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The New Film Language of “ScreenLife” with Wanted Director Timur Bekmambetov
I have been a fan of today’s guest since I first saw his mind-blowing film, Night Watch years ago. Timur Bekmambetov is an established director, producer, and writer who has built a name for himself both in his home country, Russia, and here in the U.S., making films, music videos, and commercials.
At first glance at his film, I became obsessed with Timur’s work and his filmmaking style.
He is the producer and director of Day Watch (2006), Wanted (2008), Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (2012), Profile ( 2021), and many many more.
Timur is a jack of all trades. His journey in the industry started with theater production design and soon he got the directing bug. While honing his directing skills, he took up producing which then led to movie production.
One of my favorite of his films is the genre-bending Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie, James McCovey, and Morgan Freeman.
Wesley Gibson (James McAvoy) is an office worker whose life is going nowhere. After his estranged father is murdered, he meets Fox (Angelina Jolie), who recruits him into the Fraternity, a secret society of assassins that takes its orders from Fate itself. Fox and Sloan (Morgan Freeman), the Fraternity’s leader, teach Wesley to tap into dormant powers. Though he enjoys his newfound abilities, he begins to suspect that there is more to the Fraternity than meets the eye.
Abraham Lincoln is reinvented as a vampire-killing president in this Timur Bekmambetov-directed action picture starring Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rufus Sewell, and Dominic Cooper. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith adapts his own book for 20th Century Fox. Tim Burton produces alongside Bekmambetov and Jim Lemley.
Timur’s latest project is Profile. The film was initially released in Russia in 2018 and is set to be released in the US on May 14, 2021.
Based on Anna Erelle’s non-fiction book, In The Skin of a Jihadist, the film contextualizes our digital life and fears. It explores the role of digital spaces in the recruitment of young European Women by ISIS. British journalist, Amy Whittaker sets on this investigation by creating a Facebook profile under the alias of Melody Nelson along with a persona online of a woman who has recently converted to Islam. The results are thrilling and eye-opening.
Profile was shot in a new film language called Screenlife.
What is Screenlife?
Screenlife is a new format of visual content that has grown from independent projects to full-length, world-renowned films, documentaries, and TV shows. Its main idea is that everything that the viewer sees happens on the computer, tablet, or smartphone screen. All the events unfold directly on the screen of your device. Instead of a film set — there’s a desktop, instead of protagonist’s actions — a cursor.
If you are involved in video production, cinema, or even video games, Screenlife is a new expressive environment for you, the potential of which is yet to be discovered. Before your eyes, there will be new tools to work with, such as the screen life recorder.
Bekmambetov produced the Screenlife film Unfriended, in which the action takes place on the screens of protagonists’ computers. With a budget of only $1 million, the movie raised $64 million at the box office worldwide. This new film language is extremely exciting. Timur and I discuss Screenlife, his visual style, his directing process, Hollywood politics, and much more.
Enjoy my conversation with Timur Bekmambetov.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- WATCH: Profile in Theaters May 14, 2021
- Timur Bekmambetov – IMDB
- Watch: Day Watch (Night Watch sequel)
- Watch: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
- DONATE to Feed America to help people affected by the pandemic
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
- $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
- The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons (COUPON CODE: IFHFILMPRODUCE)
- Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
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- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
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- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
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Alex Ferrari 0:04
I'd like to welcome to the show Timur Bekmambetov. Okay, um, hold on, I'm gonna get it Bekmambetov.
Timur Bekmambetov 1:40
Alex Ferrari 1:41
Yeah, I've been practicing for hours. Seymour, how you doing my friend, thank you so much for being on the show.
Timur Bekmambetov 1:48
Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be with you.
Alex Ferrari 1:52
Um, I, I've been a fan of yours. Since nightwatch. I remember when nightwatch came out. And it my mind exploded. I couldn't I could not believe what I was watching. And I became obsessed with you and your work and your style and all that stuff, which we're gonna get into all of that in a minute. But first, how did you get started in the film business?
