Created as a paean to emotive human connection during a time of national hardship, Ukrainian Filmmaker Kyryl Volovych’s poetic music video for Entely’s Prosa is a dance-led short film that showcases how the depth of a relationship can form through movement and intimacy. Shot on 16mm film in a grand, stately interior, Volovych’s film boasts gorgeous and delicately composed cinematography that emulates the precise, lowkey romanticism of Entely’s track. DN invited Volovych and Cinematographer Borya Borysov for a conversation where the filmmaking pair discuss their working relationship as creative partners, break down the equipment they required to pull off such an ambitious shoot in a grand environment in a short space of time and reveal the shared desire they have to create work that can represent the importance of self-healing.
What motivated you to centre the video around contemporary choreography that represented the emotive connection between two people?
Kyryl Volovych: Communicating and sharing our feelings on an interpersonal level became somewhat of a form of self-healing, since the beginning of the war. There are an ocean of different emotions, perceptions and experiences inside every single one of us, though we are all interlinked by a greater unifying force. So when the idea of creating a poetic piece that visually represents that spectrum of emotions through human motion/dance came around for Entely’s Prosa, it was no doubt it had to be contemporary choreography. It is a tool that unveils an entire world inside a person.
As we had certain moments where we wanted to shift away from the pre-planned choreography, their improvising brought an unmatched value and life to the scenes.
Every shot is so beautifully composed, how did you prepare for that during pre-production?
KV: The collaboration process with the Director of Photography Borya Borysov and Producer Elizaweta Mówshyna has been key here during preparation. I tend to dive deeply into passion projects and having a team of like-minded people that share the same emotional connection with the idea and care about it as much is vital for me, no matter how time-consuming it may be.
And you shot on 16mm film too, right? How did that inform the beginning of the creative process of making this piece?
KV: As we decided to photograph the project on 16mm Kodak film, we spent a lot of time brainstorming, writing down concepts and carefully planning each scene so that the two rolls of film we had would be enough to cover the entire piece. I even jokingly say that this film has been 90% done in prep but there’s a massive grain of truth to it.
Did that mean the choreography was fully mapped out or was there still an organic freedom involved with that aspect of the production?
KV: With choreography it sometimes is hard to not get carried away and spend half of a roll, in awe of humans in a dance, but a lot of the scenes you see in the video have been done in one take! Much of that we owe to our immensely talented Dancers Oleksandra Halushko and Dmytro Hrechko, they are true gems. During casting, it was important for us to find individuals who already had the chemistry, know each other’s bodies, and were brilliant at improvising on the fly. As we had certain moments where we wanted to shift away from the pre-planned choreography, their improvising brought an unmatched value and life to the scenes.
Borya, how did you approach this project from a technical standpoint?
Borya Borysov: For this project me and Kyryl wanted to maintain a slow and careful approach to camera movements and for that, we used dolly and magnum jib to achieve high points and 360° spins around our dancers. We photographed it on Arriflex SR3 and two rolls of Kodak Vision 500T. We used an Arri Ultraprime s16, Elite prime and also a Canon zoom lens 6.6-66mm, which are one of my favourite lenses I have ever shot on.
Was there a shot or scene in particular that was particularly challenging to execute?
BB: The hardest scene to shoot was a 360° spin as the lighting that had been griped to the dolly’s tracks had to move simultaneously with the camera, plus it was quite a challenge for the dancers to maintain the static pose on two tables.
We had to cover a lot of spots and points on different floors inside one huge multi-location and we needed time to move the dolly and the lighting equipment.
But I think, globally, most of the effort was required to manage to just shoot everything on time because of the daylight. We had to cover a lot of spots and points on different floors inside one huge multi-location and we needed time to move the dolly and the lighting equipment. But luckily that was all managed thanks to the great tech team we had, who did everything as quickly as possible.
As for the lighting, we didn’t want to have any unnatural distractions that did not blend organically with the interior, so the best decision was just to supplement natural lighting coming out of windows and align it to the background. Kyryl wanted to keep a natural look just as I did, so we followed this direction.
KV: All in all, it took four months, from the moment the initial concept was born, to seeing the finished piece roam into the world, just because there were quite a few different obstacles and production trials we had to overcome, from location swaps to missile shellings that made us postpone and reschedule. Prosa has been quite a long journey, but I enjoy involving myself in such projects, these are very different to the fast-paced environment of commercials and the advertising world. Nothing is forced, the time it takes feels organic, just as a flower takes its time to grow and bloom. After all, all that’s left for us is to take care of it, water it and create the best environment for it to flourish.
What is the future of your filmmaking looking like in terms of upcoming projects?
At times, I do feel like there’s a magnet that draws me towards stories I want to tell and war has certainly unleashed that internal sense exponentially. Currently in the works, there’s a line of short form campaigns tackling various social matters that are important to me, which is something I look forward to putting out throughout the summer.
On a grander scale, as I come from an editing background, we’re inspecting an opportunity of opening up our very own editing house in Kyiv, Ukraine together with a close friend of mine and a brilliant film Director Pavel Buryak.