An Interview With Director

 Vitaly Sumin

by Lisa Pinckard

Published by


LP: Your Indie film Shades of Day is based on Dostoevsky's novel, White Nights. You have several other productions in the works with at least one other also being based on the works of Dostoevsky. He was obviously a writer by whom you feel greatly influenced. What about his writings touched you in such a strong manner?

VS: I discovered Dostoevsky rather late in life and was amazed by the multi-leveled modern quality of his prophetic writings. First of all, I found myself touched by the nature of suffering of some of his major heroes. In one way or another they are all poor, "Insulted and Injured" suffering from humiliation in the variety of its forms, while searching for love, money and friends (and most of them for a "meaning of life," too) in this strange world where 'the battle between God and Devil in every human soul never ends.' This struggle and its transformation to the everlasting duality of the multiple forms of human existence may serve as a basis for the understanding of the polyphonic vision of the world proper to Dostoevsky. We're never dealing with a single voice, which represents the one and only truth/idea, but with the tragicomic dialogued multiplicity of the postmodern-like voices (they may belong to the same human soul) that perpetually contest each other. That's why among the other "voices" there's the special place for Swindler, Fool and Dummy/Idiot in Dostoevsky's world. These three figures/masks have deep roots in the history of Western culture touching the mere beginning of human social life. They brought to Western literature the important link with popular theater, carnival and circus. Fool, Dummy and to a certain extent Swindler have the special right to be strangers in this world: they do not accept any of the ideological or other statements claimed as honest, faithful or trustworthy by the different communities or individuals because they see the wrong side and hidden lie in every such statement.

The great novels of Dostoevsky are the stories of TRIAL signifying one of the highest levels in the evolution of the so-called "baroque novel," the term introduced by the genial researcher of literature, Michael Bakhtin ("Francois Rabelais and the Popular Culture of Laugh in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance"). Thus, Dostoevsky, according to Bakhtin, was related to the traditions developed in the European literature on four levels: 1) . Through the Gothic English novel of sensation (Ann Radcliffe, Horatio Walpole, M.G. Lewis); 2). The French sensational novels of social-adventure: roman-feuilleton ("newspaper serial") Eugene Sue; 3). the novels of trial by O. De Balzack; and, finally, 4). the German romantics (mainly E.T.A. Hoffman). In addition, Dostoevsky was in close relationship with the stories of the Saints and the Christian tradition with its specific treatment of Trial ("Love will save the world").

THRESHOLD (as an attribute of the Trial) and leading to it--stairwells, corridors, streets and squares usually represent in Dostoevsky's world the places associated with the moments of CRISIS/CATHARSIS characterizing the major changes in life/"mythical journey" of the heroes.

Here we're dealing not only with the basic elements of the mystery of dramatic structure (up and downs of a hero's life, death and resurrection, sudden enlightenment, new life), but also with the special time where the multiple voices become ONE. . . . The biographical time of a hero no longer exists--giving place to a mask of an eternal Myth playing a part in a show.

In his book, Heretical Experience, published in France, writer, philosopher and film director Pier Paolo Pasolini claims that after the second World War, audio-visual medium of cinema replaced literature in its "discovery of the world." From this point of view, Dostoevsky's novels represent a collection of the myths providing nowadays an invaluable material for an attempt of the fresh reading/discovery of the world.

That's why, like the Greek, Biblical, Shakespearean and other great universal myths, the discoveries of Dostoevsky's (whom I can call, if I may, one of the prophets of postmodernism because his tales predict the major cataclysms of our time) represent for me the invaluable eternal sources beyond the context of 19th Century Russia--and therefore particularly suitable for cinematographical adaptation.

LP: Are there other writers--past or present--who influence you as well?

VS: It may well be that every single book I've read has changed me in one way or another. There's a saying (based on a certain statistic) that most people experience the major portion of their "reading" by the age of eighteen (or something like that). I didn't like the classics in high school--because I was expected to read them by my "almighty" teachers. Instead, I preferred to escape to all the fairy tales and the popular adventure novels I could find (As far as the adventures are concerned, I can mention the traditional Jules Verne, R.L.Stevenson, S.H.R. Haggard, A.C. Doyle, Jack London, etc..) Taken from the context of this period, Hans Christian Andersen and Alexander Grin still remain my most beloved writers.

