a concept for life – to cleanse myself from the unnecessary. Clothes are part of the connection between people. They are a kind of communication – this is the first thing that people notice about you. Clothes are just cloth, the person who creates and wears them makes them what they are. So, my ultimate goal is for maximum purity and clarity, both in the clothes I make and in my relationship with people.

Picture Dragomir Spasov

What challenges do you have as a stylist? 

You have a choice of accepting things – whether you see them as something bloody or as something magical and challenging. I always try to turn my point of view into a positive one. If you’re getting something done – do it in the best possible way. I try not to do something at all costs , but if I have an impulse and a desire – then I get on it immediately.

What goals do you wish to achieve in the future? 

I am not an unchanging value. I have some ideas, but I still haven’t turned them into goals with a deadline. So, that’s about to happen.

What advice would you give an up to a future stylist? 

To travel, to study, to watch movies, to read books, to do things that build you up as an artist and a person and to do it consciously. Taste is something you can form. It’s good that you can change it, it doesn’t matter in what environment you grew up, so you just have to open your eyes and find your path.

But I usually avoid giving advices because everyone has to go on his own way, make his own mistakes and learn from them.

What is your favorite project as a stylist? 

I have a little amnesia. I don’t think I have an all-time favorite project but there are projects I’m happy with. When I have given my heart and I see people on the other side who appreciated it. I always take things as my own, it is not important what style you have done, what‘s important is that people acknowledge it and I have done it with my soul – that’s the total pleasure.

What’s the most fun part of your job?

I wouldn’t say fun, but the most satisfying is when I see the person wearing the clothes and the way it affects her/him.

But when I think about it, perhaps the most pleasant part of my work is communication with people. I have a co-worker – a tailor. She is a technologist, an engineer and in fact my personal friend – a therapist with a sewing machine. So, I would like to say thank you, Zaharinka!

How do you choose what looks work for each individual client? 

I started asking myself – do I truly believe that this is the best thing for this person? Because sometimes people come to me telling me what they think would suit them. For a pretty long time, I followed their exact desires but recently I started to trust my instincts again. To believe my gut and follow my first feel of the person. For a long time I forgot what it was to hear your thoughts and everyone from time to time needs a moment to enjoy the silence and follow his or her inner voice.

Do the clothing choices you make at work inspire your personal style? 

It depends on the project. I don’t usually change my style radically. But after shooting a TVC recently, I started to put lipstick on for example, which is something I haven’t been doing before.

Picture Dragomir Spasov

How would you describe your personal style?

Feminine. I wear my clothes more confidently than before. What makes a difference, is the way you wear your clothes – a simple thought can change your expression, your posture and then: everything.

What is your favorite item in your closet? 

Red suede heels. They are a symbol of the useless luxury.

Everyone loves a good deal, what are some of your favorite places to find budget buys? 

Second hand is always a good option. In fact, no matter how weird it may sound, I don’t do shopping much. It’s more like if I accidentally like something – I buy it, but one of my basic concepts in life is to clutter with possessions, including clothes.

If you could only wear one brand for the rest of your life which one would it be?

Muji, Uniclo & Cos for example because it’s pretty close to my personal style.

What would you never wear?

I never say never. I would put everything on in a certain context.

You seem to be a dreamer. Let’s say you could travel back in time to one fashion era: where would you end up?

The 40s: as a time, as a style, as music, as a feeling. The way that movie stars at that time looked like – Carrie Garnt, Marlon Brando, women are stylish, fatal, feminine, seductive. I simply love that.

Who is your favorite movie director?

Jim Jarmusch. It is a cult to me. I envy people who have not seen his movies yet because they will see them for the first time. Magical experience. There is something in his films that inspires me every time I watch them.

If your life was s movie, which movie would it be?

Hmmm, Casablanca. Yes, Casablanca!

Do you have a wish list?

I had one in Pinterest. I think that this was very helpful for me because it’s kind of visualizing your dreams and taking instant pictures, saving them for later.

If you weren’t a stylist, what would you do for a living?

Maybe I would be а barber. I enjoy working and communicating with men and I feel that I have a talent. I have actually even made the first step – I have my own scissors, so…

Who would you look like when you grow up?

I really like Vivian Westwood as a woman, personality and ideology. She actually became a fashion designer pretty late in her life…Maybe I would like to look like her.

Do you have a Great Dream?

To be surrounded with young people. That’s what gives me hope, energy and positive vibes and ambitions to keep going and developing myrself.

