Collaborating to Make Vesper with Kristina Buozyte & Bruno Samper

This week, Giles Alderson & Christian James chat with Kristina Buozyte & Bruno Samper, who made the epic post-apocalyptic sci-fi feature film Vesper. They talk about:

Creating a dialogue with the audience, starting out and failing as filmmakers, finding partners to collaborate with, making their first feature film, working as a directing duo, how to survive in times when you’re not making movies, how they raised the money for Vesper, storyboarding, VFX vs practical effects, and more.

Their Relationship with their Audience

‘We make movies for the audience. We are doing this movie for big screens. After the success in France, other countries are also opening it in theatres. We had this dream and our team was working very hard, not for computer screen release, but theatrical release.’

From the beginning, and even during COVID, it was never their intention of releasing on digital. They wanted people to come and ‘share this experience. We try to use all the cinema tools – the sound, the composition, everything to try to create the most immersive experience possible.’

And the reason that it is so important for them to have a theatrical release? Kristina says that ‘the viewer makes a dialogue with the movie while watching it. And it’s much easier when you are engulfed in this dark hall and there is you and the movie in front, with no distractions. Then you can have the best quality dialogue.’

Becoming a Director

‘It wasn’t for me to become a filmmaker, it was for me to become an artist. Usually, we treat films as a product or content. But we look at movies as art pieces. And that’s why when we create, we work on layers and bringing meanings.’

It is important for Kristina to bring layers of ‘messages, metaphors and symbols so that the movie could talk differently with different audiences who had different life experiences.

With Vesper, we were inspired and we wanted to make a fairytale – they have this deepness because they’re understood by youth and adults, and everybody takes a piece out of that.

I wanted to be an artist and accidentally became a film director.’

Making the Right Connections

‘I think what is important is to have a network, a team before you can work. 

Bruno said that he’d been dreaming of this for many years, but it was just a dream because he didn’t have a network that he could work with. ‘I didn’t have this team. I did art school, I was painting, doing art installation and things like that.

But art school or cinema school is not necessarily to learn because you don’t learn to be an artist. You meet people. You create a team.’

Kristina and Bruno met at an interactive storytelling workshop in Prague and started to collaborate early on, starting with a short.

From Short to Feature

Their short developed into a feature before they even started making it because ‘the concept was too big for a short and it naturally became a feature film. 

And I wasn’t aware how much it cost so I just jumped in and it was very good because when you are a student, you get all facilities from the university, you get cameras, you get your fellow students. And I teamed up with a very good team, everybody was hungry to learn, to do.’

They made that project for 1,400 euros, which was mostly just to cover food. ‘Everybody was working for free.’

The Challenges of Making Vesper

‘There were many challenges. The movie was shot during COVID. The actors were rehearsing via Zoom. And it was very scary. We’d never met the actors before and we came together two weeks before shooting.’

It was also a challenge to set up the project during a pandemic. ‘Production designers and costume designers couldn’t go to the shop to buy material. They had to order everything in advance to see.’

And for Kristina, the biggest challenge was whether they’d be able to portray the reality of the world. ‘When you storyboard it, it seems okay, but a storyboard is not a movie.’ She kept worrying whether it would be enough when they started filming.

Final Words of Advice

Kristina: ‘Try to do things that you really believe in. You’ll meet people on the way and circumstances happen and little by little, it becomes possible.’

Bruno: ‘Don’t be scared to be ambitious. And never give up. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Believe in your big dream. 

For more from Kristina and Bruno, listen here.

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