After graduating from high school, I started to work. There were a lot of books at home. Upon a recommendation of my father, I've turned to Jean-Christophe and other selected novels by Romain Rolland (don't know if I could read him now). Among the other things, Rolland taught me the understanding of classical music, mainly L.V. Beethoven ("Through Suffering to Happiness" from the European point of view, of course!). So, I was saved for a year or less. Then my grandmother died. That was my first meeting/experience with the reality of the Unknown. I was flabbergasted by the major injustice of this world. My conscious play with Death began and my childhood came to an end. Since then, Bach replaced Beethoven in my understanding (or rather non-understanding) of the mysterious infinity of existence (on all its levels). I became mature enough for the discovery of great classical literature.

It appears that a writer is a prisoner (or rather a slave) of a language that sets up the rules. Every national language is a sum of the certain cultural traditions of a certain group collective of people living together in the same geographical and historical conditions for a long time (it is about to change during our time, but I'm referring here to the history of the classical literature before World War II). It appears also that, while guided by a language, a serious researcher/writer (or should I say an artist, in general?) finds herself/himself on the mythical way of Faust, and sooner or later is obliged to make a deal with the Devil. There's no escape (according to Death at least!). So one pays for the discovery of the laws of the Universe with her/his body and soul. These discoveries lie beyond the principle of "Good" and "Bad" and have nothing to do with morality. Are most of the geniuses of the classical literature the sorcerers putting the needles into wax figures of their enemies (and--to a lesser degree--even friends)? Interesting that the latest scientific brains' discoveries/measurements (according to the early November's 2002 issue of Newsweek) confirm Freud's visions in this regard. Nevertheless, some rare, sunny souls (I can mention, for example i.e., Milan Kundera at the time of Unbearable Lightness of Being--as far as my experience is concerned--the other people certainly know about the existence of other angels) manage to win/escape the carnival battle staged between the combined army of all Humans and the Devil. These escaped angels succeed to heal us (the audience) while the billions of our other never-ending battles continue.

There are many great books in my library that I've never read. Their mere presence make me feel guilty (because I still haven't read them) and good (because I may read them one day). I dream to be able to have enough time to complete the reading of at least a part of these books before my play with Death will come to an end.

LP: At one time, you made oceanic documentaries. What made you decide to become a writer and director of films based on classics, or was this endeavor something that was always in the back of your mind?

VS: It was always on my mind. Part of it was conscious. I knew that "something was wrong with this world" and was eager to find out "why" . . . and should become an "artist"--either a writer and/or a film director (I didn't see any contradiction between the two then). All I needed was a first-hand experience in life that would provide me with "material" necessary for constructing the stories. At the same time, my previous "training" as a reader pushed me toward the world of unknown--faraway seas and countries. The Universe was full of magical appearances and there was no frontier between art and science in my understanding. That brought me to a "reasonable" choice of profession: I could become an oceanographer, combining the adventures in the mysterious seas with the sciences discovering the laws of the Universe, meeting "true friends" and "true love," thereby getting "the material." I wasn't aware then that there's no difference between a walk in a neighborhood and a spectacular expedition to the tropical islands; each of these journeys presents for a serious writer an equally exciting adventure signifying an initial starting point in a dangerous pilgrimage to the inner depths of the human soul.

"I really don't know what would be after my death, but if I would die tomorrow morning and somebody in Hell would ask me what's the matter with life, I wouldn't know what to tell about either life or death. That's why I, as an oceanographic scientist, would try to tell about my specialty at least" (Voice Over); corresponding visual track: Open stormy sea on the screen--cut to the sea on the cover of the book (equal height of the horizon's line in the frame)--Rockwell Kent's illustration to Moby Dick's heavy volume occupying an honorable place among the other books in my library--(270 degrees panorama starting from the books). The camera explores the room and stops on yours truly/director lying on a sofa, holding a skull ("To be or not to Be!"). Suddenly in the same frame appears the director's girlfriend of the time--the beautiful Regina. She's holding a big prop gun and mortally shoots the director ("When God began to create the Heaven and the Earth the Earth was . . . " etc.--Voice Over). That's how I started a documentary-fiction From Womb To Tomb (a last in the series of my oceanic documentaries). In my search for a Common Language for the habitants of the planet Earth I tried to show the deep interrelations and back and force transformations between the different stages of the evolution of matter--non-organic, organic and finally social-human." Some of the quotes from the film in this regard: 1) "The silent language of human behavior and gestures creates the words and sentences of a language that everybody in the world understand . . . I mean the language of, let's say the language of love . . . " Visually this Voice Over is correlated with the combination of images where the couples make love (taken from the different art exhibits of the different world cultures of the different historic times dissolved into each other and combined with the different porno magazine's pictures plus Stravisnky's "The Right of Spring" on the soundtrack). 2) The Voice Over asks: "But what's hidden behind the words?!" In response, beautiful, naked Regina standing on the bow of an oceanographical research vessel moving in the open sea cuts her hand and the camera fixes on the appearing blood. A Voice Over comments: "The salts of human blood and the sea salts have the same consistency. We were all born in the Ocean. There's the same blood of the sea for every one of us . . . " Later, there's a demonstration of some oceanographic procedures on board the ship (Voice Over: "Much the same as taking the blood samples they are taking these water samples directly from the sea. . . "); consequently, the film leads us to a certain conclusion: "These samples provide the data needed for the construction of oceanographical charts which are the characteristic pictures of the physical, chemical and biological conditions of the world ocean. The charts serve the humans in their struggles with nature and with themselves" (war images, sounds of different shootings, pictures of the world leaders, carnival masks). Annihilation of earth; only sea remains in the frame . . . Bach's and Luciano Berio music.

