Interview with Filmmaker Elena Viklova (DICTIONARY)

DICTIONARY played to rave reviews at the February 2022 LA Feedback Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

“Dictionary” as a concept came to me while working on my previous short, “Through her glasses,” a film based on someone else’s real love story, not mine. Meeting new people on that set and learning their perspectives made me revisit what love is. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question. Love definitions vary from being a mental sickness to being the only meaning of life, and none of these seem to fit. At least in my personal experience. However, one particular concept from the Urdu culture got my attention. It says that love is a cycle that consists of seven stages, starting from attraction and ending with death, a symbolic death. These seven stages not only cover all major definitions you have ever heard but also unite them, stating that love is all of it. And this concept ignited the development of “Dictionary.”

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

It depends on what we define as an idea. It usually takes me some time to research and reflect on the topic before moving to the development stage. I consider art in general, and filmmaking in particular, as another way to learn and explore myself and the world around me. But if we speak in pure industry terms, then from its development till the picture locked, this “baby” took us precisely 9 months.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Indeed, it became a visual dictionary. So the film title speaks for itself.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

It was the first time I worked in this alternative genre – not really a conventional narrative structure, but still a story with its start, middle, and end. Even before developing the script, I decided that this film should consist of 7 shots only, in accordance with the number of stages or words presented in it. I wouldn’t call it an obstacle, but deciding on these mise-en-scenes in pre-production was definitely one of the most time- and energy-consuming steps.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Happiness, excitement, gratitude… At the end of the day, we are telling stories for the audience, and it is sad that we usually can’t hear them back. To learn that your film touched someone’s heart, made them relate to your characters, and reflect on their own experiences is priceless.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Actually, not so long ago. Since my childhood, I have been an avid movie lover, but the first half of my adult life was devoted to finance & banking as a profession. Later I developed an interest in street photography and had a chance to learn from many great artists such as Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Matt Stuart, and others. They formed my first own vision and taste as a creator. However, pretty soon, I realized that a “decisive moment” of a still photograph is not enough for me, and this is how I initiated my first steps as a filmmaker.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

This is such a difficult question to answer – I have many favorites that I am ready to rewatch again and again and rediscover something new in them. But if I have to name one, I guess it will be “Magnolia” by Paul Thomas Anderson. For many reasons – its narrative structure, visual style, incredible performances.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

You are doing a great job in offering these multiple opportunities for your submitters to be seen and heard. My only wish is that this new COVID reality will change, and we’ll have a chance to meet and greet each other in person soon.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

This is not the first time I am using this platform to submit my films, and I find it very user-friendly and convenient to apply and track all your projects.

10. What is your favorite meal?

If we are what we eat, then I am pasta.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Definitely! As a director, I’ve just finished principal photography of my 4th short, currently titled “Black Sunset.” As a producer, I am finishing the post-production of a short romantic comedy titled “Line 25.” In parallel, I am approaching a pre-production stage on two other shorts as a writer and director, “Dense times” and “La vie est belle,” that hopefully will be produced by the end of this year.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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