In the online format, Zoom hosted a master class by the creators of the feature film “Doctor Lisa” on the filming of a film on a social theme. Speakers – director Oksana Karas and producer Alexander Bondarev, deputy general director of KIT Film Studio, member of the Association of Film and Television Producers.
The film “Doctor Lisa”, one of the most popular audience films of the last year, shows one day in the life of the founder of the “Fair Help” foundation, philanthropist Elizaveta Glinka. The authors of the film will tell you how to make a film on a social theme, how to tell about the activities of an NGO in a feature film. As part of the meeting, aspects of creating a biographical film about a famous public figure will be revealed. Speakers will also answer questions from the audience.
The master class is held as part of the Good Story competition.
We publish the abstracts of the meeting.
Alexander Bondarev: “The director of the film Oksana Karas and I have been trying for a long time to find a form for the script. After all, Elizaveta Petrovna allegedly lived 10 lives in her short life, and it was difficult to fit all this into the script. One of my colleagues, Aleksey Ilyushkin, proposed an idea that inspired us all a lot and brought us out of the dead end. He got the idea to shoot a picture in the format of one day. As soon as he wrote the first draft, I invited Oksana Mikhailovna to work on the film. She responded immediately. Then we wrote this script together with her for almost a year. If we talk about technology, then cinema is born in the same way. At the forefront is always someone’s pain, passion, idea … In my case, it was a strong pain of loss and the inability to change anything. Liza Glinka was a close friend of mine. In order to overcome the pain, we started making this movie. ”
Oksana Karas: “I was not personally acquainted with Elizaveta Glinka. For the first time I heard about her during one film festival. My short film and a documentary took part there, which told about the heroine – our contemporary, who at the Paveletsky railway station feeds her, as she called, patients and is engaged in street medicine. A person who is interested in such problems devotes his whole life to these people and does his job absolutely sincerely – this is an event. I immediately remembered Elizaveta Petrovna. In the spring of 2018, Alexander Vladimirovich Bondarev called me with a proposal to shoot a picture about Lisa Glinka. He published a wonderful book that can be opened on any page and see genuine reportage footage from her life. The second part of the spread of this book is the diary entries of Lisa herself. She kept a live journal and every day managed to leave some kind of note about how the day went. I must say that this material remained as a real historical document after her departure. After reading the book, I was shocked by the scale of this man’s personality. What Elizaveta Petrovna did is the whole world. Alexander Vladimirovich literally passed through himself every letter, every scene, every person whom we took to our team. It was important for him that each person on the site was personally involved in this topic, and he would develop his own attitude towards Lisa. It doesn’t have to be panegyric, lily. We knew right away that we didn’t want to make a memorial film. Alexander Vladimirovich wanted to make a live movie and knew how to infect everyone with it. I confess that my complex (after all, I did not know Lisa at all) became my director’s trump card. This allowed me to take an objective position in relation to her. Of course, to the end it is impossible to see her objectively, because she is the person who pulls into her orbit. Even after her departure, she, like an escaped comet, continues to influence all of us. Indeed, amazing things began to happen to all the people who worked on the painting.
I had a special relationship with the picture, because your hero is not a fictional character, but a real person. Moreover, this is a person who was dear to everyone in his own way. We worked very sincerely and truly. It didn’t work out any other way. We needed some kind of key to talk about a person – our contemporary, whom many knew. Honestly, I have never had such an experience. All my documentaries have been shot in the portrait genre. In a fictional fiction film, it is very important to maintain a balance between the truth of life and the fictional truth. All this is not easy. A lot of effort was spent on the preparatory work on the script. When filming began, the movie began to breathe, artists appeared who brought their energy and attitude. Most of the energy was spent on creating a text that would convince Chulpan Khamatova. So it took us over a year to write this script.
