I recently had the pleasure of viewing the Russian horror short Something to Save You (official website) and found it be marvelous. It’s currently seeking a distributor so expect to hear more about it in the future.
I also had the chance to ask director Vis Vitalis a few questions about the film.
DC: It must have been a nightmare filming in all that freezing snow!?
VV: Yes, sir! It was one of the most difficult shoots of my life! The same for the whole crew: night, cold, far from the city, with a limited budget. It was a challenge and we overcame it! The house where we shot the last scene and the scene with the fire had been empty since fall. Fall and negative temperature in Russia start in the end of September. The night when we were shooting the scene in the cold house (I wanted the vapor to be seen from their mouths), the temperature went down to -22F. During our last day of shooting (the scene with zombies in the yard), a snowstorm started. That’s why, to be honest, we couldn’t finish some scenes with the zombies. At the end of the day it could have been remarkable but the camera just shut down and the batteries ran out. Well, now I understand them difficulties Inarritu had while filming The Revenant.
DC: Do you think of this as being, first and foremost, a love story?
VV: Sure thing! Zombies in my movie are just a symbol of the world hostility that surrounds us. In its own way, every couple in love are in a cold house in the middle of a night, infested with zombies, in a figurative sense. And only love can save them. When my friends ask me ironically if I had filmed a zombie movie, I tell them I haven’t. I just had made a movie about people.
DC: And the chemistry between the two leads was great. Did they take to it naturally?
VV: Masha Bayeva and Pyotr Matushkov are amazing young actors. They met on the stage of this movie for the first time and acted it as if they were lovers indeed. All I can do is just to applaud their great job! They were wonderful!
DC: And in addition to writing and directing, you also worked on the cinematography?
VV: Yes, I did. I did all the storyboard work as well as stage work, and partially I worked with the lights too. And of course I was the editor!
DC: And, without spoiling it, the ending comes as a shock. Was that your intention all along?
VV: I love unexpected endings. I like it when the ending can answer all the questions people have had while watching the movie. The viewer has to be surprised and shocked! I like it when a movie can cause sincere feelings, when people feel compassion for the main characters. But the ending is the most important: It has to set everything in order, and, sorry for being repetitive, it has to be as unexpected as possible. That’s what I love in movies and I tried to make my film like that!
DC: What are you currently working on?
VV: In February of this year I made another, much shorter movie which is called The Balloon. And it’s not a zombie movie! It’s a thriller. It has it all too. It has everything that I like: atmosphere, good music, suspense, and an unexpected ending. The movie is dedicated to the Coen brothers and, frankly speaking, was made under their influence. And I say it proudly! They are some of my favourite directors. The Balloon and Something to Scare You are getting ready to be submitted to a number of festivals. Wish me good luck!
I’m also looking for an opportunity to work with other cinematographers, and I’d like to make a new movie outside of Russia. I’ll be glad to consider any collaboration offers.