While I think about my meeting with her, a quote emerges constantly in my mind: “The real ornament of woman is her character, her purity” (Mahatma Gandhi).  I have nothing else to add.

Johana Trayanova | Like Father, Like Daughter

A romantic story about a great dreamer.

I will share with you several words that became a leitmotif after this encounter – inspiration, light and kindness. This was what Johana shared with me for about an hour and a half. Lucky me!  She is, surely, an endangered species – part of the pack of people who are always seeking to conquer the world in their own way without pretending to be or imitating someone else and have a lot of faith in the beauty of the world around.

Johana is 26 years old but she has experience in various roles – as an intern in a production company, junior producer, playwright, scriptwriter, production coordinator, photographer, designer etc. Her whole life is surrounded by art – before and after birth.

Before and after birth

Without any fear and with a lot of enthusiasm, Johana started telling me the story of her family. She first mentioned her great-grandfather – the poet Teodor Trayanov, declared by literary critic society as the father of symbolism in Bulgarian poetry together with Yavorov. He was a colorful, soul-rich and sensitive person. He had a daughter named Johana and a son, named Assen. Assen is our Johana’s grandfather. He was an intelligent and literate man who lived and worked in Austria but was forced to come back to Bulgaria and was imprisoned in the concentration camp in Belene. Her father followed his father’s footsteps and went to Germany to study and live there but also was forced to come back to Bulgaria. Even though this seemed like a step back at first, this was maybe the best thing that ever happened to him because he met Johana’s mother. She was a talented young music student – a violinist. She did not have the self-confidence to become a performer and she decided to teach. She became a music teacher but Johana’s father secretly listed her for a job competition in the Bulgarian National Radio. She won it and has worked there ever since. In my own opinion Johana took a little from both of her parents – talent and impulse to pursue art from both of them, modesty from her mom and courage from her dad. Unfortunately, life took her dad away from her when she was seven years old but she keeps clear and concrete memories from her favorite moments with him. It also turns out that many of these memories are in fact related to her decision to be “a child of cinema”. She remembers how they spent hours in the video library/store choosing which movie to watch next. And the movie that they watched over and over again was “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.

Growing up, looking for herself, finding the life Johana doesn’t like to label people, to identify someone by their lifestyle, profession or hobbies. She doesn’t give a definition of herself or her activities. Maybe that’s why when I asked her what her job was at the moment, she told me that there was none. She wants simple and plain things – she wants to shoot, to learn how to manage valuable projects, to learn how to do photobooks, how to capture the magic behind the scenes in cinema, to explore and observe people on the streets and keep them sealed in her mind and camera. That’s why she finds inspiration all around her, and her strongest motivation is love, “because love makes us better”. And she is giving all of her free time to feel the love – she is travelling with her boyfriend or just spending time with him.

Countryside | Personal archive

One of the places which brings her calm and peace is the countryside. Sometimes she feels frustrated from all of the information overload and frantic consumer behavior of the city and its residents. She sees the village as an escape because of its beauty, silence, solitude, serenity and privacy (maybe use serenity?). She dreams to live in a village someday, in the future.

Countryside | Personal archive

She told me that she has always known, ever since she was a little girl that cinema was her personal and professional sphere. That’s because for her, cinema is magic and same as almost everyone, she is attracted to magic. For example, she adores taking part in the birth of a film. To watch and explore the fairytale-like process – everyone is concentrated on their task and all together have a common goal – to create a new reality. She cannot imagine exchanging this for a daily routine in an office. Every single day that she spends on the set is like a special award for her. This is one of the reasons she loves taking pictures behind the scenes.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes.| Working title “The Pig”, dir. Drago Sholev

To capture what is happening on set, what every single person is doing and how he is doing it in this small ordered chaos.

Behind the scenes.| Working title “The Pig”, dir. Drago Sholev

These pictures weren’t even part of her obligations on the set of the film with working title “The Pig”. Johana was part of the art department but in her free moments she caught some fascinating working moments.

She loves surprising people with her camera not only on set but also on the street. She is strangely attracted to street photography.