Timur Bekmambetov 2:14
I was. I was production designer, stage designer, in the theater production designer, then I couldn't find the right director to work with. And I decided to direct myself. Then I, of course, then I couldn't find the right producer to help me to produce the movies. And I started I became a producer it just now then I then five years ago, I A producing screen light movies. I couldn't find the right tools to make screen light movies, because a different type of filmmaking, no cameras, and then I became an IT whatever inventor inventing new technology for new language.
Alex Ferrari 3:04
That's fantastic. Yeah, though, and we'll talk about that. And your new film profile, which uses that kind of screen. Is it called screen life?
Timur Bekmambetov 3:09
Green life. Yeah. Screen life.
Alex Ferrari 3:11
So that whole new, it's just genre of filmmaking right now, which is basically a film that takes place on a screen completely. The whole thing takes place. Like if you're on a computer screen. And it's an it's a new brand new narrative story. technique is a really interesting way.
Timur Bekmambetov 3:30
Yeah, and I would like to correct you.
Alex Ferrari 3:32
Yes, please. It's
Timur Bekmambetov 3:32
not right. It's not a genre. It's a language. You can use this language to tell stories of any genre. Yeah, because we produce horror movies like unfriended detective stories like searching. And we produce Romeo and Juliet, the last year. It's a classical tragedy. And now we are finishing disaster sci fi movie about alien invasion. And it's with ice cube and Eva Longoria. And many, many other type of movies like musicals and comedies. And, and it's all screen live, because just new language. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 4:23
yeah, absolutely. You're absolutely right. Thank you for the correction. Because you're right. I mean, because now as you were saying that I'm like, ooh, an alien invasion. Like that would that would be kind of interesting. It was kind of like when you saw signs and and Shyamalan signs. It all took place inside basically an alien invasion. But all you saw was television. glimpses. Yeah. And it was all happening in that farmhouse, which kind of like okay, it's all happening on your screen and a giant alien invasion might be happening, which will be I'm can't wait to see that one. That'll be very interesting. Both so before.
Timur Bekmambetov 4:54
Yeah, but the difference is that the screen led with quite different Because before, it was just different ways to tell stories about physical space, we're really, but because now we live in two spaces at the same time and physical and digital. And in digital world in digital space, we spend so much time and so many important events of our life happening in digital space. That this is, this becomes the only way to understand who we are and where we go and what we looking for. And it's why it's why screen life is very, very contemporary and necessary.
Alex Ferrari 5:44
Yeah, it's really interesting as well, because you're absolutely right. Like, you know, when my children were born, my grandma, you know, the grandparents weren't in the room, they were being facetimed you know, you know, or we're off on vacation somewhere. If they can't be with us, we could show them or the kids, you know, they have seen during this quarantine for God's sakes. I mean, our you know, grandkid, the grandparents had been seeing the kids grow up this last year all through FaceTime, or through Skype or through something along those lines. And it is you're absolutely right, most of our life is on screens at this point, like a lot of our time is spent on screen and important in important moments. It's not just Facebook, and but that's part of it. But all those other things. It's you're absolutely right.
Timur Bekmambetov 6:27
Yes, it's so my, my my wedding. anniversary was in, in zoom. My in our interview is in zoom too, by the way, right Skype? And, and I don't know, and the robbing banks. Like, for example, robbing banks today. It's not about masks and guns. Because there is nothing to get, it's all about Yeah, about like a, like a, like a cracking code and, and stealing data. And even by the way, the aliens show that not to get some oil, whatever blood to get information. Because data is more important than is a data is a value,
Alex Ferrari 7:17
oh, massive value massive. the right amount of the right amount, the right kind of data is worth billions, if not trillions of dollars, if it's the right if it's the right kind of data. So it's we're in a weird world. And I've been going down deep the rabbit hole of cryptocurrencies and NF T's and blockchain and all of that information, AI and AI as well. A world is changing so rapidly, and I feel like
Timur Bekmambetov 7:46
good details. The story is a friend of mine, the banker, and he said that their data, allow them to tell that the woman is pregnant before she got the test. Because Because big data allows them help them to, to compare different activities. And the woman. She doesn't know yet. But banks already has this information.
