Alex Sarikamichian is a producer and director from Argentina. To more know about him, and his works let’s read the interview below.
COSMOS, one of his recent video works, is “the story of three friends spending a weekend in the woods where true feelings start to arise. Being away from home and surrounded by nature and themselves, makes their true desires possible. In the woods, alcohol, sexual encounters, fights, jealousy and love are part of the same universe.”
Starring: Stefania Koessl Alex Ferrario y Nicolás Lorenzon
Producer: Alexan Films
DOP: Sebastian Ferrari
Art Director : Alexan Sarikamichian
Stylist & Producer Maria Flor Mendez
Editor & Color grade: Paula Baialardo
Asist Producer: Pato Mendez y Damian Zeppa
Credits: Fer Calvo
Wardrobe provided by: Estudio Socias
Soundtrack “Paris, Texas” de Original Artyfacts
Right now, where are you living? What kind of projects are you working on?
I’m living in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. I’ve just released my latest video “NOT YOUR GIRLS” after three months of hard work and now I’m in the post production phase of a twin’s video, called “EVIL TWINS”. The story is about two twins who seem to be quiet and enjoying a summer afternoon near a river with some friends until everything turns dark.
As we know, you’d been a part of important short film projects (such as “La Donna” and “Pude ver un Puma”) as a producer. How did you start to work with a creative team at that sector?
I’ve studied at the “Universidad del Cine”, and I believe that apart from studying you also have to work and do things while you are learning. I’ve found some very talented friends with whom I created many work teams. “Pude ver un Puma” was a very important short film with me as a producer because it got me to Cannes and in LA DONNA we had the chance to work with the best actress in our country, Erica Rivas, both works opened many doors for me in my career. They were both independently done and most of the people in the technical crew were students. These projects were done with a lot of love in them and that’s the reason why the results are so good.
Now, you are working as a director too, can you tell us how did you decide to change your route?
I’ve studied to be a cinema producer, and for me, to play that part means to be in all the areas. In Argentina being a producer is more related to being involved in the financial area and not much in the artistic part but I always knew that producing was doing art itself. I dealt with every area in the move, castings, art, location, finding new talents, and sometimes for paying attention to every detail, and it needed a lot of effort and didn’t have much recognition. However, during all this time I’ve’ learnt a lot and acquired many tools. I’ve decided to direct my projects since 2016, on which I’m also the producer. It’s really hard for me to delegate tasks and trust somebody. My work teams are very small, and as a director I’m going through a big challenge because it was really hard to make up my mind and do it.
Let’s talk about your recent short film project “Cosmos”. Why did you choose a teenage love – road trip theme? What made you want to direct it?
Cosmos is my favorite one, it has a dream cast and I was convinced that I wanted to do something very esthetical, I really like fashion and I had many esthetical references, like Xavier Dolan. Not only the cast but also the location and the esthetic idea motivated me to tell a fresh story and a fantasy that may happen among three friends. I find in youth the most sensitive phase in life and when you can see naturalness in the skin and eyes of the people. Trying to portrait that freshness is fascinating for me. I come up with my projects in a very natural way, if it is too complicated I just don’t do it. I fell something simple is much more emotional than something complex. I frequently apply the thought that less is more in my videos.
As it seems, the role of characters, their styles, even their mimics are very decisive in a certain aesthetic sense. How much did you intervene during the shooting? Or it was all improvised?
The actors are professional models, and that was a special requirement during the casting process. I had a sheet that worked as a guide for all of them but we worked without a shooting plan and we filmed according to the day light, because they said it was going to rain that day. Something very natural happened with the actors, most of all with Alex, who has a lot of charisma, and helped create a connection with the other actors. I remember I didn’t want them to feel any kind of pressure on the scene where they have to kiss each other, I wanted it to look natural, it took us a long time but we managed to do it with laughter and some drinks. I find it very important for the actors to feel comfortable, I want them to feel it is something they want and not an obligation. For me the actor is the soul of the project, what their eyes transmit will be the motion produced on the viewer and sometimes I want to do my videos just to film with an actor I like and fit his conditions for the fisc du rol.
Why did you pick the town Chivilcoy, in Argentina to make this film?
COSMOS shooting was in Chivilcoy, a place where I used to spend my childhood with my family, but especially with my grandmother. I feel her memories are there and I sensed a special connection with her in that place. Something magical happened because the video is dedicated to her, and the whole team knew how important it was for me to be there and play this tribute to her. I felt her presence all the time. We really enjoyed doing it and I knew it was going to be special. I was running on a low budget to do the shooting but I have many relatives there and they gave us a warm welcome and helped us making it a little less expensive.
Can you tell about the art scene relate to film sector of Argentina? Is there easy to direct movies and become “known” in a fast way?
Argentina is one of the countries with a big number of students who choose cinema as a career, but the circuit is much closed. The ones who make it, it’s because a lot of work and perseverance. I do consider there are a lot of talented people, but some of them just have the ideas but can’t take them into action. I don’t consider myself a brilliant mind, but I have specific goals and I never stop until I get them. I’d rather do it than wait for a producer to take care of it. There are two ways of shooting in Argentina, the ones that receive financial help from the state and you have to accomplish some requirements, it takes a lot of time and they get to choose if they want to do it or not, and the other is to do it independently with your friends. I’m a producer of independent films and I think you can reach your goal doing it this way too. My films participated in festivals categorized as Class A with other huge projects; the most important thing is the talent. When a product is really good and honest the possibilities to reach a great review are unimaginable, that’s the thing with the cinema, you never know how far your film can go and all the places it may be seen.
When do you feel “everything is okay” after completing a work?
I’m very intuitive and I work with my emotions, these feelings come during the shooting and not when it is finished. Many times, I get emotional when I see a scene in real time, if that sensation gets through me, then I feel confident about it and it makes me want to do more. If I didn’t feel that things are working out during the process, then I wouldn’t be able to keep going. It has to do with the adrenaline I get doing it and a nervous sensation to see it finished. I find the post production phase really boring because I don’t get along with technical things, and everything becomes very dull. So, when I’m in that process I’m already thinking about the next project without having the previous one finished. Everything turns into a big wheel and keeps me moving.
Except short movies, are you thinking of directing a feature film for the future?
I truly wish I could direct a feature film, I’m learning a lot right now and I take it as an exercise, that’s why the shooting is very relaxing and we have fun while we are doing it, because this projects are for me. They are not a request from somebody else. They help me learn from my mistakes and get confident about myself. I had the possibility to see people feel identified with my projects and many actors call me to participate. I think Alexan Films also works as a training school, nothing is written so whatever happens to the film has to do with the effort of the team. I’d like to think of a mature project for a feature film, and I hope my experiences will help me reach that goal.