Film Director: Dimitry Kalinin | Uncovered

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.

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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.

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Holy Smoke stars:
Nickolas Grace
Timothy Walker
James Messer
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.

Photography: @robertovivancos

Nickolas Grace: Tell Me Candidely | Part Three

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Most Memorable Role
“That’s always one of the worst questions. How do you choose? It’s either fulfillment or success. So when you can combine the two that’s marvellous.”
“Being asked to play the role of Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited, changed my career because Brideshead was such a big hit. Antony Blanche was such an outrageous character. He was much larger than life. I was working with fantastic actors, a great producer called Derek Granger, and it was really down to him that it worked.
“An incredible cast, including, Gielgud, Olivier, Claire Bloom, Jeremy Irons, and Anthony Andrews. That changed my career, and people came started coming to me with offers. Which was fantastic. Then another performance that I felt at home, and in which I felt I accomplished something, was playing Mozart in Amadeus. That came out of Brideshead. I played Mozart opposite Frank Finlay as Salieriat in the West End. It was so fulfilling and I knew I could carry it off. Peter Shaffer was very flattering, and said yes ‘I think you are probably my Mozart’. That was great.
“In 1986 I was asked to play Lorca in the Spanish film TV series about Federico García Lorca, a famous Spanish poet. He was assassinated under Franco. Hear was the irony, to play this guy in a Spanish movie not knowing any Spanish, and having failed Spanish A level.
“At first they said ‘Don’t worry you can do it in English, and we will dub you’. So I did as much homework as I could. Day 1 we are on the film set and the wonderful director, Juan Antonio Bardem, and Javier Bardem’s uncle, asked if I could say my lines in Spanish as it was better for the dubbing, and I was like ‘Well, I can’t’. And he said ‘You try, you try’. So from then on I tried to learn as much as I could in Spanish. Playing Lorca was amazing.”

On Directing
“There was a wonderful organisation now long gone called the British Theatre Association and they owned two buildings in Fitzroy Square. Can you imagine what they are worth now? It was founded by George Bernard Shaw and Harley Granville-Barker, and it was a link between professional and amateur theatre. They would do summer courses for students to learn about acting. The teachers from the major drama schools would come and do voice and movement with us.”
“Then the BTA asked me in 1965 if I would direct the British entry for the Inter drama Festival in Berlin. So I directed my first play, Tobias and the Angel. I knew immediately that I liked directing, and I was 17. The play won the festival.
“Then 3 years later, in 1968, when I was at Central they asked me to direct the next British entry. .They didn’t want to release me from Central because it was term time, eventually they did, so being ‘big headed Nickolas Grace’, I adapted three plays by WB Yeats and called it The Hawk’s Well , and put it in at The Mercury theatre in Notting Hill Gate, which is now Charles Harts home. We then took it to Berlin and had another great time. So I have always enjoyed directing ever since.”

Stage, Screen or Directing?
“Teaching. I do think we should give back. I was lucky enough to have fantastic training at Central, so I do try and give back. I teach and direct at Central when I can, and also go up to Liverpool to teach at Paul McCartney’s drama school called LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts). So I go up there when I can.”
“I’m a huge fan of his and he really does put his money where his mouth is. His old school, The Liverpool institute was derelict and was going to be knocked down. So he said ok I’ll do a deal with the council, I’ll save the building and renovate it. So he put a lot of money and restored the beautiful Victorian building, modern, and it’s expanding next door into the old art school. It’s a really good drama school. He goes at least once a term to work with the students. I’m very lucky because I get fulfilment from all my work. I do love filming because the camera can take you anywhere it says I’ve got you now and I’m taking you on this journey.
“I have attached myself to certain charities including theatrical charities. One of the other charities is The Place To Be, which looks after kids from broken or dysfunctional families. The Duchess of Cambridge has become patron which is great. They do a lot of good work.”