Alex Ferrari 8:16
That is terrifying. That is air it is 1984. It's 1984
Timur Bekmambetov 8:22
is why profile is is thrilling, because it is about the the technology. It's not about ISIS. It's not about terrorists. It's about it's about the technology and how we'll leave in this new world where we have no idea who we are. where's where's my space? Where's your space? What's good with evil, okay, it's just totally different. Totally different reality.
Alex Ferrari 8:54
Yeah, absolutely. Now, I wanted to ask you when you came out with nightwatch, which I have to ask you How the hell did you make nightwatch for such a little amount of money? Because it's such a big budget looking film. It looks like 100 million 100 50 million? Well, today's money back in 2004 is money or when I think it was around that time when it was released. Yeah, it wasn't it would have been maybe an $80 million movie at that point. But I know it didn't cost that much.
Timur Bekmambetov 9:21
Yeah, it's it's all about ideas, the ideas the fresh ideas and about the creativity and freedom because what do you need to prove things with 50 partners and investors then you can you can make everything reasonable with a cost effective and enjoy and can you get enjoy the process? Because the many many movies were destroyed by Because of the very difficult process of the, of the producing, you know, because if it costs hundreds of million dollars, then you have 100 people scared to lose their jobs and lose their jobs. Jobs. Yeah. And, and this creates, like a creates the atmosphere of the, like a fear and, and no responsibility and like it and the screen life kind of a way out because when the moment movie called like a nightmare which was like 2 million or seven I don't know remember how much it gave us a freedom to be crazy to be creative to be to express yourself. And it's why it's green life is a future I think. So it's it's a language. Every filmmaker can make a movie with the cost of the like a writing book is the same, right? You need a pen and paper to write this you need the laptop and your talent.
Alex Ferrari 11:07
Now with nightwatch You know, when nightwatch came out, I saw it early on. And the visuals of it were so impactful. I mean, they were just something like stuff I've really never seen before. And I've I've been a cinephile, most of my life worked in video stores, and I've seen studied all the greats. But your style was so unique, you know? And then obviously when you did wanted and day watch that kind of you know, when wanted show up, and we'll talk about wanted in a minute, but it was just so visceral, the the the visual style of it. Who are your influences? And how did you kind of come up with this length? Because it's a language it is so specifically you like after, after you there was a lot of copycats that tried to do what you do. But people like you and Zack Schneider and, and even Michael Bay, Tony Scott, they have very specific kinds of language yours is very specific, how did you come up with it?
Timur Bekmambetov 12:00
I told you I was the production designer, with the background, being an artist being developing the new visual languages. And also, I like to experiment I like to I like to put things not upside down. But like, they just to put things right way because we live in a world of stereotypes. Because of the week caught with the culture means stereotypes means like rules. And sometimes you need to step back and just be little, little crazy little childish, little, naive little unresponsible just to flip things, you know, just to, to, to feel something, you know, because it's what I what I do, I'm my way to create the chaos and then to try to organize it all you need to destroy things, you need to challenge everything the story, the the aesthetics, the rules of the genre. And then when you messing it, then somehow it gives you gives your gives you the energy and the venue to organize and when you're organizing, trying to tell the story then it will be your way it will be your story, and not somebody else. story I've been I know also is based on my I grew up in the in the country with very talented filmmakers like Eisenstein, or like a coolie shop created the editing or like the the editing system. And as you Stein the poetry of cinema like and then we had a I watched a lot of art movies from the 70s and 60s 70s 80s from European European filmmakers like Fellini and to God and I don't know why it was so popular in Soviet Union. They all these are art movies from from from Italy, and France and, and then I of course a I was a I was a I was a disciple of Roger Corman. This is probably the easiest. That's amazing. Oh, who am I? Because I made a I made a first move with him.
Alex Ferrari 14:39
I you worked with Roger, really? I didn't know you work
Timur Bekmambetov 14:42
with Roger at the beginning. Yes, friend of mine, my mentor, love him. He's a he's a real filmmaker. He loves movies itself. And I think maybe it's an answer. I mean, maybe it's an answer. Maybe the movie I made like wanted is Roger Corman movie? Oh, B movie made B movie. Whatever.