Street photography

Street photography | Paris

She loves cities like Paris for this kind of photography because no one there cares that you are taking pictures of him/her. While in Sofia it is not the same – you can always find someone who will be embarrassed, angry or even curse you…

Street photography | Paris

Conceptual photography

The main themes she likes to explore in the field of conceptual photography are dreams, desires, fantasy, imagination. Every night she dreams and remembers her dreams even though she doesn’t write them down. Every night she travels in an alternate reality, product of her imagination, presenting the influence of the past day, or the excitement of the upcoming one. She is a sensitive person, ready to turn over her own ideas for what is real and what is not. I define her work as a constant searching for the unknown and unexperienced, for the beautiful and the ugly beyond the established notions of these concepts. Her first conceptual photography project is

Moments

These photographs are dedicated to the memories.

 “Going through the hard times of your life, consciously or unconsciously we look back to our memories – we call them from the deepest places of our mind to help us take some kind of important and different decision. We rarely realize how dependent we are on them. But what are they?

Memories are static, emotional, far, frozen in time, looking like a dream.

When we try to remember an exact memory we get lost in series of moments built on dreams, emotions, desires.

That’s the topic that Moments explores – the state of human consciousness in which reality is crossed with the past and the desired. “

At the moment one of her most important and really personal project is

The exhibition “I am dreaming”

The concept for this project won funding from the programme “Debuts” of the National Culture Fund. Behind this project stands a team that Johana gathered herself – a producer, coordinator, curator, art director and Johana herself as a photographer. The exhibition will be an installation of different artistic techniques to represent the theme of dreaming.

„The dream does not look like a story told by the conscious mind, everything is possible in it, everything is real. This is why children do not distinguish the dream from reality, because dreams are not made up, they happen.

Dreams are an integral part of our being. But what are they? A way to look to the future? Hidden deep within our subconscious complexes? An answer to life dilemma? Suppressed desires? Dreams? Escape from reality? The intersection of the consciousness and the depths of the unconscious…?

In this sense, the project “I am dreaming” aims to provoke the search for the meaning of dreams for each individual.”

When I was preparing for the encounter with Johana I wasn’t sure why she is always paying such great attention to the imaginary world from the past or to dreams but I found an extremely beautiful and romantic answer to this question when she told me about a future professional dream of hers.

Working title “Coffee with Dad”

Johana has a project for a photobook with found photos. This approach is called „Photo Vernaculaire”. Its representatives are Jean Marie Donnat, Eric Kessel, who even claims he will not make any photography until he uses all the photos he has taken so far. Bulgarian representative of this approach is Tihomir Stoyanov with “Imaginary Archives”.

Loneliness | From the photobook project “Coffee with Dad”

In my own opinion, there is nothing accidental in Johana’s life. One day while looking at the old basement, she found street photographs that her father took while being in Poland. Until then she had no idea that her dad was into photography. I would say, like father, like daughter. That’s when she decided to create her own, very personal, gentle and beautiful project for a photobook. I can definitely say that this is one of the most special and exciting things I have recently heard of. Using all your love and care you are gathering and creating the stories between you and your dad that have never happened, using the photographs he made while he was alive. She aims to recreate in her own way the conversations she would have had with her father if he was here next to her. For life, love, attitude, relationships, and everything else.

 

Traditions | From the photobook project “Coffee with Dad”

Hallo and Goodbye Lexicon

The topics in your conceptual art are related with psychology and philosophy. Are you into some particular philosophy? I am attracted to the eastern philosophy – the wisdom, the ability to listen to others and yourself, the silence.

Are you under some kind of influence in your work? I wouldn’t say so. I get inspired while watching movies, going to exhibitions, exploring people etc. but I don’t follow fashion or any trends.

Who is the most emblematic person in art history in your opinion? Van Gogh. I was in Amsterdam and I saw some of his work. I swear that I was hearing noises while I was watching the paintings – I heard seagulls, the sea, the wind…they were talking to me. Michelangelo as well – he always wanted to be a sculptor the most, but he kept receiving different tasks that kept him away from what he had dreamed of the longest. However, he sought absolute perfection and made all of his works perfect. I am saying this because today I am a photographer, tomorrow I will be an assistant in an art department of a movie production, after that I will be a production coordinator and nothing should be done in mediocrity – that’s why I always try to do everything in the best possible way.

Is there a universal question you seek to answer through your work? What will happen in this life? But after a while I said to myself that I don’t need to know all the answers because it will be too boring to live.

Is there anything that repels you with art? Making art only for yourself. This can feed your ego but in my opinion, it can’t make a work of art.

What do you always carry with you on trips? Camera, swimsuit and a hat.

Top 3 places you would like to visit in the whole wide world? South Africa, Iceland, New Zealand.