Read the entire interview here: Part One | Part Two | Part Four

Nickolas Grace: Tell Me Candidely | Part Two

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This is the second instalment of the exclusive Nickolas Grace Interview. You can read Part One here too.
Part One

What Now
“Ironically, I failed Spanish A level. I rang Vanessa and asked if I could come and talk to her. I didn’t get my 3 A levels. She said well you’ve got to apply to all of the drama schools. I said but they are all full now, it’s almost August.”
‘Never mind she said You must write to them all.’
“So I did. Cutting a long story short, Royal Central had one vacancy, and offered me an audition if I wanted it.
“I went along on whatever day and there were about fifty other people, then it got down to twenty and then down to ten, and then two. It was me and this incredibly handsome boy, and I thought well at least I can say I nearly got in and this really handsome boy did. By the end of the afternoon they said right, Nickolas Grace come down to room E, and I waited and waited and no one came so I thought god why can’t they just tell me. So I crept into the office and said ‘Excuse me, I’m Nickolas Grace and I’ve been waiting’ they went ‘ what did you say your name was?’ I said again ‘Nickolas Grace’ she went ‘ oh you are in, you’re in, sorry we forgot to come and tell you’.
“Three years later I finished college and the head of the school asked me, ‘Do you remember your audition?’ I said ‘Well how could I forget?!’ He said ‘Do you remember there was a classically handsome boy that auditioned with you?’ I said ‘Yes’. He went on ‘Well he’s Helmut Berger and he’s a bit of a film star now’. So I was a lucky boy to get in but I thought if I hadn’t maybe I’d have been a film star too.
“Getting into Central was my dream. It’s where Laurence Olivier, Peggy Ashcroft, Vanessa Redgrave, Julie Christie had all gone. So getting in and doing three years there was fantastic. I was very very lucky.”

Proud Parents
“Yes they was proud, but they didn’t like to show it. My Mum told me that when any visitors come round, dad would say, ‘have you seen this bit from Brideshead Revisited, Robin of Sherwood, or Col Porter, look at this look at this etc…'”
“When he came to see me in my show I did in the west end in 1991, he came secretly to a matinee because he didn’t want to come backstage. He was proud of me but he couldn’t come round to me and say ‘fantastic’. He was a bit scared of showing his emotions. I’m one of four: a very happy family, and always secure.”

Lights, Camera, Action
“Well my first job funnily enough was at Frinton in Essex. The joke always was if you can act, you’ll go straight into films or telly. And if you can’t act you’ll go ito weekly rep at Frinton-on-Sea in Essex. So Lynda Bellingham and I got offered Frinton on Sea weekly rep. Oh god. Haha. But it was the best job in the world because you’d just spent three years studying hard doing dancing, movement, voice. having to learn a play a week was putting everything into practice. So it was great. When we got there, feeling a little bit low, we looked on the big board in the Women’s Institute Hall which is where the summer theatre was, and it said previous members of the Frinton Theatre company included Julie Christie, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Dennison, so we thought, that’s not bad. We had a great summer. Then I went into rep in Manchester.”

Role Models
“It started from aged eight when I saw Sir Michael Redgrave play Hamlet. Also seeing Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir Alec Guinness. Alec Guinness was a great character actor. They were my heroes as a school boy before I went to Central. Seeing Vanessa Redgrave at Stratford playing Rosalind. It was an incredible production. It made her a star. She was beautiful. I always remember her being this stunning girl. So both she and her father inspired me. Also because at that time, Redgrave was one of our most versatile actors. He could do the classics. He was – very famous Richard II and Hamlet. Then I saw him in a farce, ‘Out Of Bounds’ in the West End and I thought I want to be as versatile as that.”
“Then I saw Olivier at the National Theatre and I realised he probably was the greatest actor of his generation. Because he could do the lot. He was incredible.
“I was lucky enough after drama school and Rep to get into The Royal Shakespeare Company, there was Dame Eileen Atkins playing Rosalind, Sir Alan Bates playing ‘Petruchio’, and many other great actors. I was very very lucky.”

Part three coming soon.

Nickolas Grace: Tell Me Candidely | Part One

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This is the first of a four part interview with the legendary Nickolas Grace.
From playing Albert Einstein in Dr Who to the Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca. The versatile actor and director is probably most loved and remembered for his roles as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham Robert de Rainault and the flamboyant Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited.

Nickolas shares some of his memorable achievements to date with the readers of Public Description in his own honest, humble and warm hearted style.