Alex Ferrari 15:06
B movie made with a little bit of a little bit of higher budget.
Timur Bekmambetov 15:11
Yeah. Midnight, which is also Yeah, I made a movie for him with him spent a lot of time with him. He was in Russia. And we spent days talking about the, his his backstory, and then he gave me a lot he gets, he has a childish whatever, like he, he's in love with the cinema itself, you know, like, not specifically, like he's very, very educated very. He has very good taste. But at the same time, he's he he can, he has a sense of humor and lightness, you know, allowing his movies to be audience friendly, you know? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And that's what I think this is what Who am I? I think it's it came from it's a mix between Fellini and Roger Corman. But, but it's not funny. It's so funny because I think he was official distributor of Fellini movies in the United States. Yes, he was. He has rights for all art movies. Yes. Art movies.
Alex Ferrari 16:27
Yeah, people think of Corman only as these kind of schlocky, you know, like straight b movies that he would pump out like and never lose a dime on. But he's, he's a very, very educated man. And very smart film producer is probably one of the most legendary film producers of all time. And he gave so many filmmakers his their start from Coppola to Scorsese, to Ron Howard to jack nicholson, and the list of James Cameron. I mean, it just goes on and on. So yeah, but I've never connected the two Fellini and Corbin in the same conversation. And if I wouldn't, that was not the answer I was looking for. That's not the answer. I expected. And I was like, Wow, that's a great answer. Because Roger Rogers are amazing. He's, he's,
Timur Bekmambetov 17:12
he's remarkable. You know, you know, you know, a friend of mine is here as a film festival in Russia a few weeks ago. It's a sci fi Film Festival. new one, and I called him and I said, Roger can do can you help people and be like, in jewelry? And like it is? Yeah, yeah. And he recorded this speech. And he said, unfortunately, cannot come because of the COVID. But he recorded the speech and he was in jury he gave his advisors and that's unbelievable. He's just, he has he has keep he's a man who knows? He has a freedom Yeah, he he's, he's not scared, you know? Oh, no,
Alex Ferrari 17:59
scared is not a word that I would imagine with with Roger Corman that for sure. That's not one of the words that I would associate with him at all. He's a legend a legend is definitely a word I would now when you when you go into pre production on a film, do you storyboard or do previous or do a combo of both, because it's very intense the visuals
Timur Bekmambetov 18:20
I do previous. And I love previous because it's only way to present my ideas to the Lego producer studio people because because sometimes, like for example, unwanted I had a I came with an idea that the Reds the James megaways should feed race with explosive materials to put the electronic flag like wires inside them to employ the factory of a fraternity of Morgan Freeman's team and the studio people were like looking at me like rats with explosive materials. What are you talking about? You know, sometimes I like new ideas very difficult to explain. It's why previous previous has helped to filmmakers to to explain what they think because storyboards is not enough.
Alex Ferrari 19:29
Now when when wanted hit Florida I mean hit Hollywood excuse me when I was in Florida. That's why I said that. When wanted hit Hollywood. It was like a bomb going off. I remember people around town and LA and everyone talking about wanton like this is the new way action films need to be made and it was it was very revolutionary. I mean, the last time something like that might have happened is maybe Top Gun when Tony Scott showed up, or Michael or one The Rock showed up or bad boy shut up with Michael Bay, there was a new visual language that was created by these artists. And when you showed up, everyone's like, oh god, this is the future of action movies. They all have to look like this. Of course, that's what Hollywood would say. But what was it like? Because I have to imagine that. I mean, you were the belle of the ball. You were that you were the very pretty girl that everybody wanted to dance with and date. So what was it like being in the center of that kind of hurricane that was wanted? Hit? I mean, I'm sure everybody wanted to talk to you. I'm sure you were taking meetings everywhere. What was that? Like?
Timur Bekmambetov 20:35
I didn't know what. I don't remember. Honestly,
Alex Ferrari 20:41
I lost it a year later. But yeah, watch it again. Yeah.
