Slavik IA Interview is exclusively taken on this Animation and Visual Effects blog. Get inspired by his multi talented artistic and technical skills.
I am a Live Action Film, Music Video and Commercial Director. I am originally from the former USSR and now live in my favorite city, Los Angeles. I saw the original Terminator film at the age of 8, it was the fourth American movie that I ever saw in my life. I wouldn’t know until two decades later that the seed was sewn.
I’ve been involved in many blockbuster films including Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, TR2N, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Flags of Our Fathers, as well as more than 70 commercials as an Animator,ja Previs Consultant and VFX Supervisor. While that is my background, I enjoy directing and writing and concept development a lot more. I took my decade-long VFX experience and used it to create visually rich imagery, layered in complex and deep ideas in my work.
I hope you take a look at my Directorial work at www.slavmonster.com.
There you can see “Mind Choke Hold,” a surrealistic music film for a band called “Generation Maze,” which took me more than three years to complete.
You can also see M Revolution, a Commercial Campaign that follows the story of a mannequin that is alive but unable to move, and also a teaser for “Synthetic_World,” a Dark Pop Action Thriller about the future struggle of synthetic and organic human beings.
Enjoy the music video of Mind Choke Hold:
I am also a co-founder of Orange Wolf Content LLC, along with my partner Jack Kasprzak. Orange Wolf Pictures is the umbrella for original, top-notch content and ideas. I am also an Executive Producer at Blue Star Studios, alongside Susan B. Flannagan, an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer.
Excited? Have a look at the details of Slavik IA interview.
You are the maestro with multiple hats. How do you manage all these?
As a director with a 10-year VFX background, the two hats (directing and VFX Supervisor) are very tough to wear at the same time. They require very different forms of thinking and to get the best of both worlds, I try to separate the two and give each one its own time. They are both very powerful tools to push the storytelling medium, but can’t get mixed together, at least not right away.
In fact I wrote a piece recently about the possibility of VFX as ART and I discuss the concepts when the two hats can and actually mix and the results that they bring. It’s an article about my direct experience with these hats.
How did you get an impulse to join the Media and Entertainment industry?
When I was younger I used to play a lot of videogames and I really enjoyed cinematic videogames like “Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain” and “Metal Gear Solid” for PSX. These games really inspired me at a very young age without me even knowing. Looking back, I saw how much the mood and the atmosphere those games captured translated into my own work.
After I graduated, a job offer came through from the top five VFX Companies in the world. I packed my bags and moved to Los Angeles in a matter of only four days. It was a decision that brought me to a city that I romanced about without knowing it for most of my life. Eventually I fell in love with the film medium and started to translate elements from videogames into my work. I feel that the two mediums do have an intercrossing point.
How did your VFX experience help the Director within you?
The negative aspect of my VFX experience helped me fuel my passion to tell my own ideas. It challenged me to do more and not settle for the status quo of working at a studio on projects I wasn’t passionate about. It gave me the fuel to try and make a difference in this world with my own work. It is the only thing that gives me the feeling while I am stuck in traffic on the 101 or 405 that I am a true part of this city.
The positive VFX experience helped me utilize a very powerful tool and bring my vision into a reality. I feel privileged that my vision is only bound by my imagination and not much else.
Tell us more about “Orange Wolf Pictures”.
Orange Wolf Pictures is my vision along with my co-creator and partner for an incredible original content creator company. We both come from a VFX background and share the somewhat unusual dislike for bad VFX blockbusters. At Orange Wolf Pictures our content has the same production quality of the big studios, but deals and explores more interesting and thought-provoking ideas. We try to give a lot of depth to characters and motifs. The visuals are always important to us, but we care a lot more what is beyond the visuals.
Our original content deals with taking interesting initial thoughts and developing them into rich and imaginative stories. We have a range of content from feature-length screenplays to episodic television series, comics and modern commercial campaigns.
The key words for us are “absolute quality,” and that is something we really stand by with each property. We are very excited about all of them even though they face the entertainment industry at completely different angles. Our goal for the viewer when they see the Orange Wolf Pictures logo is to know that they have something unique, special, and life changing coming their way.
Being a director; how do you pre visualize about the overall shooting in terms of script, camera angles, elements to incorporate, post production details and more?
I try to dive into the world, the characters and the story and themes; almost in the same way an actor becomes the character, I become an observer of the world. I really try to make sure I know, understand and feel what is happening, what the story is really about. Not just on the surface, but deeper and to look for what is far down beneath the surface. It is almost like being a philosopher, but with the purpose of asking and trying to answer important questions in life in a visual form. Right now the question of “What is it to be human” fascinates me to a large degree. So many different ideas and stories can be built upon this theme; it is honestly a rich theme to explore.
Once I know what it is that I am trying to capture, I try to push and expand those ideas at every available opportunity. I can go on about the technical aspects of why a 50MM lens will be better than a 25MM, or the other way around for example, but for me every choice is driven by those observations. It is something you feel, not figure out with math.
Until now, which had been the most challenging project and how you overcame it?
The Mind Choke Hold music film has been by far my greatest test in tenacity and artistry. It has to be when you dedicate three years of your life to a vision and passion that only you and you alone can bring to life. There was a mixture of emotions and feelings as I worked on the project and I really tried to let those emotions live in my work. This project was a matter “of pressure and time” as Red, a character played by Morgan Freeman in the Shawshank Redemption put it. As long as my heart was beating, I was working towards the light at the end of the tunnel. Thankfully I didn’t need that “… big goddamn poster.” I don’t think they make them anymore.
Do share your tips for the artists who are pursuing Animation and VFX career.
Learn how to inhale and exhale criticism. Criticism is both your destroyer and your creator, it must be treated with caution, consideration and understanding.
What is your mantra for constant progress?
“What did you do today to make your dream a reality?”
Let us know about your current projects and future goals.
I only have one future goal right now and that is to become a world-class director.
How is Slavik out of his artistic life?
I really enjoy learning nowadays. I honestly should have gone to school at this age; I would have been a much better student. I enjoy interesting conversations with people that know more than me. I also love to argue and go on crazy adventures. I am a night owl and enjoy the city a lot more during this time. It feels like I have the whole place to myself.
I finally found a hobby that I think I can dedicate my time to…being a mixologist. There is something fascinating about a good cocktail. Oh, I also love Meshuggah, DnB and Street Fighter: 3rd Strike is still the best Street Fighter ever made.