When you were a little girl what did you want to be when you grow up? An actress (she blushes).

And now, who would you like to look like when you grow up? Mom and dad.

If your life was a movie, which one would it be? Grease.

And what if you could be a book character, which one would you choose? (Here we said unanimously and almost in one voice): Pippi Longstocking, of course!

And if now I ask your mother to describe you in three words, what would they be? Dreamer, treasure and crazy. (Later that day Johana told me that she actually asked her mom and the three words were: euphoria, light and love. Well, I agree!)

If you could steal credit for any great piece of art, song, film, book, etc which one would you claim? MINE. I wouldn’t do this even if I could because to steal credit for something that’s not yours is unfair.

Are you afraid of reality that you are locking yourself in the world of imagination? I just pay attention to the small things beyond reality because I think that people don’t pay enough attention to the magic that surrounds them and is invisible at first glance.

Do you have a special ritual for a successful day? First thing first, I have to wake up. And to put two different socks on.

Wish for something out loud …. A briefcase for developing photographs and the exhibition “Dreaming” becoming a reality.

Damian Dimitrov | Camera & Intuition

I want to introduce you to one of the young and talented Directors of Photography (DoP)  – Damian Dimitrov who is 27 years old and loves the night, the sunrise and sunset, the world around him and mostly – his work.

Photo by Christian Nochev


LEXICON

Name: Damian Dimitrov

Years: 27

Home town: Beloslav, near Varna

Occupation: Director of Photography

In your spare time: Spare time is boring and painful. I am constantly thinking about work. I want to work.

Favorite time of the day: Evening and night

Your motivation: Work and progress

Your inspiration: The world around me

When you look through the lens, what do you expect and hope to seeA better reality.

Is there a film which you watched without thinking how it was done, who is the DoP, who is the director:  In fact, most good movies. Somehow I managed to break myself [sic] and not think so much about it. When I look at a good story I just dive into it. Otherwise, you cannot enjoy it. But if I have to mention titles, they would be: “Last tango in Paris”, “The Dreamers”, “Amores Perros”, “Raging Bull”, “The lives of others”, “We need to talk about Kevin” and etc.

Which is the most memorable movie shot that you have seen:  The shot where Rafiki rises the little Simba in his hands in front of all the animals of the kingdom.

If you can make a wish about something connected to your work, what would it be and why:  Development. That’s the best thing about our profession. When I started studying, I wanted to use and work with the newest and the best camera equipment. I wanted to be on the set in every possible moment. I remember I couldn’t fall asleep all night before my first shoot with a professional camera. At first, I tried to take beautiful and flawless shots, but then I realized that this is not how that works. These are moments that take hours and sometimes even days. However, that is the most charming thing about our profession – you are always aiming for better.


I met Damian at 11 AM to have a cup of coffee and chat. Waking up was painful for him, because his day starts and ends a little later – the early morning hours are usually spent in researches for a new project and inspiring talks with friends. Evenings are his favorite. That is the most productive time for him, because the day has already passed. He has seen, heard and felt all for the days. What should have happened – happened, so now, at 8 PM  – everything starts to flourish around him.

When the camera was not there yet

His mom is an accountant and his dad – a driver. As he says: “no one at home does anything that is close to art”. When he started high school, Damian moved to Varna. He enrolled in painting classes and wanted to study interior design. “I have no idea why I wanted it and what was I thinking at that moment.” In his crazy-early teenage years, he had an unexpected encounter which destined his way without him realizing it.

The encounter

One evening a friend of his called. It turned out that his car broke down and he didn’t have a place to stay for the night. Damian invited him over, they got a couple of beers and sat to talk. Suddenly, his friend told him the place he was working at needed new employees for the summer and suggested that he should arrange a meeting with the manager of the company. On the next day, Damian went to meet him. They quickly liked each other. Several days later, Damian found himself in a bus full of people and a single camera (that he hadn’t seen before). It was a company that filmed tourist trips – a big sensation around the seaside. They told him: “Just act normal and professional. Pretend that you know and can do everything.” They made up a story about his starlet biography of a young, talented and wanted director of photography, which they were telling the tourists. At that point, Damian had no idea what was going on….

That was the first time Damian saw a professional camera and he liked it a lot. But the interesting thing here is that the camera seemed to like him back. Do we have love from first sight here?

