Directed by: Evelina Barsegian
Principal Cast: Igor Sergeev, Karina Razumovskaya, Igor Grabuzov, Aleksandra Mamkaeva, Natalia Kruglova
Synopsis: Andrey is paid to rouse theater audiences from their seats, a job that turns him into a cynic until he meets a woman whose appreciation of the stage brings her to tears.
Where did the idea for Bravoman come from?
I think a lot before bedtime about how people pretend in the sincerity of their feelings and so on. Then I read that together with the birth of the theatre, there appeared a new profession in the world--the claqueur (I used the word "bravoman" for the film, but in fact it is claqueur). The claqueurs created artificial successes for performances. They shouted "bravo!" and threw flowers on stage and so on. And for this they were paid by the theater, or by an actor. We know from the newspapers that in Italy there were very strong claqueurs who even publicly swooned with "delight." The claqueurs did their best. There were claqueurs in the Soviet Union, but they shouted "bravo" not for money, but for free tickets to their favorite performances. Generally, the theme of this film is that the actors are not on the stage. They are in the audience.
Where do Bravomen get their training from?
The Bravomen are players for life. They do not need to learn how to pretend to show their feelings. They do it every day in their daily lives. The main criteria for a good Bravoman is charisma, attraction, loud voice, strong palms, insolence and cynicism.
Tell us about the casting process. How did you get the cast together?
I had been searching for about 7 months for an actor for the lead role. I went to performances at large and small theaters in St. Petersburg. I watched new Russian films, feature-length and short. I pestered friends from the world of cinema with questions. I posted ads on social networks about the casting. There are a large number of talented actors in St. Petersburg who want to work, but I wanted to find my Bravoman, one who is confident, insolent, charming, and charismatic, but who at the same time is vulnerable somewhere deep inside. About two months before filming the teaser (we shot a teaser campaign for crowdfunding), I attended a performance at the St. Petersburg's TAKOY Theater and there I spotted the actor Igor Sergeev. It so happened that at the same time, my co-writer told me about "a super cool actor" and showed me his photo - and to my surprise, it was Igor Sergeev! I found him on a social network, and sent the script. Igor came to the casting, and it became clear that it was his role. Igor is a real find.
For the main female role, I was looking for a very talented actress with a "thoroughbred" beauty. I have wanted to work with Karina Razumovskaya for a long time. I fell in love with her when I saw her on the stage of St. Petersburg's Tovstonogov Great Drama Theater. I was afraid that because of the tight schedule, (Karina acts in top films and serials in our country that are showed on the main TV channels of Russia) Karina would not pay attention to my modest project because it was both non-profit and a short film. But I still wrote to her in a social network. Fortunately, Karina liked the script, and she gladly played her role.
Other cast members are actors from the St. Petersburg Baltic House theater. The cast of Bravoman are all actors who are already highly regarded in their profession in Russia. For example, the usher, who is played by Claudia Belova, is an honored artist in Russia.
Was there any particular part of the film that was a challenge to shoot and how did you overcome it?
The final frames. I wanted to show some kind of metaphor for what is happening on the screen. I, along with the operator Ivan Zherbin, decided to shoot with a crane mounted on the stage, which had to move from the stage to the exit through the main actors and the audience cheering. To carry and install such a machine in the theater took a huge amount of shooting time by our small team. It is hard to believe, but on the project we worked with only one illuminator. But it seems that everything has turned out well. All the problems rest in the budget, as the script, the creative and the technical team on the film have been wonderful. Sometimes, we used wheelchair instead of special rail (on which rode our operator). As Ivan says: "We wanted to jump over our head, and did it."
Is there a type of film or a particular film that you found inspirational?
The color reference for the film for us was the Russian picture called Bear's Kiss (2002) by the director Sergei Bodrov-elder, and the film Magic of the Moonlight by Woody Allen. As for inspiration, I love the short film Gregory Go Boom. It has nothing in common with Bravoman, but such good works are always inspiring.
How much of your inspiration comes from Russian films versus films from abroad?
I like it when a movie evokes good feelings, even if it has a bad end. These are Jos Stelling's words: "When the film has depth, boldness, a joke and a bit of madness." These kind of films are both in Russia and abroad. It should reach to the viewer. In Russian cinemas, it is hard to find bad films. Almost all are blockbusters. In this sense, I believe that the mission of Manhattan Short is grand because the festival introduces the best short films to viewers from all over the world. I remember my trips to the theater for Manhattan Short films. It has been a real pleasure.