The project was filmed for two years, then waited in the wings in the channel’s grid, and now, when the series is finally on the air, director Aleko Tsabadze recalls the shooting as events of bygone days. Aleko is currently working in Tbilisi on two projects at once and, in his own words, even the Russian language has already forgotten a little.
However, Tsabadze’s pictures made for the Russian market (“Monogamous”, “Philip’s Bay” and many still remember. Aleko Tsabadze can be called a specialist in melodramas and detective stories, but the director did not even intend on historical films. However, love at first sight, which flared up at Tsabadze with a script by Tatyana Artseulova, who adapted Grigory Ryazhsky’s novel “Colony of a Non-Boring Regime” for the series, inspired the director to take a risky decision to try something new.
In an interview with MK, Tsabadze discussed stellar whims, shooting on Red Square and sofa critics.
– The series “Roller Coaster”, probably, it would be fair to call the most ambitious director’s project …
– If we talk about the TV shows that I shoot, then, of course, yes. I really did such a large and voluminous picture for the first time.
– I can assume that the scenario, which reflects three eras, may not only interest the director, but also scare a little …
– At first, all this really scared me. I am well aware of the problems of filmmaking and immediately understood what I would have to face. But I took it all as a challenge. The decision to take on such a project can be called a gamble. Therefore, when I received this offer, I started by talking with the producers to understand how they see it. But sometimes it wasn’t even about money. According to the plot, Seva, one of our heroes, fled abroad. And there was a scene on the ferry in the script. That is, the ferry itself was required, and at that time, plus the retro cars that were transported on it. By the way, the producers were ready to shoot this, but we simply could not find what was needed for the shot in time. The same ferry, for example. So I had to rewrite this moment.
– There are a lot of melodramas and detective stories in your filmography, but historical projects, apparently, are not quite your specialization …
– I really have never done this before. In truth, it all happened by accident. I practically sat on my suitcases and was going to Georgia. It seems to me that it’s enough to deal with serials, it’s time to make your new film. And suddenly Valentina Mikhaleva, one of the producers with whom I worked, calls and offers a script for “Roller Coaster”. And when he fell into my hands, I read all the series at once, like a book, full of historical and love-adventure twists and turns. I was very interested in all this. It is very difficult to shoot this, and the problems here are not only in the old ferry and other props. For example, here are the actors’ hairstyles. Nowadays, popular artists are filmed in two or three TV series at the same time, so their images cannot be changed much. And we, according to the script, the guys from the army returned, and, of course, Mark and Peter could not have such hairstyles as Ivan Kolesnikov and Alexei Morozov, who play them. But what if this is how everything is built in our filmmaking. I had to make concessions, which pissed me off a little.
– The reliability of pictures in historical films has always caused a tsunami of criticism. It is clear that everyone here knows how to play football, write songs and make films. But it is precisely the recreation of historical details for the sofa critics like a rag for a bull …
– Accurate recreation of the era is not in the first place for me when shooting. After all, this is not a chronicle, but art. First of all, I shot a story about love, and not about half-box hairstyles. And I was not always in the film crew.
– At different times, the directors had a different attitude towards the Stalinist era. Films filmed during the perestroika period show that this time is rather gloomy. And now the picture of some TV series about that time resembles old New Year’s cards. How do you see this time?
– I am for beauty, because there is a lot of gloom now, wherever you look. We wanted our picture to be pleasing to the eye. So that there is more love, positivity, good music, beautiful people in her. For some people it seems like shooting for this series. They write how it was filmed incorrectly, that everything is not true, and so on. You were right about the critics. Now there are a lot of people who want to put them up to the wall behind the cinema.
– At the same time, many were impressed by the stellar cast. There are really many celebrities in the series, and they are from different generations. Who was it easier for you to work with: young people or experienced ones?
– I found a common language with everyone. They just need to be loved, and they will do whatever is needed. Of course, stars are not easy. They think that everything is allowed to them. But the king on the court is me. And everything will be as I say. If this suits you, then let’s work together, and if not, then we will find other artists. Fortunately, we managed to negotiate a lot in advance, and there was mutual understanding on the main issues. You also need to be able to create an atmosphere on the site. To make it fun to work and to want to work. Of course, there were hard days. After all, the series was filmed for two years, and this is not a small period at all. But in general, everyone did a great job. There were a few scenes that I didn’t like. And all the actors reacted to this with understanding.
– According to the script, many dramatic events take place in the life of the heroine Karina Andolenko. And Karina in some episodes had, frankly, not the beauty that she is in life. Did she easily agree to this?
– Karina was very professional about the role. By the way, she herself offered to make her almost black teeth. At the beginning of the film, she is a real beauty, but then she ends up in the camp, and by the end of the series she turns into a drug addict. Karina really liked this variety in her heroine, and she worked with interest.
– As far as I know, you built the house of the main characters near Tver, filmed London scenes in St. Petersburg and somehow found post-war Moscow in Moscow itself …
– In general, it is almost impossible to find post-war Moscow now. We had to somehow contrive, in something we were helped by the chronicle, which we also used. We had a stage on Red Square, which, fortunately, has hardly changed. But you need to shoot there before the tourists arrive. Therefore, we arrived at two o’clock in the morning, prepared everything and, as soon as the morning light, began to shoot. Thank God we made it.
– In two years of filming, you could fall in love with historical cinema. Are you planning to shoot anything else in this genre?
– To be honest, I did not like and do not like historical films. It is very expensive and money is usually never enough. In general, I like making feature films more than TV shows.
You’ve been making movies for over thirty years, and you probably have reasons to grumble about how things were better before. Was it really better before?
– Probably, it was still better before. When the first video cameras appeared in the USSR, my colleagues and I looked at them as some kind of frivolous toys. In general, I am not one of those who like to lament about what was good before, but now it is bad. Not bad now. The main thing is to have money. New technologies help a lot, but the problem here is that the choice of opportunities is very large and it is important to understand and focus on what you really need. But now you can shoot anything.