Roman is my second narrative film and it's also my first feature-length film which I made during my third year at university studying media and film productions. I also play the main character which was my acting debut. Roman was created during the lockdown as my initial project was canceled due to Covid. In approximately three months of writing, three months of filming, and about seven months of post-production, I managed to complete this film with a few friends from University. Roman came a long way since the concept was born in my mind. We faced many contingencies, we had to reshoot a few scenes, and we were at constant battle with time. Down below I try to explain the process briefly highlighting the most exciting stuff from behind the scene. that I can remember.
From concept to Feature film
Roman has been cooking on its own in my mind for a while. I was in the 3rd year of my studies. I always had an idea of a troubeled man being left alone forced to do things against himself to gain mental liberation. One day I wrote in my notebook the oppening scene. The main character calling his victim to let him know that he will kill his victim. The main character advises his victim to say good bye to his family as death is coming no matter what. Few days after I asked my two friends to do some test shoot with me. Marek Kawula (camera) Matt Atkinson (Sound). I prepared my room for the shoot, we made some dark red lighting and we began shooting test scene.
This test shoot inspired me to continue drafting the concept further. However, I realized the performance of this killer character has to change. Suddenly, all ideas about the character and his story started coming to my mind altogether. I began with the character, I realized that he can be a troubled immigrant from Russia away all alone away from home. Then I began writing scenes and working on the story. I wanted to show why and how both brothers immigrated to England from Russia. Unfortunately making this film during the first lockdown made a few things impossible to be filmed. At this stage, I realized that I won't be able to make the whole story about their background and how and why they immigrated to England. However, I decided to clarify some story aspects through dialogs using other characters throughout the film. The idea for Roman came from my own experience. When I came to England eleven years ago I was a troubled man being here alone and I felt like the world is against me. I think my brain needed to let those hermetically closed feelings out in form of expression for some elements in my film. The film starts in the middle, where events are already happening and we don't know why Roman is killing, so we watch further to find about the character and what drives his actions. The main aspect of the story was simple from the beginning, the guy left alone in the foreign city was forced to kill in order to save his brother.
I have to admit that I always liked Russian characters in western cinema. I came up with the idea that Roman is tough, Russian-born male and his reclusiveness comes from wisdom and bad experience. Roman also is an ex-Police officer from Moscow, this way I wanted to let the audience know his background and that he isn't a bad guy he is just forced to step on the other side of the law in order to rescue his brother. This information is reviled by Morisson in the middle of the film to justify Roman's actions.
I decided to play the main character. Roman is a rare name in Slavic eastern countries, I have a friend from Belarus and his name is Roman. So I thought that I use It to differentiate from stereotypical Russian names like Vladimir, Siergiej, Victor, etcetera. Roman meant to be tough, sophisticated and troubeled. I began my creation with the appearance, hairstyle, beard, and costume. I started my creation by exercising facial exxpresions that match the character. I was also working a few weeks on Russian dialect and a specific style of voice. However, I've received the feedback to leave my own voice. I wanted my character to express internal sophistication on external appearance. Basically, the way he acts, the way he talks. Roman received a minimal amount of dialogue in order to keep him externally strong. I was training alone in my room for a few weeks, exercising different approaches to build this character. It was absolutely great journey. My biggest challange was to make sure all facial expressons work on the screen, beause my character had a minimal ammount of dialogue to say. Overall I feel that the character works on the screen, but sometimes I felt like I could give him more to lines say, despite he meant to be silent wolf hunting.
Locations (Seven locations in one house)
We were filming during the lockdown and had to rely on the locations that were available to us at the time. For indoor locations, we used our house for most scenes as well as our friend's house. We managed to create seven indoor locations in one house which are totally disconnected from each other throughout the film.
Plan of our house
Seven locations have been created in one house.
Plan of basement
Unfortunately, we have failed while filming the basement the first time for several reasons. Making the basement inside the kitchen using one tiny corner was a great challenge. We have failed on framing and lighting. The location design was also not good enough. At our second and final approach, we added carboards all around and we have wrapped the floor and doors using news paper. On our second approach, we also used more dramatic lighting and more effective framing.
Russian Language and unused footage
Russian Language and unused footage
My main aim was to create dynamic story that never gets viewers boring.
Morisson's kitchen was made in the same corner the basement was set