Before coming to screen and talk about their first short-feature film, the creators of the spectacular “Magic First” found time to share their thoughts and experiences of creating a story about the magic world.
How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
It would be nice to answer this way: one early morning we woke up and realised that this story must exist. But it won’t be true. We started producing videos a long time ago with a group of friends and filmmakers students. We were so-called “the multifandom fans”, and we even had been producing multifandom YouTube-podcast. And every single one of us was a Harry Potter fan. When the time came to make a graduation film for our director Ekaterina Krasner and cinematographer Sergei Fedorov (they were graduating from Russian Cinematography University), we decided to bring to life our childhood dream: shoot a story that will take place in Russian magical world.
Your work is inspired by Harry Potter. What does Harry Potter mean to you?
Harry Potter is our childhood. We grew up with this story about magic, love and the importance of friendship and forgiveness. It is important for creators to believe in fairytales and we are lucky that we had Rowling’s world that became a part of our lives. And that’s the main reason why we made this film – an irresistible desire to talk about important things in a fairytale wrap.
This story is made by and for Harry Potter fans, but it is much more. Could you shortly present the arch theme of the film?
In contemporary Russia, there exists a hidden world – a world of magic and enchantment. Magicians have to hide from the nonmag society surrounding them, a society they are disdainful of, some even hostile towards. The Master of the Guard of the Supreme Council of Magic and Enchantment, Bakhrushin, loses his magic abilities and must not only avoid revealing this but also prevent the war brewing between the magicians and the nonmagi (people who don’t have magic powers).
What would you like for people to “take from” the film after watching it?
We hope that everyone can find something personal in our film. Some people will feel the tenderness of the love story, other will see something consonant with his/her own thoughts about modern society.
What were the biggest challenges while creating the film?
The most difficult part was overcoming your fear of making this big project. We had at least 30 people on set every day, and 10 more working as a back-office. There were big names in our cast (like actor Michael Gor, who starred in Spielberg’s “The Bridge of Spies”), huge set decorations, lots of equipment and a team of CG-supervisors working really hard. Everyone worked for the idea (our film is non-commercial and non-profit) and it was scary to fail this amazing team.
What are the challenges that you, young creators, face while starting to step foot into the film industry?
Big bosses in TV and film industry don’t always trust young filmmakers and we always have to jump over our heads to prove them that we are worth their money and trust. This is a fierce business, you know.
How did the audience react to the film?
Good! It was so nice to see people not only responding well to our little film, but to see it becoming something bigger, provoking debates among some aspects in the film, making people to ask questions at the panels and screenings, and looking forward to the sequel, TV-series or a feature film.
People did pretty good job making “Magic First” some kind of a little fan-made event around the Internet, and we are extremely grateful for that – because, first of all, it is something created for fans by fans, with great love.
You have shown this film in San Diego Comic-Con, what was it like?
Absolutely fantastic! We’ve never thought that so many people will come and see unknown Russian film with subtitles – yet, the hall was one-third full, and the questions after the screening were pretty interesting. Even the moderators told us they weren’t going to watch it because of the subtitles, but then got carried away and really enjoyed it. It was extremely important for us to get a good response at the Comic-Con in the US – a place, where people have seen tons of fan-made stuff.
Where have you shown this film elsewhere? Have you noticed any differences between different countries?
We’ve shown our short film at different fanfests in Russia and had some public screenings in other countries. In each place, we could feel the national character. The film’s main topic is really controversial – lack of tolerance in the society, rejection of “others”. In Minsk (Belarus) we had questions about risks of disagreement with the authorities, in Tel-Aviv (Israel) audience compared “Magic First” with Arab–Israeli conflict. At SDCC everyone was caught by the topic of manipulative leaders.
What are the other projects you are currently working with?
We are currently working on several projects: a couple of TV-series and feature film. We really hope that everything will happen!
Have you ever wonder what would J. K. Rowling think about this film?
Sure, we did. Pretty much as a joke, imagining what her reaction would be like (“Darling, why do they hold the wands in such weird way? I don’t get it”), but, you know, going to San Diego Comic-Con was at first a joke too…
What are your future plans?
We don’t want to leave the world we created behind. There are many things we are working on right now, we are looking forward to surprising our fans.
More information about the project: http://magicinrussia.com/