Where It All Began

“I’m one of those boring people that knew I always wanted to be an actor right from when I was little. Some background quickly. All my family are from Liverpool. Liverpudlian. So I love to pretend I’m Liverpudlian. But I’m not. Paul McCartney calls me a ‘Plastic Scouser’ because I was born posh. Which means over the water. I was born on the Wirral which is across the Mersey. But all my family are from Liverpool so I like to think of myself as Liverpudlian and I love going back up there.”

“As a kid my parents would take me to pantomimes, and I learned to read with Thomas The Tank Engine, books so I remember thinking ‘oh I want to be an engine driver’.

“Then they took me to pantomimes. I used to love those pantomime people.
I remember ‘Cinderella’ and Buttons. Buttons was wearing this beautiful blue suit.

“Then when I was 8, I was taken to Stratford upon Avon to see my first Shakespeare and it was Sir Michael Redgrave (Vanessa Redgrave’s dad) playing Hamlet. I just thought it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Apparently I got up and said to my elocution teacher ‘That’s smashing’ and she went ‘SSHHH!!!!!’ That was the combination that made me want to act.

“My mum and dad always encouraged me. My dad when we were living in Chester built me a small theatre at the top of the house and wrote me plays. My two passions at school were rowing and acting.”

Acting Dynasty

“I do have a connection with the film business. My great grandfather, on my father’s side, built some of the first cinemas in Liverpool. The cinema chain was called Empress Cinemas. No longer there sadly. Thomas Halliwell Hughes was his name and my dad idolised him. I can vaguely remember him as a little boy though, just this shadowy figure.”

“When I performed Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ with the Liverpool Philharmonic, someone in the chorus came up to me and said ‘I used to know your great grandfather, I worked for him in one of his cinemas’. I was very proud.”

First Lesson in Fighting

“When we moved down to Essex the only school that would accept my scholarship was called Forest in Snaresbrook, and they wouldn’t let me be in the school play, because I was a day boy and only boarders could be in the play. I felt it was ridiculous. That was my first lesson in fighting really. I remember saying to dad, well I can’t stay here because I’m not allowed to act, and he said well you have to start your own group then don’t t you. I thought of course I have.”

“So I started a group for the day boys. I went to the Headmaster and asked him and he said, yes. Then I wrote to Sir Michael Redgrave and asked if I could start
The Redgrave Society. No reply. After about fifteen letters I eventually got a reply written in red biro, saying:

‘Dear Nickolas Grace,
I suppose I am head of the clan. Yes I give you permission to start the Redgrave Society’.

“Then I went straight to Vanessa, because I was secretly in love with her, and said:

‘Dear Vanessa,

Your dad has given me permission to start the Redgrave Society, will you please be Patron, and she said I would love to be. When can I come and work with you at school?’

“I went back to the headmaster and told him that Sir Michael Redgrave had given me permission to start The Redgrave Society. He looked very surprised, and said ‘oh good’.

“I put up a notice on the school notice board saying, The Redgrave Society, patrons, Sir Michael Redgrave and Vanessa Redgrave. We probably had about 20 members at 15p a time to start with.

“When Vanessa said she would come and work with the society, I put up a notice on the board, saying ‘Vanessa Redgrave talks to The Redgrave Society’. Members only, please sign underneath. Overnight we had 500 boys, including boarders. If they wanted to join, I let them. I didn’t mind.
“I got girls in as well even though it was a boys school, I didn’t want boys playing girls parts, so I asked if I could write to all the headmistresses of all the local schools in Essex. Woodford, Loughton, Leyton, I wrote to them all.
“They all asked me to go and see them. Some of them were a little bit protective of their girls. In the first play we did, in the first year, we got one girl from Leyton County and the next year we got four or five and the year I left we got about five or six. So of course the guys wanted to join because there were girls in the society. A lot of the school masters were upset that I had brought girls into the school. I had broken the rules. Hooray!
“Years later when I told Sir Cameron Mackintosh, he said: ‘You should have been a fucking producer, Grace, not an actor!’”

Read the entire interview here: Part Two | Part Three | Part Four