An Interview with Levan Bakhia – Director of Landmine Goes Click by Ryan Coby

landm1An Interview with Levan Bakhia – Director of Landmine Goes Click by Ryan Coby

Here is the UKHS interview with Levan Bakhia – a film director and producer from ex soviet state, Georgia. Founder and CEO of the largest production company in Caucasus region Sarke Studio.

Since 1998, he has been producing and directing commercials. In 2011, Bakhia made his directorial and writing début with a feature film – 247°F. And now he has hit us with the much anticipated and highly rated (by myself) horror/thriller Landmine Goes Click , which hits the UK with it’s European première on August 28th.

1. How has your Georgian heritage and upbringing directly influenced your films? How much of what you show is reflective of culture in Georgia?

LB – You would not expect anyone to assault you physically like Ilya does in the story, that is true, Georgia is the safest country to come as a tourist.  Then why is this happening in my film you might ask?  Well, because it can happen anywhere, including Georgia, but it does not mean that it happens everywhere and every day.

As for Georgian upbringing, I don’t think it has any influence on my films. I’m Georgian, and I’m proud of it of course, but at the same time I recognise the necessity to open up.  I want to inspire my fellow citizens to break out of the eggshell of our own past and join what is earth now.  NOW there is Earth 2.0, it’s not time to enslave yourself to past.  I see huge difference respecting and appreciating your culture, and then being stuck in it.  So, why not make English language films, why not consider communication with the world, despite the fact where you are.

landm22. What have been your greatest cinematic influences (directors, films, movements, etc)? If you could meet with one director, any time in history, living or dead, who would it be and what could you learn from him/her?

LB – I like to think of myself free of authorities.  Not only in filmmaking.  You see, I believe that you can only be in the state of creativity if you free yourself from your past self, the one who has been fascinated when that past self of yours have seen this or that movie.  I enjoy many directors, and love many different films, but I like to keep it there, at the moment of viewing.

Maybe 5 years ago if you would have asked the same question, I would have answered that it’s Spielberg, and my argument would have been that he is the only director that can tell any kind of the story from E.T. to Schindler’s List in most comprehensive and clear way, and my argument would then continue with comparing him to Quentin Tarantino, who is my most anticipated filmmaker, but with a specific style.  And I would say that I consider someone to be a master if it’s not a style but any style that he can do so well.

But that was 5 years ago, since then I changed my mind.  And I chose to free myself from this superficial judgments and evaluations.  You can always learn by observing other directors and what they do, but then you have to flush it off from your point of view. Or at least try to.

landm33. Is it difficult balancing business with art? Which do you prefer (directing, advertising vs. producing)? Why?

LB – I think when something is balanced it becomes easy, answer is already rooted in your question.  I prefer leading.  That’s what I do best, and leading is my balancing act between those disciplines.  And I have a great team who like this dance that we are now performing, be it in business, art, directing or producing.

As for which one I prefer is actually none of “directing, advertising vs producing”, my favourite stage is writing.  Because it is only then that you are creating. Out of thin air comes the story, of a character that has never lived, and events that have never happened.  But you force them into existence.  When you are directing, it’s only like translating, which of course I love, but of the stories I wrote or took part in writing.

4. How would you describe Landmine Goes Click to someone who has never heard of it before? What would be your greatest selling point?

LB – “Landmine Goes Click – and the only thing keeping it from exploding is you.”  and then I would clarify: “It’s a rape and revenge thriller”.
I think that’s maximum the pitch can be, it either clicks or it does not – and if it does and you watch it, then I hope you will appreciate that the film is much more than just that.

landm45. Do you feel that violence is a necessary evil in genre films? Why or why not? How have people received some of the more graphic scenes and images from Landmine Goes Click?

LB – Well, you see that is the whole point of my film.  I don’t know what is necessary and what is not.  I think reminding of people that violence exists is as good as reminding them that they themselves are kind.

