Deciding Between Two Catastrophes
An interview with Marina Moshkova, noted down by Daniel Bickermann.
Please tell us something about yourself: You attended film school in St. Petersburg when creating this film - was it a student film with special conditions or requirements?
This year I graduated from St. Petersburg State Univercity of Cinema and Television, the speciality – directing of animation and computer graphics. The film In scale was made as a student film under the supervision of my tutor Sergey Ovcharov. The film was rather successful – it won the best animation award in our student short film festival and then was shown and awarded in a lot of international festivals. That's why I chose it also to be my final year degree film. I didn't expected but as a result I was chosen to be the Best Graduate Student 2009 of my university. This fact made me more to smile than to be proud but still it was pleasant for me.
When and how did you decide to become a filmmaker? And since your short film represents Russia in our little European Short Film Exhibition – do you feel that your background is typical for your generation of Russian filmmakers?
I liked to draw and loved the animation since I was little and always dreamt to do something connected with cinema. My parents work in cinema as well (my mother is a film critic and my father is a sound designer), so they helped me to choose the right university to enter. I'm not sure if my background is typical for all young Russian filmmakers, but I think it is like a tradition to be interested in and to study cinema in such "cinematographic" families as mine.
Could you describe the short film culture in Russia for us? Is it seated mainly in Moscow and university centes or are there many amateur film circles?
Yes, Moscow has been always the biggest center of cinema culture, because there are the best cinema schools in Russia. Almost all great Russian filmmakers graduated from the Russian State University of Cinematography named after Gerasimov or the High School of Scriptwriters and Film directors. But now I can say that my university – St. Petersburg State University of Cinema and TV – also became one of the best in Russia. A lot of Russian honoured cinema workers are professors of this university, and my tutor Sergey Ovcharov is one of them. Lately the number of amateur film circles is increasing very fast. There are also a lot of not official cinema clubs, where young filmmakers can show their films to the public. And of course there are many short film festivals in Russia – not only in such big cities as Moscow or St. Petersburg, but also in small cities all over the country. The only problem is that the goverment doesn't support short film culture in the country too much, and that's why a lot of festivals "die" soon. Also the short film market is not developed yet in Russia. Television is mostly not interested in broadcasting short films, so it is very difficult to sell your film in our country – not only for young filmmakers but also for famous and honoured filmmakers.
Where did the original idea for this film come from?
The idea came from one task of my tutor. The task was to find some proverb and to create a story based on it. I chose the proverb which said: "after me, the deluge". I just imagined that it should be a story about a little creature who cares only about itself and doesn't notice that it destroys the world around. So this is how a little bird has appeared.
Your film juxtaposes mathematical scale and rational/moral scale. It feels like an allegory on the way the world as a whole can be destroyed by well-meaning work on the details. Would you consider your film political?
I wouldn't consider my film political. This is just the civilisation – when people created so many things to improve their live – built cities, invent cars, aerostats, trains, dams etc. So now they so depend on all this, that if something will be destroyed, a lot of people can die. So maybe people should stop before they didn't create something really dangerous. But it's not the main message of the film. The film is more about our personal choices. The bird has to choose between catastrophes of the different scales – little personal catastrophe and big universal one. Between the death of her nestling and the death of a lot of people. And that's why film is called In scale, as you noticed right, it juxtaposes mathematical scale of draft and moral scale. And I can say that this film is also about love – a motherly love. That can be really strong but also destructive.
How was the film done, what kind of animation did you use? And did you all do it by yourself or was there help from other departments?
The film was done as a part of the studying process and I did all the work myself - idea, drawing, animation, sound etc. There are other departments in the university but I didn't use their help, because I wanted to do the film by my own. I used computer drawn animation in Flash MX. The technique of the film was a draft, so I had to learn all the rules of it and to review a lot of working drawings.
How long did it take to finish the film?
Frankly speaking, it was too long, because it was my first real experience of animation and also I was working on other projects at the same time. It took me about two years to complete everything.
Tell us something about the reception of this film, especially on where in your country it has been shown. Are there many prominent short film festivals or short film screenings in theatres or on TV in Russia?
In scale has been screened on about 16 Russian festivals and got a lot of prizes. The most prominent from them are International Film Festival "Message to Man", International Film Festival "Festival of Festivals", International Forum "Zolotoy Vityaz", Open Russian Animation Festival Suzdal and others. The film was even shown several times on commercial screenings in cinematheatres in St. Petersburg and Moscow. But the short film market is not developed yet in Russia. Television is mostly not interested in broadcasting short films, so it is very difficult to sell your film in our country – not only for young filmmakers, but also for famous and honoured filmmakers.
What plans do you have for future films?
Now I'm working on my new film, kind of love story, which will be made in the technique of the reviving paintings. I have also some more ideas for the future projects, and one of them is a collaboration with European filmmakers and producers.