Denis Pavlov

1. Your film is entered in our Prague International Film Awards. What is
your film about?

The Motor Kings is about a woman stuck in an abusive marriage, living in a desolate town that tries to believe something good is coming to her life and slowly coming to realise that this belief is hollow.

2. What are your ambitions with your project?

My ambitions with this project is to show people a side of life that's sadly very common around the world but that is not often portrayed in our media. The protagonist is one of millions around the world that go through similar experiences and that have been forgotten by society. Hopefully our film is the reminder.

3. How was the shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?

The shooting went extremely well. What pleasantly surprised me was how quickly we managed to shoot the whole film considering we had a skeletal crew, but everybody worked very hard, believed in the project and as a result we got a short film we can all be proud of.

4. For what target group is your film?

The target audience for The Motor Kings is people with families that live comfortably, those over 30. This film would be like a dark reflection of their lives, a family stuck in squalor, violence and on the verge of falling apart. They would be the ones most impacted by our picture because they'd realise how fragile the things they take for granted really are.

5. Why should distributors buy your film?

Distributors should buy this film to support emerging filmmakers; everybody that has worked on this is just starting out hoping to get a foot in the industry. More importantly, I believe movies like ours are important because they shine a light on issues that are real but make people uncomfortable. With distribution, it could reach a wider audience and potentially get a conversation going about the difficulties of breaking out of cycles of domestic violence.

6. How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?

My film is characterized by minimalism and realism. From the beginning, we decided on it having almost a documentary-like approach; no music of any kind, realistic worn-out locations and shot on Super 16mm in 1.33:1 to provide it with a tangible grit and texture. I wanted the film to feel real, every element believable and I'm hoping to continue honing this style on subsequent projects.

7. Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?

Since I was a kid, I loved watching movies and always dreamed of being able to create my own. To me, film is an artform where you can create so much out of so little. It's immersive in a way no other mediums are. Watching something you've directed on a big screen is, to me, truly a feeling like no other.

8. Who is your greatest role model?

My role model is my fiancé, someone that's been by my side and supports me through high and low. Someone who's kind but also intelligent and fierce, never gives up and isn't afraid to speak her mind in any situation.

9. Which movies are your favorites? Why?

This answer changes on a weekly basis but at the moment it's probably Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola. Just an insane, monumental vision that only a genius, otherwordly talent can pull off. Watching that movie is like having a religious experience, you come out on the other side a new person.

10. Where do you look for inspiration for your films?

I never consciously look for inspiration for my films, I find it just comes to me during day-to-day living. I believe that if you're conscious to the world around you, you will instinctively pick up cues and ideas that you could implement in your films.

11. Which topics interest you the most?

I love stories of individuals living in harsh environments and either triumphing over or succumbing to them. I love the movies of Ken Loach and Werner Herzog, they're very simple but compelling. They have clearly defined environments and flawed protagonists trying to survive or get out of them. This to me is cinema at its purest.

12. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Probably completing this film!

13. What do you consider most important about filming?

The most important thing about filmmaking is capturing a truth, be it emotional, physical or spiritual. Every good film reveals something to us about its creator, our world, or (the best films do this) about ourselves. One cannot make a film just for the sake of making a film, there needs to be a clear purpose behind the action and when you have a clear purpose, that's when what you're doing transcends being a product and becomes a work of art.

14. Which film technique do you consider the best?

The great John Ford once said that the best thing you can film is a close-up of a person's face and I concur. A skilled director and actor can say volumes with a close-up and the result is electrifying.

15. How would you rate current filmmaking?

I think current filmmaking is in a very exciting time. The rise of streaming services has increased the demand for content, which means that aspiring filmmakers have more avenues to get their projects greenlit than they did before. The best current filmmakers take advantage of this and their films reflect our times. Living in a globalised society where digital connections have more value than human ones, the decline of steady work and the destruction of our environment.

16. What can make you angry in a movie?

Blatant commercialism. A movie that clearly has been made just to make money and then be forgotten about after its release. You can always tell when products like this have been made with no passion from anybody involved. This makes me angry; there are so many struggling filmmakers out there that could have used that budget to create something special. Sadly, this is just the nature of the industry and unlikely to ever change.

17. Who supports you in your film career?

I've been very lucky with having all my friends and family support all my film ambitions. Trying to make it in any creative industry isn't easy; having support can make or break a career.

18. What are the reactions of your surroundings to your film?

So far, everybody that's seen it say they've liked it, but they found it upsetting. The reaction we were hoping for! Ours is not a happy movie...

19. Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?

I've been to the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival as part of my studies, I got to see the world premieres of Isle of Dogs, Unsane and Transit amongst many others. It was an overwhelming experience being surrounded by so many other filmmakers and film enthusiasts as well as getting to see so many incredible films, a lot of which sadly disappear after their festival runs.

20. What are your next projects?

Currently I am working on a feature length screenplay about a middle-aged woman that has a spiritual crisis and embarks on an affair with a much younger, volatile man. Hopefully it's something that I'll be able to get off the ground.