Dragomir Sholev • Director
by Theodore Schwinke
16/11/2010 - Known for his acting roles in such films as Christmas Tree Upside Down, Dragomir Sholev makes his feature debut as a director with Shelter [trailer]. The director spoke to us after winning the Best Director award ex aequo at the Bratislava International Film Festival.
Cineuropa: How did the story originate?
Dragomir Sholev: Part of the story has an autobiographical core and part of it is fiction based on similar life experiences. When I was younger I admired a punk hero from our neighbourhood. I was ready to do anything just to be close to him, to listen what he was saying or follow his behaviour. So I know how far one young boy can go in imitating his idols.
You worked with Razvan Radulescu and Melissa de Raaf on the script. For me it was for the first time working with someone else on a script. I didn’t know what to expect. During our work together I learned a lot about writing for cinema. It was interesting for me to see how one idea can be developed differently and interpreted in two opposing ways. Many times we weren’t of the same opinion and then we had to stop and discuss. We were talking in English but writing in our native languages in order to keep the dialogue real and authentic.
Krum Rodriguez's cinematography has a restless, fluid movement. How did you develop the look of this film? We didn’t use a Steadicam as everyone thinks. It wasn’t possible because I planned to work with very long shots. And I wanted to hold thousands of rehearsals with the camera. We built a special system for moving the camera. I can’t explain it in just a few words but it made it possible to move the camera around the entire set.
We wanted to recreate reality, so we subordinated props, clothes, dialogue and light to that. For example, the action takes place in a typical block of flats left over from communism called panelka. Usually the flats are very small with low ceilings. The only light during the day is the daylight coming from the windows. So with Krum we decided to light the set only with the windows. It was risky for the exposure but gave realism to the picture.
How do you see the current state of Bulgarian film and filmmaking? Usually, I am an optimist, but now I see that Bulgaria is in a very difficult situation. The government has cut state financing in half, with only the excuse that there is no money. But for filmmakers there is no alternative. This is the only film fund in the country. When you don’t have national support, it is very difficult to search for co-production abroad.
I think there is new generation of filmmakers in Bulgaria who are making successful films but they face administrative bureaucracy and the absence of cultural priorities in the government. Let’s hope we will use this critical moment to create alternative financing possibilities like additional funds.
How are you releasing the film in Bulgaria? We are planning a theatrical release in March next year. I believe this film could fit very well in small independent theatres or art cinemas. Unfortunately, in Bulgaria we don’t have such a chain of theatres so we need to release the film in multiplexes in malls.