I've taken the liberty of citing some parts of From Womb To Tomb in order to explain my interest in classical literature. There's no difference between scientific research and the exploration of the Universe by a classical writer. There are certain fluctuations of the same elements of the periodic table everywhere in space. It's very interesting that whatever we have in our minds (including the fairy tale's mythical prophecies) can become a reality--sooner or later. I believe that in the future we would find a coefficient that may permit to treat all the manifestations of the Universe as a whole body again (as some researchers of the past did) and the physical resurrection of a human being in one form or another would become possible. Considering that humanity would not destroy itself in the next couple of hundred years, our most important dreams could be realized (as it is already happening with some of these dreams--we're finally able to fly into the sky and into space, for example, etc.). Therefore, the works of classical literature represent for me the collection of the certain laws of the Universe; some of them are particularly suitable for adaptations according to the dramatic requirements of the medium of cinema.

LP: Is there one particular process (i.e. writing, directing, producing) that you prefer to another? Preference aside, is there one that you find easier overall?

VS: Let's make an abstract analogy between the process of creation by a writer (as a single architect of a literary work) and between construction of a film by an "author." While a ready-for-publication book represents a finished "product" in literature, a completed feature film screenplay (which is supposed to be arranged according to certain technical rules and regulations) signifies only the first step in the physical composition of a motion picture. The other two steps are directing and producing (including the editing and other post elements). The industry of mass production imposing its laws on all aspects of our life (creating every moment millions of the fresh rhinoceros) succeeded a long time ago to differentiate between these levels of creation. A writer is supposed to do his/her best while writing the scripts, a director directs, a producer produces, an editor edits, etc.--all of these principles of an assembly line imposed for the benefit of a product delivered on time to the billion-dollar market. Is such an approach good or bad for a "real creator"? I don't believe that there's a single, simple answer to this question--considering the amount of money involved and the industrial nature of popular cinema as a collective venture.

Here we have to take into consideration the fact that a book or a scriptwriter can--technically speaking--change or rearrange the written material for an unlimited number of times without jeopardizing a film budget. On the contrary, the non-scheduled fluctuations in the plans of a feature film production or post production and/or poor performance of a film in the box office may ruin the investors.

Nevertheless, it appears that in a deeper sense there's no difference between the "culture of book" and "the culture of film." Before the birth of industrial cinema and TV, there were the small groups of readers interested in the serious fiction literature and humanities. They belonged to the artistic and academic circles, upper classes of the aristocracy, industrialists, money holders, and, in part, to the middle class. These people were satisfied by the circulation of up to a couple of thousands(!) of copies (in each language) of the titles we today call Classics. Other book-lovers from all levels of a social hierarchy were not interested in serious literature even then. Most of the people of the Western world in the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century read mainly genre books: entertaining stories, thrillers, melodramas, adventure, pornography, violence (almost TV Guide's classification). Although, for the last hundred years, as the number of the worldwide consumers of popular entertainment and serious literature skyrocketed (in each category) to unbelievable levels, the balance between these two groups (of course, they may be partially interrelated) may remain the same.

I came to cinema with the naive expectations to express myself while discovering the hidden appearances and laws of the world, and talk to people/audiences about it and not to make money in the first place. Although on the story level, my films could be enjoyed by the wide diapason of the worldwide audience, I believe that there are enough sophisticated readers of cinema that would be delighted and satisfied to recognize at the same time the inner levels of my works (the projections of my films for the different audiences show just that).