Timur Bekmambetov 20:45
Yeah. Just one second. Just one second. Yes, Gigi. Yeah, I, it was a, there was a time because I have two lives at the same time, because I have a Russian, my Russian team in the Russian project. And I have a project in the United States. And by the way, I shot two movies at the same time, secretly in Prague wanted in the Russian iron your fate, another Russian? Christmas curious, was it Christmas comedy. And it was done at the same time? and released all at the same time. And it was very different.
Alex Ferrari 21:29
Timur Bekmambetov 21:30
I know, it helped me because I was not scared that there is there I will lose something. And I got the Russian Russian backlot helped me to feel independent. And, and, and experiment with with different forums. And, like being it myself, I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 22:02
Yeah. And when you were working also on wanted, I mean, was that the first time you really had like, giant mega stars, and you had Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. Was that intimidating at all? Or had you worked with other big actors like that? before? It was,
Timur Bekmambetov 22:15
it was it was fun. I mean, it was it was fun. It was, it was challenging, because, because of probably the language was was an issue. Especially with James because he had his Scottish accent and it's very difficult for me to understand. And, but it was fun because I, the all professionals, they all looking for old profession is very, especially Angelina, she's just absolutely focused, how to make things the best. And, and it's challenging, of course, it's not easy. Because she wants to surprise people. She wants to do something nobody done before. But especially this, this famous shot. Famous for me. When she kills herself. I wanted Oh, scratch and, and because she just said okay, I will I will be in the movie, but I want to kill myself. And then and and the studio said okay, this probably will never happen because we cannot we cannot like put the gun in her mouth. Nobody will watch this movie. And I and I spend like few days just trying to figure out how to find a way how to kill how she can kill herself cool way like some, like unusual somehow logically. For for the story, but cool. And then this was an idea. I came up with an idea that she will bend the bullet bullets of kill 19 people and kill herself at the same the same time. And then I sent her this storyboard. And and she said yes. And this is a perfect example. The Death Stars provokes you to do to surprise to push something. Yes. Yeah. To push. Yeah. They they you cannot just do something mediocre. And it's, it's, it's very, very important.
Alex Ferrari 24:30
And so yeah, when you're with with when you're worth when you're working with certain level of actors, and I've had the pleasure of working with really high calibre Oscar nominated actors in my career. When you when you walk into the room, everyone knows it and then they're always you've got to lift your level up to them and they're going to push you in challenging you is because it just have so much more experience than you do a lot of times that I mean a Morgan Freeman and an Angelina who'd like she's been on a set pretty much her entire life. Like she's gonna have ideas, and she's gonna push you and challenge you. But I was wondering like,
Timur Bekmambetov 25:05
with the light I, yes, I never had a, and never had a problem of learning something. Right? If people give these ideas, it's good for me and I am happy to hear. At the end of the days, of course, there is a political process how to keep things. organized, you know, but but, but because I made a lot of commercials in my last Congress of commercials, I remember how to play this political game with a lot of people having voice but, but I was happy that because I had a Chris Pratt and then unwanted and join in Morgan Freeman. Chris Pratt was a with a fat boy. Yeah, that's
Alex Ferrari 26:03
not the action started yesterday.
Timur Bekmambetov 26:05
Yeah. And, and I had a great team, and just everyone had an ideas and, and I was lucky, because it's great. They were all for me. But the tone was important for me to keep the tone and the style of the movies I like. And then they just helped me to do. And it was exciting.
Alex Ferrari 26:31
Now, when you were when you were, I started in commercials as well. So I know what you're talking about, of handling the client, and this and the production company agency and the agency and all of that stuff. That is really great training ground for working? Yes, it really is. Because it's a whole other level of politics. I feel it's a bit more political, then because you're you're serving multiple masters on a commercial set, as opposed to a Hollywood set what you are multiple masters.
