Artist Spotlight: Alium Film Productions & Max Diep

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Thursday, October 20, 2022

When you look at the film heritage of countries around the world, you find well-established traditions unique to each region. Young filmmakers are influenced by modern technology and trends, but their style reflects their country’s history and traditions.

Image from the music video "Staples at the desired seams" by Preispolnen. Photo courtesy of Alium Film Productions.

Today we talk with Max Diep from Alium Film, a Russian production company. Max started Alium five years ago and is using the format that many new filmmakers are working in — the fan-made music video. He is also creating short films and horror series. If you watch his video for Ustinna's "Valley Of The Dolls," you can see how close he is to horror films.

Max Diep during a production scene. Photo courtesy of Alium Film Productions.

Max’s work is very much in the style of classic Russian films. In particular, we are looking at his fan-made music video that accompanies “Staples At The Desired Seams” by Preispolnen — one of the submissions to the TIkiKiti International Film Festival (#tkiff). This film is dark and mysterious (video is linked below). During the first viewing you know there is a lot going on. But it is with further views that you come to understand what is happening and how very mysterious the video is.

Photo courtesy of Alium Film Productions.

Max wrote, produced, and directed this video. He also did the CGI work. “We wanted to create something without resorting [to] today’s mass media cliches,” he says. “Cinema is a different view of the world.” Max has accomplished his goal while interpreting his Russian film heritage for his generation. 

When I asked what came first, the music or the story, he said, “I think ideas are always fly[ing] around in the air around me and the music that fits always gives us [the] opportunity to make it right.” So, like most of us, he hears a song and imagines a story behind it. When the story is made into a music video, it comes to life. “I make space where no one can interrupt me,” Max says. “I turn off my phone, do some kind of meditation with repeating music in the background and think about the story. It always works for me.”

Scene from "Staples At The Desired Seams." Courtesy of Alium Film Productions.

The song is about loneliness and the difficulty of finding your place in the world. And what lonelier profession is there than that of a lighthouse keeper? And, in the case of the story for this video, a lighthouse keeper who has lost a child. Death is a common thread with the images here. 

The opening sequence of images lays the foundation of what the lighthouse keeper’s life was. Then we see what his life has become. There are important symbols throughout — some recognizable, others not so much. (Max says to pay close attention to “the red scene.”) And the birds — how did he get the birds to do what they do — CGI or real life? (Max wasn't saying.)

From a technical standpoint, the production is brilliant. The blending of live action and computer-generated images (CGI) is seamless. Max said the live action was made in camera — BMPCC — while the CGI was made with the Unreal Engine 5. The final edit and color adjustments were done with DaVinci Resolve. Understanding your tools has always been an important part of making a quality video. Technical expertise is obvious here. So obvious we hardly even notice it.

This video from Max Diep and Alium Films not only reflects the quality of the music videos we are seeing in this year’s TIkiKiti International Film Festival, but  also reflects the quality of modern Russian filmmaking. It shows how Diep has learned from the history of Russian film and shows the way to its future.

We see this with so many of the submissions to the TikiKiti International Film Festival. And we couldn’t be happier for it.

Article edited by Rosemary Camozzi

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