Michael Ponomarev
Michael Ponomarev
Director (Russia)
Michael Ponomarev is director, writer and journalist from Russia. He started his way in the social advertising and music clips and also in the experimental shorts. "The Edge" is his debut movie in the classic feature form, but still it has the unconventional directors' perspective that represents the social issues all around us.
We asked Michael to share his filming experience

— Tell us a little about your experience? Was it only a film connected or you did/do something else?
— It's been thirteen years since I started my way as a director and it was the eventful one. I started in theater, put the Martin MacDonah's The Pillowman on the stage, and lots of other theatrical performances. Including the one that I am still very proud of. It was the production
named Irish Clash! which was celebrating St. Patrick's Day. A peculiar satirical story of a rivalry of one Irish folk and the Scottish lad for the sake of being the prime nation of the entire world.
Under the mask of quirky humor, I put through the massage: the cross-national hostility is an archaic relic that prevents us (not only the metaphoric Irish and Scottish people) from the bright
cosmopolitan future. A little after I proceeded to clip making and the direction of the advertising and social videos.
Such a fine school of extreme filmmaking! Same time I found myself making numerous experimental shorts. Anyhow those films led me to my debut featurette film – The Edge.

— What inspired you to make your short film? How did you come up with that idea?

— Have you ever got a feeling that we are somehow living in two different dimensions at the same time? Well, I do. It is like to a wonderful world full of bright, talented, and sincere people, something dead, coldblooded, and full of hatred for any dissent suddenly breaks through. The figure, I think, is clear. That precise feeling is exact characteristic of our time and the main source of my inspiration.
The producer of the film, Julia Eleferenko, had a similar feeling when she came up with the idea of the film. She told the basis of the story to me, and it resonated so heavily in my heart that on the same day I found myself completely absorbed in writing the first draft. You bet, it was exactly what I wanted to bring to the screen, that relevant matter which I wanted to discuss with the viewer.
I and Julia have a bitter joke: we hope that someday our film will lose its relevance. But, sadly, it seems like it will be a while before it will happen.
—Tell us how it was to produce your film?

— The screenplay was ready in a couple of weeks, then we refined it a little more, like removed the obvious "over the top" episodes, softened some sharp edges, threw out certain arches, which seemed excessive to us. In the later stages, our actor Taras Leonov, who plays Major Sergei, helped a lot. It turned out he is a very knowledgeable person in the matter, so Taras added a lot of authenticity to our dramatic outline.
During the recruiting phase, we suddenly realized that our story really touches people. Unfortunately, our opportunities did not involve excessive spending, but, suddenly, excellent specialists agreed to participate in our project just like that, just because they liked the story, they shared our aspirations and concerns, and wanted to be a part of this picture. So the main part of the expenses was shooting equipment, food, props and locations. I won't tell you the exact numbers - I confess I didn't ask the producer of that matter…
But I can say for sure: a group of people united by the power of an idea is incredible puissant. Each shift was extraordinary, each crew member was maximally involved in the process, and emotions were overflowing – pure artistic passion! Of course, it couldn't do without conflicts and various incidents, which is understandable – for everyone, this film was something deeply personal ...
The longest step, surprisingly, was post-production. For various reasons (including the suddenly deceased hard drive with the source materials), the work on the picture took almost a year. But every cloud has a silver lining – thanks to a delay, I met a talented sound director and composer Ashur Sharopov, whose soulful and emotional synthesizer tunes made our film only deeper.
— Were there any funny or memorable moments on the set?

— There were, and quite a lot, including completely saucy ones, but I have one favorite. Our wonderful actor, Taras Leonov, at the end of the take suddenly and without leaving his character began singing "Through tundra, by the railway ..." (the Russian chanson song). It would be simply unforgivable to shout "Cut!" during such a brilliant performance.
This episode was not included to the final cut, but it was not lost on the editing table either! And I am happy to share it with you –
— What is your favorite film(s)?
— Such a complex question. Well, if the movie left a mark in my heart, gave an unforgettable emotional experience and, perhaps, added some professional finesse, then it can be confidently ranked among my favorites.
The list, of course, will turn out to be innumerable, so I will be relatively laconic: "The Lighthouse", a skillfully crafted and finely acted picture, combining mundane everyday motives and extraordinary biblical mysticism; "Stalker", an ambiguous film, but, at the same time, an incredible philosophical journey into the darkest depths of the human soul, and also an excellent guidebook for a filmmaker; "Mad Max: Fury Road", a stunning whirlwind of irrepressible action, a triumph of the flawless production, pure adrenaline symphony and one of the few action films where characters are truly deep and convincing.
— Give advice for those who want to make a film, but don't know from where to start?
— It is sad but the willingness, talent and a strong idea are not enough for this. And even deep specialized knowledge and colossal erudition do not always guarantee final success. But finding allies who share your ideas and views, specialists in different fields – actors, producers, cameramen, sound engineers, artists and other irreplaceable professionals – is the right way. I sincerely believe that people in our field need to be in touch, share experiences and help each other as much as they can.
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