First of all, we met with the fund’s volunteers. They told us a lot about Elizaveta Petrovna and helped in writing the script. Of course, the foundation is different without it. Elizabeth was the figure who kept a lot on herself. It was very important for us to immerse ourselves in the life of the foundation. When you start getting involved in everything, it becomes a part of your life as well. I began to understand and feel that Liza Glinka is changing people’s lives even after her departure. I have become much more likely to meet with homeless people. After all, she did not separate people, but helped everyone who turned to her for help. You begin to see this world, as if through her eyes and understand that this is the only way to live and this is our salvation. That is, it becomes something more than just a movie. If you want to make a movie on such topics, then you need to be a part of this process. Alexander Vladimirovich was already a participant in this process, he lived it every day, working as a volunteer in the fund. ”
Alexander Bondarev: “We did not arrange a casting, but immediately made an offer to Chulpan Khamatova. I must admit that the negotiations were lengthy. As soon as Chulpan read our script, I realized that she would not be in this film. But for us all the stakes were fixed on it. I believe that no other actor could have played like her, because Chulpan is very close to this topic. Together we managed to convince her and rewrite the script for her. ”
Oksana Karas: “The first time we met with Chulpan in the spring of 2018, it was important for us to get her consent, because actresses of this level have a schedule planned for years to come. We needed her to give us all her time (it should have been April 2019). In the end, we convinced her, although she was very risky. After all, there are always fears that the picture will not be successful, and we bear such creative risks. For her, as an actress, first of all, the intonation with which this story will be told on the screen was important. If we talk about how to shoot such stories, then the most important risks are associated precisely with the author’s intonation. The scale of Chulpan’s personality is such that she can play this role. She has self-irony in this sense. She asked us to have humor in some scenes and dialogues, because someone who faces human grief every day needs strength to move on. We were looking for this intonation in the text, and on the set, and in the actor’s existence. If you immediately list the events that take place in the film, the viewer can immediately turn away from the picture. All this will frighten him. The task of the authors of a film with such a theme is not to tell what it is in life, but to lure the viewer with various creative and artistic extensions. Here, dramatic scenes must be interspersed with humor so that the dialogues are not so difficult and give hope. Authors need to balance dark and light and not speculate on the topic.
We rewrote the script by 80 percent, leaving the most important thing there. We left the format of one day and the original event, which was well thought out by Alexey Ilyushkin (in the picture it is the theft of morphine). We rewrote almost everything else. Natalia Kudryashova helped us fill some dialogues with life, because by that time we had simply run out of strength. I confess that I was very inspired by the documentaries that were created during Lisa’s lifetime. We took some real characters from there and wrote them for specific actresses. ”
Alexander Bondarev: “This film is about a man who lives among us. He is the same as we are. The main idea of this film: helping people and being merciful is very simple, pleasant, and each of us can do it. After all, a huge number of people just need a conversation. Many people think that helping is a feat, but in fact it is so simple.
Elizaveta Petrovna had a lot of wards, whom she led herself. For example, for 6 hours, leaving urgent matters, she talked with a girl whose mother was dying in the hospice. In addition, Lisa had enormous organizational talent, and she could solve a problem within a minute. She did not see any obstacles if someone needed help.
I must admit that the magic of Elizaveta Petrovna is now spreading to our business. In my biography, Doctor Lisa is the most profitable project. For the first time, our film premiered on two main platforms at once: on “Kinopoisk” and “Premiere”. We directed most of the profits to solving the problems of the fund. With the money we received, we are also building a house for the first patients whom Lisa took away from the bombings. In general, she also influenced the financial success of the producer. ”
Oksana Karas: «If I had only five minutes of screen time, I would build my short film on how Lisa hugs other people. For me personally, this says a lot about her. The format of five minutes, of course, is very limiting, but at the same time, it speaks about the author himself.
In general, the most important quality of a director and screenwriter is to remove all unnecessary things. Of course, we were faced with the fact that our heroine lived several in one life at once. Even a TV series could be filmed. But here we were limited to a full meter, so we had to cut off the excess. I must admit that the one-day format helped us a lot. There are scenes in the film that could be left as complete stories – they are self-sufficient and develop according to the laws of drama.
There were also many scenes that had to be said goodbye at the script level. We drank a lot of blood from each other when we decided what to leave for us and what to throw in the basket. It is always pain and struggle, especially if you throw out what has been filmed.
For actors, meanings are very important. In five minutes, you can be reliable and accurate in meaning only if you manage to tell a story in these five minutes. Even if it’s just an observation film or an impression film, the actors still care who their character is, what his story is. It is important not so much to come up with a script as to explain to the actor what is in his background. If you make an acting story in a five-minute film, then you must by all means start from the character himself. You may not have time to reveal the story itself during this time, but have time to reveal the character, connect the viewer to him and make him empathize. But this requires a lot of skill from the author.
The secrets of creating a video about a social project are simple: you need to talk about a topic that excites you, connect humor and irony, and conduct an accurate casting in order to find your actor. This person should be your like-minded person who understands what he is playing.
We were inspired by documentaries, and we aimed to make our cinema pseudo-documentary. After all, 80 percent of the events actually took place. Personally, I was inspired by documentary authors and those works that were filmed during the life of Elizaveta Petrovna. Yes, our cinema is artistic, but by the way the camera works, the way the scenes are arranged, we are approaching the documentary aesthetics. ”
Alexander Bondarev: “After the film was released, the foundation got five very serious patrons, and the foundation received more than three thousand applications for volunteering. All the people who are now working in the fund are engaged in the most difficult part – feeding and treatment at the station. These are the people who came to the foundation after seeing the painting “Doctor Lisa”. Our foundation has about twelve programs, so here you can find a job and a task within your powers. ”