PRODUCER - VITALIY VERSACE
From Russia with Passion
Interview by John Smith
Many years of experience taught him how to initiate, coordinate, supervise and control matters such as financing, hiring key personnel, and arranging finding distribution. Movie business is his life.
Vitaliy Versace is easily one of the most creative producers in the Russian film industry. Now in Hollywood, Vitaliy has produced or directed nearly 25 films to date. He began acting and writing in 1986 and entered the production area in 1997. He is best remembered for the cult classic Tears of Moscow, which he shot in only three days, as well as a string of impressive adaptations after Dostoyevsky.
I found him to be sharp as a tack - throwing out names and dates with the greatest of ease. With each question, he paused for a second and carefully formulated his answer. Despite the fact he's probably been asked these same questions countless times before by other journalists, Vitaliy obviously enjoys talking about his passion. Movies are his life!
As a filmmaker/producer who has made a career out of making primarily low-budget independent films, what are your thoughts on the recent film Two 13?
Vitaliy Versace: I think Two 13 is an exceptionally well-conceived and well-made film. It's well-conceived for this reason: they understood what their budget was and they wrote the script and made their picture to do the best possible job they could on that budget. One of the worst things you can do is have a limited budget and try to do some big looking film. That's when you end up with very bad work. They accepted their limitations and tailored their film to those limitations, which was the conception. Then with the execution, they did very well.
JS: Does the film signal the arrival of a new trend in the film industry?
VV: Yes. It will not affect the major pictures in any way, but it will affect the low budget films.
JS: You've been a part of the film industry for more than 20 years. What are some of the most significant change you've seen over that time?
VV: Probably the biggest change I've seen has been the ever-growing dominance of High Definition digital technology that will replace film completely in the next few years.
JS: You directed Sam Petricone in Born Into Mafia. What was he like to work with?
VV: Sam was great to work with. He was a very focused, very dedicated, very intense actor who could bring humanity and a humor to the most dramatic situations.
JS: And you shot Born Into Mafia in just seven days?
VV: (Grins) Six and a half days.
JS: That is almost unheard of. Especially by today's standards.
VV: I did it almost as a joke simply to see if I could do it. When I finished, George Anton, who is a good friend of mine, said, "You should remember, Vitaliy, making films is not like brushing your teeth. It's not how fast you go." (Laughing) And, I said, "You're right, George. I'll never make a seven day picture again."
JS: Is that the honest truth?
VV: Of course not. Making high quality, ultra low budget pictures, is my life!
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