Mikhail, you won TMA’s Best Music Video back in March 2020 (seems so long ago already), congrats!)
First, I would like to say that Varya and I are very thankful to the TMA festival as it was an honor to get “Best Music Video” award.
To this day, “Ashageta” got more than 15 international awards at different types of film festivals.
The video shows artist Varya Demidova performing “Ashageta”. Did you work with her before? How did you get attached to the project?
It was our first project, but I am sure not the last one. I have been looking for long time for a performer whose songs could be filled with a creative spark, a performer who I connect with and can create things that are “outside of the box”.
Varya is a very popular performer who has collaborated with world known group B-2, who’s songs are considered to be sort of classic in Russian Rock culture. I contacted Varya and we discussed the possibilities of making a music video for her new song. It was definitely a great opportunity to make something beautiful and creative.
What is your background and what led you to the MusicVideo community?
My general background includes Commercials, Film and TV. These experiences have taught me the technology of production, to be open-minded and very detail oriented. Of course, I have done some music videos before “Ashageta”. The biggest plus of music videos as a form of art is that this type of project allows you to have more creative freedom. I love when an artist has a mind-blowing vision, it enables creative discussions and endless possibilities. As a result, you are getting a good amount of ideas to choose the best one from.
You are from Russia, so is the artist. The music video takes advantage of astounding natural locations. Where did you film, and how many sets did you use?
“Ashageta” was mostly shot in Turkey, mainly. We went across that wonderful country to find these incredible places. Because of the dream sequence in the video, we wanted to have not only visual diversity like beaches, deserts, valleys, mountains, old towns, but also to show unusual characters like dervishes and fire performers. The stunts were done in Moscow with a big crew. Models who I have worked with before know that I love to do unique heart pumping shots, of course I offered Varya to do some incredible water and air stunts, and she was excited to do something like that. We found a huge pool to shoot the underwater part and had an incredible team of stunt professionals to make Varya fly up above the bed. At the end of the day we had around 15 different locations.
These incredible sets are paired with Visual Effects that push the envelope and create an eerie atmosphere, underlining the journey of the main character. Can you sum-up the concept of the video?
The main idea of the video is she is going through a journey within herself while going through the dream. The girl who is looking for answers. She is traveling door to door, outside of time and space and through the worlds, where anything is possible, even several moons in the sky in the middle of a clear, bright day. She is struggling, trying to overcome her inner demon, who is attempting to distract her from self-journey, however as soon as she is able to find inner peace and harmony, as if it was a magical medallion, she transforms and redefines herself at the same time figuring out all the answers she was searching for. At the end she wakes, somehow still maintaining connection with her transformed inner self.
Back to the underwater scene: it must have required a very special setup. Can you walk us through the key specifics to make it happen?
Sure, any stunts require a team of professionals and a controlled environment. We needed to find a big pool with a glass wall or sort of a window. That is why we decided to shoot that part in Moscow. We found an incredible place, made a setup of black plastic inside the pool and sort of podium for jumps. Of course, we had a CPR certified person on stand-by, in case we had to provide CPR and/or first aid. We did some modifications to the singer’s dress, so each part of it could move more fluently and gracefully in water. The head of the Stunts department and Varya had to thoroughly go over and rehearse all the proper techniques and was on stand-by to make sure that each jump was safe. It was not easy for Varya, as she had to not only properly brace herself but also be able to flow it into graceful moves under water, immediately after the jump. It wasn’t always coming out pretty and graceful, as it was planned, however, Varya was super strong and wanted nothing short of perfection, as she kept on trying to do a take after take, in order to reach the desirable outcome. As a result, we got a lot of incredible footage.
What is your next project, and where can we follow your work?
Right now, I work in NYC for RTVI TV channel as a chief production director. We have more than 11 million viewers around the world, people in 50 countries can watch our new shows. We already launched several incredible highly rated projects. For example, “Amazons of XXI century” is a series of documentaries about women who immigrated to the U.S. and found themselves on different paths of success. The leading idea behind the show is to empower women by demonstrating strong characters, revealing all the struggles these women faced, and their achievements when they left everything to come to America. The host of the show is Alina Polianskikh. We are preparing a new season of programming, which includes documentaries, entertainment and educational shows.
But of course, I am always opened to new projects with singers and other artists. As I mentioned before, music videos give me a creative freedom and flexibility for storytelling, which adds value to my craft. That is why I am always in search of and trying to get to know as many artistic people as possible.