Photography: Roberto Vivancos
Public Description caught up with exciting new film director Dimitry Kalinin, on set of one of his latest short films.
Elle: Dimitry, thank you for sparing some time to discuss your recent project and allow me to catch you in action filming ‘Holy Smoke’. You look quite at home being busy on a film set.
Your background is originally in banking, when did you realise you wanted to get into filmmaking?
Dimitry: I always loved theatre and films. Banking was a means to an end- to pay for my family in Siberia and to save money for my study as well as my projects.
Elle: A Writer/Director’s first film is often something deeply personal, could that be said for your first introduction into film?
Dimitry: My first film, called “Over” is a deeply personal film, which I filmed in West Cork, Ireland. I worked very closely with my writer, my partner; we were the only people in this remote cottage half way up a great hill, overlooking a sea loch. The solitude and melancholic beauty shaped the story and how I filmed it.
Top Left: Dimitry Kalinin in action
Bottom Left: Dimitry on set
Bottom Right: Scenes from Holy Smoke with Nickolas Grace and Timothy Walker
Elle: Can you tell us your influence for writing Holy Smoke’?
Dimitry: I simply wanted to make a light comedy set in a church.
Elle: ‘Holy Smoke’ has an excellent cast. How did you decide upon choosing who would play your characters?
Dimitry: I decided that I want to approach actors I personally knew and whose performances I have admired. I met Nickolas Grace about 7 years ago at a wake. I could not believe it he was talking to me. I saw Brideshead Revisited in Russian as young man and in Germany as well. I approached a friend in common to ask him to see me. I sent him the script and few days later I had his number and we had a coffee in Notting Hill for few hours. He was incredibly generous to give his time for a student film project as was Timothy Walker.
I have known Timothy for some time. He recommended to me the Raindance courses where I did my first filming making and producing course. Timothy is an amazing character actor and I wanted him to play three different roles in my film- like Alec Guinness in “Kind Hearts And Coronets”. But the time for the filming was very tight and the make up artist would have needed time to do make up for a vicar, bishop and an old Lady. Timothy would have been superb playing all the roles.
By chance I went to see a play in the Old Vic Tunnels where I saw James Messer on stage. I thought he was perfect for the part as an Altar Boy. I wrote him a letter backstage asking him to see the script. He said yes to me as well. I could not believe it that I had got such an amazing professional cast. I was dancing in the street.
Elle: In three words, how would you describe ‘Holy Smoke’?
Dimitry: Flamboyant, funny and smoky
Elle: What other films have you completed?
Dimitry: I have made three short films. Two films I made with the same writer- my partner Stephen Dawson with whom I am now working on a documentary. I also worked with a Parisian writer who wrote a very personal script about a secret marriage. We filmed it in December last year.
Elle: Do you have aspirations to act in one of your films one day or prefer to stay behind the camera?
Dimitry: I don’t think I want to act now. I prefer to be in charge of the situation. I love working with actors. They are my Gods and I am their slave and they know it.
Elle: Film making is often a time consuming job what do you do to relax?
Dimitry: Going to the gym. Gym is my meditation time where I can listen to my music and think about new projects. I love motorbiking as well. All my activities are connected with music. I even ride the bike listening to music.
Elle: What can you tell us about your directing style?
Dimitry: Gentle, I plan everything in advance and need to stay calm during the shooting.
Elle: When do story ideas usually hit you?
Dimitry: I love having a conversation with friends on a one to one basis. Spending an evening with creative or engaging people gives me a buzz and ideas for other projects. That is how I got my ideas for the documentaries and I am doing an adaptation – The Diary Of A Madman by Gogol with Timothy Walker.
Elle: What’s the best advice you could give someone new to filmmaking?
Dimitry: Just do it with any equipment you have. Your family and friends would love to take part in your film.
Elle: Finally where do you want to go from here?
Dimitry: The next big step is to make a feature film. That is already written in outline and a full script and all the other thousand preparations are underway.
Nickolas Grace on the set of Holy Smoke
Public Description would like to thank Dimitry for his time and wish him every success with his two films which have already received rave reviews.