Writing scripts is probably the easiest step I'm also enjoying the most. The other complimentary and rudimentary steps of the chain necessary for bringing one's unique vision into fruition are directing, producing, post-producing, marketing, sales, distribution, exhibition. The more of these steps an artist controls, the more rewarding becomes the burden of such control. My personal experience brought me to the stage of sales/marketing. There are several sophisticated well-educated buyers in the world market that really respect the art of independent cinema. The others buy "by weight": they may deal with art films or C action movies--anything goes! Should these people make more money in selling cars or Viagra, for example, they would switch their activities (and some of them do !) to the most rewarding products. Whenever there's a possibility to make good money by selling and/or advertising products and ideas, the audiovisual media--including cinema--offers unlimited possibilities. Consequently, there are different mafias that control the world market (on all its levels). This is a complicated, difficult, dangerous, merciless game and one must be aware of the reality of its rules before engaging in an adventure of an "artistic" film production.

LP: In the last few years, Indie films have come into the limelight as big name stars strive to get back to good, well-written stories. Obviously an actor's big name would help the movie's exposure, but what if some unknown actor with just a small amount of talent auditioned for the same part? Would you go for exposure over that little bit of added talent?

VS: Some of the "names" can also belong to great talented actors who are open to experimentation! For example, the Academy award-winner Cliff Robertson (who recently appeared in Spider-Man) has read two of my scripts-- "Love Game" and "Idiot, LA"--and loved them very much. Cliff enthusiastically agreed to perform the major parts in these pictures (both of these parts are rather unusual and controversial). Cliff told me that he's grateful for the opportunity to gain a new experience while working on my projects. All things considered, I would fight for whomever I feel is the best for a role.

LP: How much do film festivals help, and do you find one country more responsive than another?

VS: Each festival tries to survive and gain a bigger share of the growing festival market by differentiating and diversifying itself and creating often complicated rules and regulations; for example, some major festivals will not screen your film if it has already participated in another major festival, etc., etc. The other less important festivals may align with each other, etc.. There are the science fiction festivals, gay and lesbian festivals, human rights festivals, ecological festivals, underground festivals, scuba diving festivals, "cinema and literature" festivals, New York festivals . . . and you name it! In Europe and the Third World countries, the festivals usually got the major part of their budget from the governments or other prevailing political/social bodies--therefore openly serving certain national/propaganda/public relations goals . But in addition to the politics and the sponsors' money involved, each festival--like any other collective venture--represents in one degree or another a complicated hierarchy of the conflicts of interests and personal egos (both publicly and behind the scenes). That's why some films may be classified as "festivals films" (as told to me in Cannes by one European buyer), i.e. "suitable for the Festivals," and some films are not--regardless of the "artistic values" of any given film. Usually it's difficult for an Indie film to be noticed in an overcrowded market if there's not enough money in the budget to hire top P.R. people. On the contrary, wisely invested money in a carefully orchestrated and well-maintained public relation campaign, along with the personal relationship in the major festival circles maintained run by your well-paid P.R. and/or Prod Rep (Producer Representative), may push a mediocre film to the highest skies of the world festivals’ hierarchy, including the prizes, honors and eventually a "nice" contract with a distributor. There are some lucky exceptions like films such as Pi or Blair Witch Project that succeeded to be noticed by the "all-mighty of the business" through gorilla marketing and Web site campaigns. Consequently, these two phenomena of a marketing ploy were backed by millions and millions of dollars of advertising campaign. The encouraged "players" dealing with hundreds of other films tried to emulate their formula and failed miserably. Also, there are a number of films that got the highest prices at the major Festivals, including Cannes and Sundance, that still didn't succeed to find a U.S. distributor. In short, the Festivals may certainly help if you have a good film, are lucky, and know how to play the game.

LP: With regards to the last question, on your site, Shades of Day (, you state that "We are developing and producing quality films based on original stories and the masterpieces of the world literature dealing with a variety of contemporary issues often neglected by the mainstream cinema (both by the studios and the 'independents'). Do you feel independents have become too mainstream?