Timur Bekmambetov 27:01
Do you know what I have, I had my own interpretation of Yeah, not serving masters, entertaining people. For me, when I made commercials. With all these people, the clients and agency and they our audience, as your audience in a year to entertain them, they need to they must be surprised, and confident and confident and surprised at the same time. It's exactly the same process you need just to make to create something which will change Margot Julian Julie Murphy will say, Oh, it's cool. Let's try you need to create ideas. entertaining, you know, and producer they should. And I really like really like when you have a good producer like Mark block who has worked with and you really like to do something to to entertain, you know, just to make them feel Wow, it's it's like little scared. But but you got because the new something new but but good producer the the the feel the audience and they can
Alex Ferrari 28:15
understand you as as a filmmaker, you should feel a little bit of fear when you're out there, you should feel like you're a little bit on the on the on the on the line and you might have you might have a safety net, you might not but when you're on the edge like that, that's where really fun stuff. Because when I do stuff I get I try to push myself and get scared. I'm like, I've never done that before. Let's let's just jump in and see what happens. As opposed to like Okay, here we go. Again, we're gonna do the same thing. I've done 1000 times. So and you imagine are constantly pushing yourself like shooting wanted and a romantic comedy at the same time, but two different
Timur Bekmambetov 28:51
stages and stages in frog don't you? And also because I never had a dream to work in Hollywood. I mean, it was not my It was not my like, even plan. It just happened itself.
Alex Ferrari 29:08
Like how did it
Timur Bekmambetov 29:11
I made it I made Roger Corman movie for fun, because it was like $300,000 budgets in Russia, and they're, like, very funny with the two playmate girls, but of course, he said he said to blame in girls to play women, gladiators in ancient Rome. This
Alex Ferrari 29:32
Timur Bekmambetov 29:34
And then and then then amazing night, then I was trained well to make nightwatch right and, and we made a nightwatch for fun with little money and there was like few millions but and then suddenly, I I made commercials where the commercials were very popular in Russia and I was kind of infected By this interesting feeling when you do something and next day on the street people
Alex Ferrari 30:10
the, the viral ness of it Yeah.
Timur Bekmambetov 30:12
Wireless. Yes. And it's, it gives you these like a drug you know, you cannot live without it. And, and then Roger Corman and then night, which I just played, like was crazy playing with my subconscious like ideas and, and my aesthetic goal preferences, whatever, and then suddenly became a hit. And then next morning, the next morning, I think at the release of the after the weekend, the next Monday who called me, Harvey Weinstein called me and said, and said, I, Hey, how you doing? Like my, my boys? Oh, you flew all the way to Moscow to sign the deal with you. You will be in my next movie, something like that. And as Oh, no, no, we're coming. He was Angeles. And then we had a long process of picking the partner. And finally it was Jim gianopolous. And Fox. Not a very
Alex Ferrari 31:16
good move. What good move at this point. Good move.
Timur Bekmambetov 31:22
Yes, I never I never had a problem with him. Yeah. We made a few movies. It was Apollo 18. We made it Yeah. horror movie and in with the last one was with the with Cumberbatch and the current war.
Alex Ferrari 31:43
Oh, yeah. The current one. That was great. I love that. Yeah.
Timur Bekmambetov 31:47
This this my I mean, it's why I'm set when mentioning it. I never had a dream to be a Hollywood director or producer. I just just happened and it was lucky. Whatever. I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 32:04
Yeah. You kind of you kind of listen a lucky Yes. But you also it's not like someone you were just doing nothing and someone knocked on your door. Hey, do you want a Hollywood deal? You were doing stuff. And you made enough noise in Russia, where people were like, Hey, wait a minute. We want to do business with with tomorrow. We want to get into so yeah, there was that. But it wasn't like your goal. Like I need to get to Hollywood. No, it just happened to show up. But you were ready, though. It wasn't like you were just hanging out. And they're like, oh, let's give this kid a shot. You were a very established filmmaker at that point in the game. No, no, I
Timur Bekmambetov 32:33
did what I would what I love, like the the idea of the things I love and I never worked for hire and
Alex Ferrari 32:45
right you weren't, you weren't a hire, you weren't a paycheck director, you're gonna do the work that you want to do. And that's exactly what you've done. Which brings me to the next question. I have to ask you, Abraham vampire killer. How did this come into play? How does this even like when I heard it? I was like, This is ridiculous. And then I go, Oh, he's ultimate? Oh, well, well, then let's take a look.
