When did you first take an interest in film-making?
It all started with photography, when I was about 11 years old. My grandfather gave me a Russian Zenit TTL PM 4755 Stills Camera, which uses black and white 24 frames of film.
My granddad taught photography, mathematics, physics and chemistry to students in a secondary school in Bulgaria between 1960’s and mid 1990’s. During those photography workshops, I observed and learned how to develop and process the film and photo paper in the dark room.
I was fascinated by the chemical reaction between the photo paper and the photo solution and how the white paper quickly filled up with grey and black colours and in seconds the empty white paper became a black and white photo. It was just like a motion picture/animation unfolding in an instant right in front of me on a piece of paper. It was magical.
The whole process of taking photos and developing photos sparked a love for photography, which later changed to watching a lot of movies in my teens. In 2008 I graduated from South Seas Film and TV School in Auckland, New Zealand with a diploma in Documentary Directing. After graduating from film school for a few years I did all sorts of jobs on film and television sets, from camera assisting to lighting and production assist, learning as much as I could from the pro’s. During those few years I also started working on my own projects and slowly building a portfolio as a filmmaker.
What are some of the projects you’ve worked on over the years?
During my studies at South Seas Film and TV School I got work experience on “Wheel of Fortune”, “New Zealand’s Got Talent” as production assistant and as an assistant director and camera operator for Alt TV.
Since graduating from South Seas I worked on live events for Maori Television and Union Projects Limited as well as other television credits include the TVNZ arts documentary series “How to Look at a Painting”, Shortland Street and lifestyle programs “Tom’s Kitchen” and “Our Place” (as Second Unit Camera Operator). My feature film credits include David Blyth’s horror film “Wound” as a Camera Assistant and I was a director of photography for indie WWII drama “Journey of a Story” released in 2012.
One of my award winning short films, “Lockie and Love” won the Documentary Winner award at the “Filmaka Competition in 2009” and again at the Western Union Competition at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2013. My short documentary ‘For Alan’ was a finalist at the 2010 Wanaka Mountain Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 2011 British Independent Film Festival and screened at the 2011 Heart of Gold International Film Festival in Gympie Australia.
My short drama thriller “BlindSide” has been accepted to the Cannes Short Film Corner as part of the 65th Festival de Cannes 2012 and officially selected for Denver Underground Film Festival 2012. ‘BlindSide’ and ‘Playmates’ were both Officially Selected in Competition for the 7th Cyprus International Film Festival 2012 and ‘BlindSide’ also screened in Illinois International Film Festival 2012 and ‘Playmates won a Cinematography Award at Cyprus International Film Festival 2012.
One of my other short films ‘The Psychologist’ was Officially Selected in Competition for BuSho – Budapest International Short Film Festival 2012 and screened on Rialto Channel on Sky New Zealand for a whole year 2013.
Currently I am in post-production with my first Feature (as a Writer, Director, Producer) a Multi-Reality Science Fiction Drama titled ‘ARA’ and in 2016 currently I am a screening committee member for “Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase”
Does any one of them stand out for you?
The one that stands out the most is my feature ARA, which is currently in post-production as mentioned above. It is the most ambitious and biggest project I have ever undertaken and scares the lights out of me some times. But as the amazing Sir Richard Branson says “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small”, which kind of explains why I keep pushing myself further and further and why I chose from a number of other easier project to make this impossible science fiction with no financial backing to start with.
Poster Credit: Steve Berry & Photo Credit: Prescott An
Do you have a particular style when it comes to making a movie?
I don’t think I have a style. I am driven by each project and its particular story that determines its style and approach. Currently my journey is in its very early stages with a few things behind me during the last 7-8 years, but I am constantly learning new skills about the creative and the business side of our industry and the more I learn the more i realise how little I know about everything I think I know and yet all of that fascinates me even more. I prefer to follow my gut instinct instead of locking a style or some kind of conventions or setting some kind of rules of how my film will look or feel like. Maybe in another 10 years we can look back and see if there is pattern that could be described as a style. For now I prefer to look forward and keep developing as an artist and as a person. One thing is for sure, that we live life only once and its damn exciting about how many opportunities are out there and how little time we have to grab as many as we possibly can, while we can.
Tell us a bit about your work in progress film ARA. What it is all about?
ARA stands for (Artificial Re-Constructive Anomaly & Augmented Reality Application) >> an AI capable software running C.O.M.A Corp facilities world-wide.
Picture: ARA Key Cast Poster Credit: Steve Berry & Photo Credit: Prescott An
It is the year 2050 and we live in a world a lot different from now, where Jason Andrews, a biotech Engineer who’s last chance of waking up his daughter Samara (Sam) from deep coma is an AI software “ARA” that he developed for the largest corporation on the planet (C.O.M.A Corp) and he is yet to make it fully operational, but before he does Jason will be presented with the most difficult choice in his life. In the meantime the only thing that keeps Sam alive is “ARA”, but for how long they can stay alive? In which way the scales of reality will tip?
ARA Concept Art by Jason Kong for ARA – C.O.M.A Corporation Cryogenic Pods with Test Subjects
ARA is the hardest and most ambitious project I have undertaken so far and I had the privilege to work with some amazing cast and crew. ARA is a thought provoking multi-reality science fiction drama currently in Post-Production seeking finishing funds and VFX Post House/Studio or VFX School to Partner up and Join our exciting adventure to the big screen.
To summarise the principal photography ARA’s current cut has around 1565 shots with more than 3900 takes (pushing the red/record button over 3900 times) during the principal photography, 48 days on set (during weekends only) during 8 months.
How can people keep up to date with your work?