DoP Anton Fursá on Shooting for Netflix, the Meaning of “Cinematic” and his Volvo.
Anton Fursá is a Kiev based DoP and cinematographer with International experience. He’s one of the most talented professionals coming straight outta the Ukraine’s “New Wave” of production masters.
I asked him to introduce himself once and he said something like, “I’m an images addict”, so I was like, “Man, we need a proper interview coz we are sick of those statements and you have much more to tell!” So here we are.
L: Anton, what’s at the core of your productions? Where do you specialize?
A: The main thing that unites all of my work is the presence of people in the commercials that I shoot. Stories about homo sapiens, about us, people. If some cool production company is going to shoot a nice story, music video or commercial about people — that’s the minimum that I need to be involved.
Ahaha! What’s fascinating about people?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, connecting with people is the best thing we have in our world and it’s what makes us happy. For me, stories start to work when the viewers feel emotions. Of course, you can feel the sweetest of emotions whilst looking at a polar bear hugging his little polar bear son on the Discovery channel, but for me, mostly it works when I see stories about other people.
Bullshit question: you need the most intense portrait of a woman in nature, are you into spherical or anamorphic lenses?
Spherical. If she’s the most intense woman, ever.
Okay, let’s cut the bullshit. You are an International DoP based in Kiev and your collection of work demonstrates an amazing craft. What was the most difficult commercial you shot and why?
Honestly, the most difficult experience was to shoot the 3rd season of “The Sniffer”, one of the biggest Ukrainian TV series, now on Netflix. It was 82 days of shooting and took more than a year of work. After this experience, it’s not so hard to shoot 3–7 day-long projects.
I mean, there are technically-difficult commercials and projects, but none of them even get close to such a big project like that TV series.
What about the video Zetetics “Even Tonight”? What is the most challenging thing in shooting underwater?
Oh, yeah. Probably this one was one of the hardest. If you think that you can control something underwater, go and shoot an underwater music video, then we’ll talk!
It’s really hard to control something underwater, in general. When you are there with a $70k camera and you have the eyes of the crew on you waiting for the image of the century, everything becomes a little bit more difficult.
The main problem is that the actor cannot be there for more than 10 seconds. They could, if he/she is a God or something, ahah!
But DoPs don’t care about actors, they care about lights and camera settings only, correct?
No, it’s not true. There was a bold actor on this TV series I did and we really enjoyed working together. So we helped each other a lot. He did some fucking amazing things! He knew what it meant to use a 32mm or 50mm lens, that son of a bitch felt where he should stand on a set so he was in the perfect light and all this kind of stuff. Amazing actor. So answer — no, I really care about actors.
In the Volkswagen Transporter commercial you guys shot in that amazing huge hangar, what was your lighting setup approach? And what are the cool things about shooting car commercials?
In this huge hangar there was a hole in the ceiling. So we put a six Arri M40 through full diffusion to lift up the exposure on the car. Since we wanted to keep a moody dark atmosphere for that commercial and to use real lamps at the same time (they were quite bright), this setup helped us to lift up the car so we could keep everything else a bit underexposed.
If I ask you which car commercial you would most like to shoot, which brand would you pick?
Because I have one!
Ahaha! Best answer ever!
Ahah! No, they have really cinematic commercials.
This brings me to a very cliché question: what is the meaning of the expression “cinematic” for a DoP?
In commercials, perhaps it just means nice, atmospheric pictures. For a feature film, when you really need to tell a story, cinematic means the way you talk to your audience. A very clichéd answer to a very cliché question: the cinematic way to tell the story is when the viewer doesn’t feel that someone is operating the camera, or feel that it’s a studio shot with fake light and all that stuff.
It’s crazy how many talented artists and professionals are based in Kiev. What do you think about the ecosystem, and what do you expect is going to happen in the coming years?
By the way, Roger Deakins won an Oscar for the first time after his 14 nominations last night!
Blade Runner was amazing!
By the way, talking about Kiev, we are trying really hard to get there. Somehow, we are oriented on the European market much more than on the Russian one.
Of course, there is a huge financial benefit for an International production to come over here, it’s much cheaper to shoot in Ukraine than in any other place in Europe. You can work with ultra-qualified professionals on a lower budget.
People here are kicking super hard though. We can change our situation by being the best on the market and we have a lot of really high quality productions happening in Ukraine or being produced by Ukrainian professionals.
“Grill Brothers” is one of the funniest productions that you worked on, in my opinion. How challenging was it to work on that set?
The shooting must have been a lot of fun, but at the same time, super hard!
We shot it in Belarus. A friend director from Belarus called me and said “I have a commercial here in Minsk to shoot and the client was like, “do whatever you want guys”. I said, “sounds great! Let’s shoot!”. Yeah, basically it was hard from the art department’s point of view because of all those transformations, they were quite tricky to plan and coordinate so they built this transformer set. It worked only by people dragging ropes outside of the set or on set, somewhere out of the frame. So every time we were shooting, the guys from the art department started to pull, push, press things to bring the set to life.
And at the very beginning, we decided that we wanted to have a cinematic commercial.
So cool! It’s always nice when the client says “do whatever you want”.
Hell yeah. It’s really rare, though :)
But it almost always gives the best results for both crew and client.
Anton, I just wanna say thank you for this fun interview! And I’ll see you on set!
Thank you, man! It was a pleasure!
It’s amazing to have you as a part of the Impolite family, if you want to drop names or say a last thing, please do it now!
Ahahah, life is too short to create bullshit!
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