2015 has been another year of many varied and interesting projects. We traveled the road of bones, celebrated the pole of cold festival and visited IFA in Berlin, as well as got to know the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent. With all the excitement of fighter jets, speed boats and Reindeer sledges, it was also a year of working with and meeting lots of new people and forming some close friendships.
This year we have continued to learn and develop and we had a few important lessons. How we face difficulties when they crop up in sometimes very difficult circumstances and in often harsh natural environments. We continue to enjoy the process of film production and remain passionate about film making.
Filming this year has seen us put a man into space, journey to the coldest inhabited place on earth, investigate Russian collective farming, Hair Harvesting in Russia and Media Propaganda. We also released our first in-house film “A City Like This” which we are very proud of.
We would like to thank the following companies for their co-operation in 2015: Cineflix, Pinewood Films Inc, Hoferichter & Jacobs Film, Victoria Melody, Sugar Rush Productions, ORF, Eureka Productions, Lenovo, Novation and DaCostaProduções.
So here is to more adventures in 2016 in Russia and welcoming more film crews from all corners of the world coming to film in this exciting, surprising and fascinating country.
September and October we worked on a project for Lenovo. We filmed two videos for YouTube to promote their new #Goodweird products.
One video was a music clip for EeOneguy – Russian vlogger with over 4 million subscribers to his channel. Having a dream to make a really cool music video, he wrote the lyrics to the music composed by our American colleagues.
It was decided that it will be represented in the style of a K-pop music video, so we used lots of cool and weird costumes and make up with the help of our costumer and make-up stylist. We also found a great choreographer and dancers to help bring the video to life.
We filmed in some really exciting locations for the various scenes in the clip: in a sauna and the famous Bunker 42 at Taganskaya. The Bunker is now a museum of the cold war which is 65 meters deep underground.
The second video was an international video of a “dance off” between 3 vloggers and was shoot in America, India and Russia. In Russia we filmed the dancing scene on the Central square of VDNH – The Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy. It is one of the most popular public places in the Russian capital and represents many different elements of Russia with its famous buildings.
The dance was a mixture of 3 different cultures, so we had the Russian gymnasts and guys in bear outfits as well as big Russian beardy men in American cheerleading costumes and our dancers in Indian sarees. Although it was snowing a lot on the day we shot at VDNH, it was really fun and our Green Truck was a busy but warm place to escape the cold.
There was a lot of equipment and crew involved in the filming of these two clips which we supplied, including: cameras, Steadicam, crane, lighting and sound. Editing was made in California by our American colleagues.
Tashkent and Chorsu Market
In November we flew to Tashkent for a week to assist a Canadian crew filming a program for their series about the Worlds Markets for TV5. The program in Uzbekistan was about the Chorsu bazaar – one of the largest markets in Central Asia and the oldest in the region.
In the past only men were allowed to be at the market (selling and buying), women were not allowed but were at home cooking. The man’s duty was to earn money and bring food home. As there were no fridges, they used to bring food only for the week and they kept the products in the ditch, dug near the river.
Nowadays thankfully you can see lots of women in the market, selling and buying cooked food, milk products, bread, fruits and vegetables.
The territory of the market is so huge that it is not easy to understand straight away how it is organised. There are 3 main sections which are located in different areas. The biggest section is the food section which is divided into different parts: under the big dome they sell milk products, meat and dried fruits. Around the dome they have market stalls with fresh fruits and vegetables, rice and spices and a section where they make bread. The second big section is the silk section where they sell textile, carpets, Suzanne as well as traditional wedding dresses. By crossing the street you can find the third section which is crafts. The development of folk art and crafts in Uzbekistan is very important. Ceramics, silk and cotton weaving, metal engraving are just some which have been passed down from ancient times.
In summer we were there to scout the locations and to find the characters for the show: merchants, producers, buyers and here we must say that they are a very welcoming people and genuinely interested in sharing their stories with us.
Fergana Valley and Silk Production
Uzbekistan is one of the world’s top three producers of silk cocoons, with the output for 2015 expected to exceed 26,000 tons. One important branch of the Silk Road transited in the Fergana Valley. Silkworm breeding and silk weaving was started in ancient times in Fergana Valley.
We drove to the Fergana Valley from Tashkent crossing a high mountain pass with a spectacular view which took us around 6 hours. You have to stop two times at check points where they check passports and the car goes much slower though the mountain pass.
We were welcomed by Yodgorlik Factory of Silk production in Margilan where we were lucky to see all the steps from getting threads out of cocoons right up to the final product. Silkworms grow in spring, so we could not see the full process but got a very good idea of how it works.
Rules and Accreditation
If you are coming as a film crew, you need to apply for accreditation to Ministry of foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan through a local touristic agency. There are a few touristic companies that can help with this. But all necessary documents should be sent to them 2-3 months before the crew intends to film.
5 Tips When You Travel to Uzbekistan
- There are some strict rules about what you can and cannot photograph so keep in mind that some administrative buildings as well as inside the metro are not allowed.
- Bring with you dollars, not euros. Due to 1USD being 2755 Uzbek sum (as of 29 December 2015) changing up a lot of money in one go, you will find you need a basket to carry it around in. Change 100 USD at a time – it can be enough for 3-4 days for food and drinks. There are exchange points in all big hotels. For example, in hotel Uzbekiston it works 24 hours.
- Uzbek food is very rich and oily, so when you eat their plov, it is good to have it with lots of green tea. If you are a vegetarian, make sure their vegetable pies like samsa with potatoes don’t contain lamb fat which is one of the main things they use for cooking in Uzbekistan.
- Uzbek people prefer tea to coffee so real coffee is often not easy to find. Coffee Bon on Chekhova Street is a place where you will be satisfied with a good cappuchino or latte; They also offer European food with lots of fresh salads and sandwiches.
- When you travel in summer make sure you have a hat, sunglasses and a bottle of water with you – the sun is very strong.
In October we helped a journalist from Austria’s main TV broadcaster with a project he was working on titled ‘Media and Propaganda’. How different news agencies tell the same story with a focus on international news coverage of events in Ukraine.
We got two interviews at RT (Russia Today). One with RT’s senior political correspondent, Anissa Naouai who has won a Silver World Medal in the Best News Anchor category for her nightly news magazine ‘In the Now’, and another with Ilya Petrenko about his reportage in Ukraine. We then headed to Sputnik, a relatively new agency aimed at foreign audiences to get another point of view.
We also had time to look into Putinversteher (a German word meaning a Putin sympathiser) which is a fashion brand with clothing featuring the face of the Russian president. Their best selling item is a silver ring with the presidents face.