Timur Bekmambetov 33:05
He said it's just it's a set step Grammys. He wrote this book. And, and I was, I was probably had the reputation of like a crazy person who can do crazy stuff. And they asked me to direct this. And it was fun. And I unfortunately, the link is too important for for American people. And I and it was very difficult for me to find the right tone, tone, because, and I was I was jumping from seriousness to insanity to Jiu Jitsu whatever. But it was different. It was quite it was it was experiment for me. Can we mix two things like she legend? Like the the basement of the of the whole American
Alex Ferrari 34:08
American philosophy? Yeah,
Timur Bekmambetov 34:11
and the Roger garment can come to mix it didn't exist. And we tried and we tried it's no but
Alex Ferrari 34:20
it's still a good movie. Still a fun movie. It still did well over I think it did well overall. Right? It did financially. Well. Did some Yeah, it did some business, no question. But it's like you're essentially for Americans, Abraham Lincoln's like Jesus. So it he has he has a very kind of Prophet, Messiah kind of energy. He's He's almost mythical. He's mythical.
Timur Bekmambetov 34:43
Yes. And yeah. And honestly, in the during the process, it changed me because I started as a like a, as a as a just playing with it with it with the image. And then little by little his whole story. his, his life and his what he had done. And suddenly, I understood it understood by making movie you know, right now this is not pre loaded.
Alex Ferrari 35:12
Yeah, it wasn't. In other words, yeah, you I was raised like that I was raised here. I was born here. So I know Abraham Lincoln, I've been taught that since I was a child for you, you just heard of the image and then slowly you you learn to respect him and respect his journey and you're like, Okay, how are we going to do this with the vampires now?
Timur Bekmambetov 35:31
He had very difficult choices in his life. He Oh, he, like, took responsibility. And, and, and it's in paid paid for for his choices.
Alex Ferrari 35:44
Right. And then of course, the vampire hunting was another thing.
Timur Bekmambetov 35:47
I By the way, by the way, I think the I think, I think, yeah, okay, this is different conversation. Because I, I think, okay, let's, let's
Alex Ferrari 36:03
move on. No problem, no problem. Let's keep. So let's talk about so let's talk about your new film profile. And I've had the pleasure of watching profile. And can you tell the audience a little bit about what profile is about
Timur Bekmambetov 36:16
the profile, it's about our digital life, it's about all our fears. Exploring the new new world we believe now, we never, it's not about the, it's not about ISIS, it's not about even the like, it's a trailer about our life in, in digital forms, you know, like, like, we, we spent more than half of our life today, half our day today, in stare, like, playing with a screen. We really like interacting with the screen like now. And, and, and we all feel feel like a deep feeling like we feel fear that we don't understand this world. We it's like everyday is like, like, you know, all four great horror movies. They are usually in like, a part like in very casual, right, like suburbia.