VS: It all depends on the historical time, the filmmaker's personal goals, beliefs and conscience. Usually the traditional laws of the Universe prevail. The independent companies like Miramax or New Line that helped to revolutionize the traditional cinema capitalizing on the niche market in the U.S. were either bought by big entertainment conglomerates or ceased to exist. At the same time, independent directors like Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies and Videotape), Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi), Kevin Smith (Clerks), and Darren Aronofsky (Pi) signed with the studios. It's much more difficult now than it used to be in the '60s or even the '90s to make a true independent film and be noticed--like it used to be in the '60s or the '90s, etc. due to the overcrowded market and limited ways provided by theatrical distribution (controlled by entertainment mafia). On the other hand: 1). It has never been so easy to make a film because of the unprecedented developments in digital technology; and 2). the variety of new ways of independent distribution has emerged (the possibilities offered by the Internet, for example). Consequently, if a filmmaker's major goal is to craft a true, honest work, so he or she could feel good and proud while bringing to the world a fresh, honest and sincere vision, now (as always . . . ) is the time!

We are about to set up a special unit at VM Productions that will produce personal stories under the logo "Everybody is a Star!" Everybody has a unique story to tell and these stories are no less fascinating than the best commercial Hollywood dreams. From the early time of human existence, people tried to fight eternity by leaving their signatures in the forms of pictures in caves, erecting Hollywood-size pyramids, temples and statues. Later, the kings and the almighty of this world invited to their courts the best painters and sculptors so these artists could immortalize the sponsors and their families and their families could be immortalized. In the beginning of our age, Van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall and other great painters discovered " the kings" in simple peoples. This tradition of ordering portraits has not died in the 21st Century. The family albums represent fascinating collections of very special documents. Nevertheless, most of the people are willing to pay for the tickets that would allow them to become for a limited time a HERO of a fairy tale, identifying themselves with Spider-Man, Snow White, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Julia Roberts, the Lion King, etc.. It happens because we all have the same hidden qualities of these eternal winners. Everyone is born as a potential hero. We would like to help people discover the hidden treasures of their souls--long-time forgotten and temporarily killed by the routine of everyday life.

For a modest fee, a customer could propose us to produce a story of their life. Upon our approval of the order and multifaceted research, we would try to find the unique artistic quality of every single life and working together with the customer to create a distinctive portrait and family story. We hope to initiate a new genre--an independent alternative to the mainstream cinema.

LP: What about a novel--be it Dostoevsky or another writer--that makes you want to translate it into film? Are screen adaptations difficult to write?

VS: Personally I've never been particularly interested in the exact recreation of stories by classical authors (including the appropriate attributes of the corresponding historical time involved). With all my respect and admiration for the great writers, I believe that as human beings we're all equal--simply some of us serving as mediums for "the voices" that help to discover the laws of the Universe. As a next step, a potential writer must have enough forces and self-discipline to prevail and translate the "call of voices" to the medium of literature. Consequently, each classical fiction work represents for me, technically speaking, a Patent/Myth serving as base/invitation for the explorations/discoveries of our own age. If I'm touched and inspired by a classical story, usually the discoveries I make during the writing of its contemporary version gives me enough enthusiasm to complete the draft. I would say that an adaptation would be easier to write, since a basic story structure and the major characters already exist.

LP: Have you ever considered veering off screenwriting to write a book for publication, and if so, what genre would it fall under?

VS: The amount of time and energy one spends for making a film as a director/producer is enormous. The routine of the cinema production process may be compared with drug-taking. A production (a "party") usually rewards a filmmaker by providing the great, special moments of joy due to the collective relationships with the collaborators. It also satisfies his/her personal ego as a director of the entire operation. Nevertheless a part of your life is lost. A writer could use this time to write a couple of books, which sooner or later may be published. On the contrary, a finished script representing only a first step in the production process may never become a film. A good screenplay (non-produced and produced as well) may be published and be read by a small group of professionals, fans and students of film. I would say that a screenplay might be compared to a technical manual--a skeleton of a future film creation. A skillful technician can easily make a good or bad feature film based on a bad or good screenplay (we know that a good screenplay may result in a bad film and vice versa). She or he would enjoy the production process--by putting the pieces of the visual material together, and consequently make a profit by selling the package of the similar "creations" to the world video/TV market hungry for a "genre" product.

On the contrary, a creator of a literary fiction acts on her/his own as "producer/director" enjoying (for free!) the unlimited liberty and collaboration of the best imaginary crews, stars and other actors, thinkers and philosophers of all times, gods and the Almighty Creator itself! The result would be a finished "product". Of course, a writer still would need an "exhibitor": a publisher. But her/his "film" is already completed . He/she may begin the pre-production of the next one.

Since my basic goal in cinema matches my goal in literature--sooner or later I intend to devote myself to literature. I hope cinema hasn't made me entirely its slave, destroying my freedom of independent thinking as well as the other qualities required by the medium of literature. Until this time I would try to resist the "collaboration" with the "Devil" (or whatever other name one can find for conscious capitulation). To begin with, I'll plan to re-write most of my scripts as novels.

