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How I Made It: Vi (2021)

Victor is the creator of Vi, a computer-based system which extracts your dreams and turns them into electrical energy. Victor, however, has been getting high on his own supply and has been overusing the system as tech support, but also for more personal reasons.

After a random encounter with Laura inside the system, he can't wait to keep getting back in there, to switch her daily nightmares into dreams. What Victor hasn't considered though, is that Laura won't remember any of this when she wakes up, and anything he achieves in the simulation will not be mirrored in the outside world. Such is Victor's own nightmare.

11 min | Bulgarian | Sci-fi | 2021 | Bulgaria

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, the Indian Film Institute brings you the experience of the Director of the film - Deyan Tsvyatkov

What inspired you to venture into short filmmaking? I've always admired storytelling and cinema is the medium that combines all the art forms of storytelling into one. Making short films for me is rather a form of self-education that helps me learn the language of cinema on a less risky and inexpensive scale.

What was your background before making this film?

I graduated as an actor in the Theatre Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria. After a few years of acting I decided to focus on film directing as it has always been a dream of mine. I enrolled in a university filmmaking programme, but soon realised that I will learn much more from doing filmmaking instead of studying. That is how I shot my other two short films.

What was the starting point for you of deciding to make this film?

I had the idea for a long time, but the real kick that triggered its further development was a funding session from the National Culture Fund of Bulgaria. It was an opportunity that made me focus on developing a clean idea.

Why this subject matter for your film?

I'm from the last generation that consciously lived in the analogue era. The transition to digitalization has changed our lives and is challenging fundamentally the way we communicate with each other. While I believe that technological development is an inevitable part of human progress, I think we should be stepping into this unknown territory with a special precaution, since we are starting to neglect one of valuable human traits - the ability to communicate with each other.

Where did you find this story for this film?

I was having a very basic IT job, servicing a communication platform. That's where I felt how instead of being masters of the technology we are rather becoming its servants. And Poof! The idea was born.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

The first big challenge was how to realize a sci-fi film that takes place in an alternative reality on a really tight budget. It is with that thing in mind that I developed the screenplay. It was my third short film, so this time I was prepared to face the wide range of obstacles I will encounter. When you rely on a smaller crew and cannot afford long days of preparations many things go wrong. Happily we went through all the challenges successfully.

Making short films on a zero or a low budget is a common practice for most short filmmakers around the world. Do you think it affects the quality of production? What would you suggest to first time short filmmakers on a budget to ensure a good enough production quality?

Low or zero budgets are naturally reflected with a poorer production quality, but it also gives fantastic opportunities and artistic challenges for the filmmakers. In the case of our film we wanted to create a vision of a dystopian future, but we couldn't afford designing a futuristic reality. This is why we decided to set the film in a retro-futuristic style, which served the story well and relieved the budget as we could get many of the props from flea markets and friends. I would definitely suggest to first time filmmakers to figure out the frames of their budget and then try to realise a story within these frames, trying to slightly push the limits.

Did you face any problems in releasing or distributing the film? Do you think short filmmakers today have a marketplace to showcase and sell their works? A big challenge I'm facing still is figuring out which direction to go with the distribution of the film. There is a whole ocean of film festivals out there and distribution turns out to be pretty costly and time consuming.

How do you think filmmakers like you can overcome common challenges like finance and distribution? Once a filmmaker has built a name for a successful artist, finding finance and distribution becomes much easier. The big challenge, I believe, are the first steps - when you are limited in terms of budget, knowledge and know-how. Once this barrier is passed, challenges become bigger, but there are more means to counterbalance. We, young filmmakers, need imagination, determination and a lot of energy. The rest is patience.

Is this film going to affect the society, and who should watch it.

Everyone working on a computer will feel the theme close to themselves. The film is not really giving any solutions but rather trying to bring light from a different perspective on contemporary problems.

What would you advice filmmakers making a short film for the first time?

Be brave but realistic. Filmmaking encompasses all the arts at once so even the simplest things require proper pre-production. The more time you spend getting things done beforehand the fewer unpleasant surprises you will get during the short and intense filming process.

Festivals and Awards

  1. Berlin Sci-fi Film Fest 2021 - Outstanding Film award

  2. Paris International Film Awards 2021 - Best Sci-fi short

  3. French Duck Film Festival 2021 - Best Sci-fi short

  4. Screen and Story Film Festival 2021 - Special Mention Technology

  5. Bordeaux Shorts Biennale 2021 - Special Mention

  6. Diorama International Film Festival 2021 - Official Selection

  7. Sofia International Film Festival 2021 - Official Selection

  8. Filmfest Bremen 2021 - Official Selection

  9. Madrid Indie Film Festival 2021 - Official Selection

Meet the Director

Deyan Tsvyatkov



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