The photography

The summer was over and so was his summer job. Soon after he came back, Damian decided to get a camera and start shooting. He shot in abstract, detailed shots, most often black and white. He seemed to enjoy that quite a lot and shortly after, he bought a film photo camera and turned his lodge into a laboratory. Damian turns his days around in order to improve his photos. I suspect that was the moment when the evenings became his favorite part of the day. He started waking up early, or stays awake, just to enjoy and shoot the sunrises and sunsets.

After he finished his studies, Damian decided to come to Sofia and apply to NATFA. He was struggling with making a choice – go for Photography or Film & TV Cinematography. He decided to apply for Cinematography, but did not get accepted from the first try. However, that did not stop him chasing his dreams. Damian spent a year in theoretical training and practical experience and he got accepted on his second year. During that time, he made several photograph exhibitions with friends in Bulgaria and the USA.

The cinematography

Photo by Maria Tsvetkova

After he got accepted in NATFA Damian started to get into details, related to the profession and the working process. He met new friends that share the same passion as he does and his adventure was ready to begin.

The world around Damian inspires him, he says. He gets motivated by work, development and progress. When he has free time he doesn’t know what to do. He wants to work, to think about work, to talk about work, to watch movies, videos and all sorts of pictures.

Photo Maria Tzvetkova

 

Cinematographers and movies

Photo by Christian Nochev

At first, Damian wanted to follow the good professional examples, but never succeeded. His experience has shown him that it is always different. If you always use your own imagination and intuition, it will be better than copying somebody else’s work.  There are many DoPs that he likes. Some of them are Ryszard Lenczewski,Bruno Delbonnel , Sean Bobbitt, Hoyte Van HoytemaRoger Deakins, CBE, ASC, BSC, Vittorio Storaro, A.S.C., A.I.C., Sven Nykvist, Emmanuel Lubezki, A.S.C., A.M.C. and others.

When he talks about them and their work, Damian payed specific attention to Lubezki. He admires his work. I could even say that a little flame blazes in his eyes – he is amazed how, in so many different stories, Lubezki can implement his own and unique approach, and how difficult it is. When asked to recommend three films that could be used as an example of cinematography masters, he gave the following:

  1. “The tree of life”
  2. “Apocalypse now”
  3. “In the mood for love”

He describes “The tree of life” as one of the most beautiful things he has ever seen in his life. He does not have a favorite movie, DoP or director. In his opinion, anyone who has seen enough cinema cannot have a favorite one.

Sky Battalion(trailer) dir. Dimitris Georgiev

Disappointments and challenges

As it happens to the majority of men – Damian gets disappointed, but not in the typical way. He does not blame someone or something – the lack of money, the system or the government. His disappointment is somehow romantic, poetic and related to the work. There is a particular line that brings him this feeling: “Very nice image, but the movie sucks.” At the beginning, while he was still studying, it felt flattering, but soon that sentence started to disappoint, upset and hurt him. Damian realizes that these words do not make sense, because a film is combination of all – it is neither a single picture, nor just a story. He believes the relationship between the director, the operator and the art director is extremely important. As you are working on a project together, at one point the communication becomes natural and casual. You soon realize that you have a new friend – the person with whom you stand shoulder to shoulder behind the camera. Therefore, in times of difficulty, it is best to unite with your team. He believes that the true magic comes when the entire team unites and starts working as one.

Insomnia, dir. Radoslav Kamburov
White elephants, dir. Todor Dimitrov

We talked about the challenges as well. Damian says that before the start of every project he has a “pre – fever” – that fluttering feeling between embarrassment, anxiety and pleasure. A great challenge for him is to fight off the fear at the beginning of each project and to turn it into adrenaline when the filming starts. Another serious challenge is not to imagine anything when you get the script.  He thinks he should not use one of his strongest weapons – the imagination. Lately, he has been trying to do it more and more often. When he receives a script, he reads it as a text, as a playwright, and he abstains from his ideas and where his mind and vision lead him, because it often takes him to places different to the ones that the director has in mind and that does not lead to anything good.

 

His work in a word

Trailer of Delhi Dance, dir. Dimitris Georgiev

 To be honest with you, when I asked this question, I got a straight-forward answer: “I won’t answer you that. I can’t. It’s impossible. How can I describe it in a word?” Without any special claim, however throughout our conversation, he clearly defines what the DoP’s work is for him.  It is a combination of talent and intuition. That’s it. It’s just that simple.

I am telling you, this boy is a combination of good values, sanity, camera, imagination and a smile.

I would call this talent and intuition. What about you?