LP: VM Production Company has several new projects in development. Do you work on more than one project at a time, or several at once?

VS: Sometimes it's easier to get the funding for a package of the projects than for a single film. The reason is obvious: should one film fail, the others could succeed. VM Productions produces under the sponsorship of New Playwrights Foundation, a 32-year-old, non-profit organization focusing on the advancement of local writers, film and video artists. This sponsorship allows us to solicit the tax-deductible donations of money, goods and services while remaining a for-profit company. Consequently, we are capable to make films 6-7 times cheaper and sell for a market price. Since at this time we have only one film director in place (yours truly), we cannot produce several pictures at the same time (although some elements of the post-production--depending on the available funds or contributions--may be combined).

LP: When writing, do others on your staff have input to the general storyline, or do you complete the work before allowing outside viewing.

VS: A screenplay is a movie plan. It is expected to be adjusted and/or changed depending on the cast, available locations, props, money involved and a variety of other unpredictable situations. Habitually, I complete the first draft on my own. Next, I present it for a reading to a couple of friends and co-workers. Usually I'm very open to suggestions. However, unless a co-writer is involved, the basic story elements may remain the same until the period of pre-production. During rehearsals I listen carefully to the advice of the actors. By this stage, they may know and feel their parts much better than me. Consequently, should I become convinced that an actor/actress has a point while asking me to reconsider certain lines or even the scenes, I would adjust the script accordingly. Experience shows that such an approach could only benefit the movie. My work with an editor--especially the one, whom I trust--can also result in changes of the film on all possible levels.

A finished film usually presents me with the same surprise. It appears that the basic inner impulses that have pushed me (consciously and unconsciously) to write a script and consequently create a film have found their visual equivalent. The miracle is evident.

LP: If a writer--new or established--were interested in getting into writing scripts for Indie films, or any other type of screen work, what would be your advice for them?

VS: First of all, I would suggest a serious writer to remain a writer. Cinema is a drug. Once you're in (or trying to get in) it is very difficult to get out. Even an attempt to become a scriptwriter may ruin the writer in you. Therefore I would propose to carefully evaluate the reasons of such an interest. Is it because of: A)a desire to make more money?; B) benefits of the glamour that the media have succeeded to lavishly create around the Hollywood Olympus and its stars?; or because, C) you feel that you have something important to say and the medium of recorded entertainment appears to be the most appropriate for your personality? (This questionnaire may continue interminably. . . . Please do it for yourself.) If you're still anxious to try--whatever it takes--go ahead! One learns everything through personal experience (like I did). If you have solid connections in the industry--then you may certainly skip the rest of this text.

To begin, a literary writer must abandon the freedom he or she potentially enjoys as a sole creator of an artistic work and be ready to become a technician. If OK--then such a person must become familiar not only with the basic elements of the dramatic structure and other laws of scriptwriting, but also with all the stages of movie production. Cinema is a profession and a scriptwriter must know the technicalities of its rules. The best way to start would be to enroll in the cinema production courses at a local college or one of the short-term film schools advertised in the media or on the Web and gain a first-hand experience (I would suggest a prospective filmmaker to visit our site as well: (click here!) and decide if they could afford our "classes"). Secondly, they must relocate to Hollywood Village. Although the Internet may help, what counts in the small world is not necessarily the quality of your writing but rather its "bankability" plus (as, of course, everywhere else !) "who you know." Third, they must write some sample scripts to get a feel for the nature of scriptwriting and have their samples available for marketing. Then they can start to "fish" for an agent, a manager, a lawyer, etc.. By this time, they would certainly know what to do next. If they have a multi-million dollar bank account and are crazy about cinema, or personally know such a person and either is willing to put some money into the high-risk investment of creation of dreams--they may become a writer-producer or writer-producer-director. "The possibilities are enormous"--although nobody can guarantee the results!

Copyright 2022 by Lisa Pinckard & VM Productions

About Vitaly Sumin 

Interview with Vitaly Sumin - April, 2017

From St.Petersburg, Russia to Los Angeles, California – via Paris, France 

The Ten Questions asked of director Vitaly Sumin during the making of Notes from The New World

Vitaly Sumin: Life, Dreams, and Perspective

Vitaly Sumin & The Cinematic Love Letter

Notes from the New World – Rough Cut’s Screenin


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