Interview With A Highly Talented VFX Director ‘Slavik IA’
We are sharing here our recent interview with Los Angeles-based director Slavik IA. He is expert particularly in the field VFX direction.
Pro Media Mag : First of all tell us about the start of your professional career?
Slavik IA : My first job out of school was animating on a film called “Flags of our Fathers” by Clint Eastwood. I got extremely lucky to land such a high profile first job only two months after I graduated. Bruce Gionet, who was one of my professors at William Paterson University in New Jersey and to whom I am very grateful, went out of his way to get my name to the right people. Stars lined up and lightning struck at the right place at the right time. I couldn’t believe when Digital Domain offered me a job. Just a month ago there was a no name company in New Jersey declining me and now one of the top 5 VFX companies in the world was hiring me. It’s crazy how that works out sometimes.
Pro Media Mag : What was the inspiration behind becoming a VFX Supervisor and Director?
Slavik IA : My inspiration to become a Director was the shallow nature of VFX driven movies. After working on Tron 2 and even having quite a bit of creative contribution to the film I realized my creative juices would not be satisfied working as an artist. I always had a really strong opinion on everyone else’s work, so after three years in the industry I decided to direct my first film “HIH”. After that project, I really started to dive into directing as an artistic skill. It might be one of the most difficult skills to learn as it requires so many different disciplines to be practiced on such a high level. As far as being a VFX Supervisor, I just got to know the process well enough after working on eleven feature length films and more than 75 commercials. Visual effects can go a long way if used correctly and can even transcend into Art. I actually wrote an indepth article about that topic recently for the VFX Magazine.
Pro Media Mag : You have been involved in many blockbuster films and commercials? Are you satisfied with how the things are going in your professional life?
Slavik IA : No, I am one of those people that is never satisfied and always look towards the next step. Whether it is a personal project or a business venture, if I don’t feel creatively challenged, I become bored. It is a feeling I can’t stand! I am addicted to creating, you could say. Satisfaction is for sex.
Pro Media Mag : What has been one of your favorite projects to work on and why??
Slavik IA : The most fun I’ve had on a project is actually my latest conceptual film that I did called “Waves”. This project was shot on an Iphone and was done with a small crew. It was so refreshing to be able to move around so effortlessly. We mostly shot in natural lighting and being able to move around with the camera(Iphone) and be so liquid while capturing magical moments was an incredible experience.
Pro Media Mag : Our readers would like to know more about ‘Orange Wolf Content’?
Slavik IA : Orange Wolf Content is a brand new company that my close friend and business partner Jack Kasprzak and I have started together. We both have been developing content and finally we decided to combine all of our ideas under one umbrella. Even though we have different tastes in style, we are on the same page no matter what we take on. We have episodic TV shows which we will start pitching in the next month as well as three feature film screenplays, interactive learning apps for kids and commercial campaign ideas for new companies. We are launching next month and to put it mildly, we are very excited!
ShowbizWatch :If you had a choice of what type of project or collaboration you would like to work on, what would it be and why?
Slavik IA : I think it would have to be Nine Inch Nails. I am a huge fan of Trent Reznor and I am also a huge fan of Mark Romanek’s visual contribution to the band’s videos. I guess I would be interested to see how my work and ideas would hold up to such a high caliber of Artistry. How does one top the music video for “Closer”?
Pro Media Mag : You recently shot a conceptual music video film called ‘Waves’ using an iPhone. Tell us more about that.
Slavik IA : “Waves” is my latest project which I decided to shoot on an Iphone instead of a Red or Alexa. Each camera has its own specific quality and tone that it brings and I really wanted to capture the intimate video feel which Iphone provides, but in a cinematic way utilizing anamorphic adapter and lenses. The film, which you can see on my website www.slavmonster.com, treads the line between narrative and music video. It is my first attempt at a love story actually, a subject that I feel gets such a monotone treatment in our culture that I really appreciate when I see works that explore love in color. That was my approach and inspiration for this film, which was done for my friends who just got married. They star as themselves and while we reenact the story of how they met, it was shown through my love lens. I achieved a rather dated and nostalgic feel for them, which I know will really strike a tone as the film ages. Even though they loved the final product already, I have a feeling the film will get better and better with time.
Pro Media Mag : What do you feel is one of the biggest achievements of your career so far?
Slavik IA : I think it was the completion of the three and a half year music film called “Mind Choke Hold” for a Los Angeles band Generation Maze. Almost every day for that period of time, from 8 to sometimes 14 hours a day I was dealing with completing the visuals for the film, since it was shot completely on greenscreen. While I had a small team of artists to help with some specific elements, I was responsible for the bulk of the work and it was just insane. I literally had no life and while there was always progress, I couldn’t picture the light at the end of the tunnel for a very long time. The project completely exhausted me from the point of view of a human being and made me a bit like a robot that just keeps on going until the task is complete. As I finished the project it all seemed too surreal, I actually had to get used to the feeling of having nothing to do.
Pro Media Mag : Are you working on any other new projects?
Slavik IA : At the moment I am heavily involved in Orange Wolf Content’s Content development. The two properties Jack and I are finishing up to pitch are “Daily Mobster”, which is a very dark, gritty, but with a good deal of dry humor Episodic TV show about feuding mobsters. What makes the show different from other Mobster shows are not only the characters, but also the idea that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. This actually allows for a great deal of rawness of gangster culture to appear behind the dry humor. We ride a fine line of realism with a bit of magic and a touch of supernatural. If you would like to check out the mugshots of the characters in the universe, just go to www.dailymobster.com. The other is “Hello Doktor”, which is a show about a slightly neurotic, but lovable tiny chameleon scientist that tries to make a name for himself in a fictional city of Palmwood Hills, of course a parody on our beloved city of Los Angeles.
Pro Media Mag : What would be your best piece of advice to aspiring VFX artists?
Slavik IA : Surround yourself by driven and passionate people. And if you can’t find any, be one yourself.