Interview and words by Shristi Jaiswal
Film creates conversations, inspires feelings and provides us a lens offering to illustrate the world in colours different than our own. It’s a door offering on the other side both nostalgia and a taste of the unknown.
Anny Dmitrieva, a Moscow based filmmaker and photographer, has produced various films and photographs carrying an essence of romanticism through the portrayal of vivid imagery. From stories encapsulating phases of fleeting love affairs to pictures capturing carefree days spent in the heart of a busy city, Anny has been successful in creating an aesthetic completely her own. During our call she recalled her journey and traced her impression about filmmaking and all its subparts.
What made you choose a life behind the lens?
I guess I cannot imagine myself not being obsessed with photography. When I was a child, I used to live in a small town where at school I came across a blog of a girl who talked about her everyday life and attached her photos alongside. There was nothing special about them: a cup of coffee early in the morning, a forest, a family portrait, etc. I used to look at these images for a long time, trying to figure out what it is about them that inspire me so much. Later, I didn’t go to prom in order to buy my first camera! I knew for sure that I would devote my life to photography, but I didn’t know how to keep the wheels rolling. At university, I organized a shoot for my friends and felt some magic while immersing myself in the process. Far ahead, it took me 4 years of working in an office to realize that my dream depended only on myself and it is I that has to make it happen. After quitting my job, I moved to Moscow, met new friends who were photographers, and in this environment I started working every day to achieve my desired goal.
What themes do you seek to portray through your short films?
In my short films I just want to portray the world through my lens and hope that someone will like the way how I see it. While preparing for a shoot, there are certain visual images and feelings that one wants to convey. However it is in the process of work that all things come together for me. I always like to know in advance the final result I will get, nonetheless, even with the best planning, something can go wrong and this “wrong” will eventually be something “special”.
I didn’t go to prom in order to buy my first camera!
Videography/ Filmmaking being a male dominated field, how would you define the industry and its experiences through your perspective?
I try not to think about it. I am grateful to all the people who work towards creating a movie so that we can watch and enjoy it. Now everything is changing so fast and soon, I’m hopeful, that there will be more women working on films!
Your pictures embody genuine story telling. What would you say is the central essence of the same that you like to express?
My photos are about people. Through them, I try to show an individual’s relationships, try to capture fleeting moments of happiness or sadness- to show people from different sides and understand them.
Out of all the locations you have shot in, which place is your favourite? Why?
I love Paris! I really adore working and living there, the energy of the city is wonderful. That is a place where I never experience such stress as in Moscow and almost every corner of the city seems interesting and special. In Paris I think differently- I come up with bolder ideas or plots. I visit the city from year to year to shoot and every time without fail I end up finding something new!
I really adore traveling and discovering new places where I feel different feelings, which means that new thoughts and new dreams come to mind.
What camera do you use to take pictures on your Instagram?
Most of my photos were taken on a Canon 5D Mark III. I’m currently shooting on a Sony a7R III.
Can you describe to us your journey that you undertook to get where you are professionally?
I didn’t study it anywhere, I didn’t take any courses, I just wanted to shoot and I did it. Sometimes it was scary; I had to understand everything intuitively as there was no one to ask. The most difficult thing was to find my own unique style and decide in which way I wanted to see my photos evolve. I’m still looking for it, still learning, and sometimes I’m scared. I am an introvert, and ironically I work in direct contact with people. When I first invited models to shoot, I was very worried and delved into lots of questions: “How our communication would develop? Would they trust me or not? Did I prepare everything well? Did I think of everything carefully?” But then, I was on the set, getting ready to shoot and everything just immaculately fell into place. Eventually, I began to work with more serious clients, and soon had my own trusted team.
At this moment, I want to come up with something new again and organize a more complicated project. Every new experience and shoots does not always make me more confident. I understand how much more I can and there is to learn; the boundaries in my head are blurred. Conversely these experiences gave me an opportunity to deal with different situations more calmly and accept the differences.
I’m hopeful that there will be more women working on films!
An artist, living or dead, you admire the most?
I am very grateful to Joanne Rowling for her work. It was because of all her books that I, as a child, believed in love, friendship and kindness. I still carry that magic within me and I guess that many people will understand what I mean by it.
Most of your pictures are filtered under the tones of black and white. Is there a particular reason you choose to portray pictures in the same?
Black-and-white images do not distract, you focus only on the frame and what is happening on it. Then again I love colour photos as well. Sometimes while processing the photos, I often make two options.
What does photography personally mean to you?
What does it mean? For me, it is the ability to stop time, fix a memory and then return to it. I often review my childhood photos: my dad and I spending time together, how we celebrated the New Year with friends, etc. You can always go back to such warm moments when you are sad, to smile and cheer yourself up. So much happens within a day, month or year, so much is forgotten and photography makes it possible to save different phases of our lives in order to reminisce it forever!
This situation with COVID19 has changed everything greatly but life has never stood still, some issues only improve existing areas. I hope for the best!
Do you have any secret spots in your city?
Of course! My city is very beautiful and every time I find new places in it. Sometimes, I come to the location for the third or fourth time and see the frame in a completely different way.
How is the current situation with Covid affecting your impending projects?
A lot of foreign shoots were cancelled while some of them were postponed. I try not to feel upset because I understand that many people are going through a very difficult time and you just have to wait and find your own advantages to derive from this challenging situation. I have more time to think about new ideas, of course, they are only in my head or on references, but it is possible to carefully prescribe new scenarios.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
Nature. I love it very much, I feel much inspired and relaxed as possible somewhere in the quiet, like in the mountains. I really adore traveling and discovering new places where I feel different feelings, which means that new thoughts and new dreams come to mind. My inspiration is everything around me: movies, people, life itself – all this!
I didn’t study photography anywhere, I didn’t take any courses, I just wanted to shoot and I did it.
How do you see filmmaking evolving in the coming years?
I try not to analyse or predict the future and most often I do not succeed in it. Now the film industry is undergoing some changes, new rules have appeared. This situation with COVID19 has changed everything greatly but life has never stood still, some issues only improve existing areas. I hope for the best!
Do you have any filmmaking or photography project that you would like to undertake? If yes, then what subject would it highlight?
There are several topics that I would like to cover in my short film. Now I’m developing a script, it will be something very personal and I hope honest!
A quote you wholeheartedly believe in?
By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.
What advice would you give to aspiring photographers and filmmakers?
To watch and to shoot. To shoot and to watch. Listen to yourself and trust your inner voice. Just like that!
Just like that?
Just like that!