Alex Ferrari 37:26
Timur Bekmambetov 37:29
Yeah. And it's the same effect with with the, with the screen light with the, with the profile, we understand all the clicks, and zooms and, and swipes and, but we don't really understand what what is what's what's, what's the, what's be what is behind it, we don't understand why people are dead, but these accounts still active. And you can get suddenly a message from your friend who died year ago saying Happy birthday, because he just he just pulled the button send you messages every year. And it's me they did the the border between life and death doesn't exist in digital world. And, and also, you don't know where who controls your data, like you don't know who can call you, you you're not protected. You know, like we know the world's our door closed. Because there is a street there is like your house, and you have a gun to protect your house. But in interview, you don't have it. And suddenly you can understand that, for example, the fear of sending a wrong message to get
Alex Ferrari 38:57
you text the wrong person or email the wrong person something that was not
Timur Bekmambetov 39:00
often sometimes it's very sometimes very, very tragic. Because so many families fell apart so many people were were like, Yeah, because just you push the button. In we, we we know this world. We think we know this world. It's very real, very ordinary. But we understand that we don't have trust, we don't have we don't have trust, how to live in this world. You know, we don't know what's good, what's evil in this world. Like because cyberbullying like, like hating. And, and no, like a like security, you know, like safety. It's doesn't exist, you know? It's, it's, you know why? Because you can write any like rules and publish it and government can try to control it, but it doesn't work until people Until filmmakers or writers will write stories, emotional stories about our behavior in this world, and you will by watching this stories, you cry or you for your love, like smiling or you like a scared until you will processes emotionally. You don't understand what's good was evil. We don't have we don't have 10 commandments about digital world. No, no. We don't know what's the seven deadly sins? Like, what does it mean for digital world? For example, one of the deadly sins it's like, for example, it's like a, you're eating too much. You're like you're gluttony. And then yeah, and in digital world, it's a way of consuming so much data, so much information. That it's, it's a, it's destroying us status. We don't have. Yeah, we don't with stocks and or, or for example, we people chasing like, we want to be popular, get more likes, or no or whatever. This is also the one of the deadly sins, you know, I mean, screen life. It's a it's a language. First time, helping us to adopt digital space for for four hours for human beings to somehow to understand, to reflect, to express yourself to understand how to leave in this new reality. We, especially after the COVID we've all there.
Alex Ferrari 41:45
Now, do you guys in the movie, you were shooting some stuff? Like obviously, there's footage so there's like footage in the hotel rooms and footage out in, in, in, in Syria? and all that, did you? How did you shoot that? Like Did you give literally give it to people to walk around with? No,
Timur Bekmambetov 42:03
no, no. It was first time it was a we should have no real. She was in me like she was in, in a small house in Cockney in East London. And below the character he was in, in the Middle East. I sent actor to like 3000 miles away. And they really connected. And, and and this whole scene happened when he was playing soccer, right dusty Street. And so
Alex Ferrari 42:44
that was all real. So that was all real.
Timur Bekmambetov 42:46
Yeah, it was a real conversations, real Skype conversation between people in different parts of the world. And it was important because I understood that the the digital connections, scribes creating some kind of interesting bucks like a delays or like Like, for example, when we talk online, we a little louder. We don't really show that we're trying to force to break this wall. And just to connect. And this, it was very important for me to recreate this, this real environment of online communication. And it's it's really visible. And also what was new in this week? Because we're not we didn't have the cameras. Yeah, we shot everything by recording the screens. And and we invented the methods when we gave actors to real screens where they can really call each other and and we record recorded the screens and gave them the chance to play like like almost like a theater.
Alex Ferrari 44:00
And how long How long did it take to shoot this?
Timur Bekmambetov 44:03
Like 10 days? Because Because we shot 15 days, 15 pages per day, like 15 minutes per day.
Alex Ferrari 44:11
That's insane. That's amazing. No, it's it. After watching it. Like I was telling you earlier it was eerie. I felt like I was watching someone else's screen like I was voyeuristic. But I was watching it also on my computer so it was even weirder for me. So I wasn't watching it on a television screen. So it was a very unsettling at the beginning of it like for me it's like I hadn't seen a movie like this before. So at first I'm like, how am I getting into this but by towards the end I'm just like, get out of there. Get like you're completely sucked in. So it's it's remarkable but but listen to Mark, thank you so much for being on the show. Where can where can people be where can people watch us? When, when, when and where?
Timur Bekmambetov 44:54
I hope it will be in a week in a week years. Okay and And I really, really hope that screen light will will, will get the audience attention and, and this new language very, very well you know, every film festival where we send this movie we got exactly the same price, you know, which is audience Audience Award. The professionals never gave us a price.
Alex Ferrari 45:30
But the audience did. So that's a good that's that's a very, very good side. My friend, Roger Corman, Roger Corman would be very proud of user. friend, my friend, thank you so much for being on the show and continue pushing the envelope and get if you're a little bit scared. When you're making it. That means it's only going to be good for us. So thank you so much for doing what you do, my friend.
Timur Bekmambetov 45:50
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Alex.
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Taught by veteran award-winning film producer and author Suzanne Lyons. The filmmaker behind over a dozen profitable low-budget feature films.