On the other hand, there is a specific sub genre in horror that is revenge.

And it is called exploitation genre, and for a reason.  You enjoy watching them because it cultivates desire to do a revenge in response to certain unjust stimulus that you see in the picture before the revenge starts, and then you enjoy the feeling of getting back, making unjust just, and your cheer for violence, you like how one is tortured and killed just because 30 minutes ago he/she did something horrible.  But is that right?  Should that be cultivated in audience?  That is the question I like to explore.

I guess readers have to see the film to get the point.  But to go back to the question, it’s not being exposed to violence that can be bad for society; it’s the point of view that can damage.  I think reminding people of Yin Yang side of kindness is necessary.  We know who we are by comparing our own selves to those we are not.  In this way, violence is not bad, at least in films.

2476. Explain your influence, and its impact, on Georgian film making. What was film making like before you created your production company and where do you see Georgian cinema headed in the next ten years? 

LB – There is definitely a new wave hitting Georgian filmmaking landscape.  Georgian cinema was famous and had it’s big role in Soviet culture, we have over 100 years of filmmaking history.  And we are now breaking out to the world, and everyone has his or her own role.  In recent years, Georgian films have won some major film festivals. A film of Georgian directors was nominated for an Oscar in the international category this year.  But I think what Georgians have to recognise is to break free from the past, and dance into the future.  And my company does exactly that.  We try to envision global filmmaking community, and see ourselves taking Georgia there.  What will happen in 10 years? I don’t know, I don’t like to live in future, I like it now.  But maybe in 10 years Georgia will dominate the world cinema, no more Hollywood and even Bollywood.  Only Geollywood.

7. Advice for aspiring film makers? What would be the most important character trait or skill that an individual can have in order to make it in the industry?

LB – I started a blog on www.landmingoesclick.com, where I propose the idea that indie filmmakers should become indie distributors as well, or otherwise they become extinct.  There is not much that I can tell filmmakers that has not been said already, things like it’s only about doing it rather than dreaming about it.  Being brave enough and etc.  But I think something new that I can advise is to stop saying that their job is done when film is finished, it’s exactly then when their job starts.  And if you don’t like this truth, then move on to something else or count on a lottery.

landm58. What are you working on for the future? How does it stack up to your other films and where do you see yourself going, artistically, in the future.

LB – Philosophy.  Translating complicated philosophical ideas into easily comprehensible stories is what I want to do.  I am fascinated by life.

UK Screening at FRIGHTFEST FRIDAY 28TH August – EUROPEAN PREMIÈRE – LANDMINE GOES CLICK
Film 4 Screen 1.00pm – Arrow Screen 3.35pm – Horror Channel Screen 11.30am.

You can read Ryan Coby’s review of Landmine Goes Click here – http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/landmine-goes-click-2015-review/

You can follow Levan on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/lbakhia

And watch the Landmine Goes Click trailer below

Landmine Goes Click (2015) Review

landm1Landmine Goes Click (2015)

Director: Levan Bakhia

Starring: Sterling Knight, Spencer Locke, Dean Geyer

Sarke Studio

European Première – FrightFest 28th August 2015

Dare to step off

When three friends decide to take a vacation through the country of Georgia, off the beaten path, little do they know of the events to ensue. Daniel (Dean Geyer) and Alicia (Spencer Locke) are expecting to get married, happily backpacking through the wilderness with Daniel’s best friend Chris (Sterling Knight) before the special day, but when the relationship turns sour the trip takes a much darker turn. If the thought of stepping on an un-triggered landmine makes you squirm, then what follows may be hard to digest.

I was initially underwhelmed with the beginning of the movie and was not sure much potential was going to show throughout the running time of the film. The opening twenty minutes was a cliché mess of poor writing and acting that seemed to be headed toward a typical American horror film with younger actors. However, I’m glad I stuck it out and waited as the script tightened back up with some sharper writing and more believable performances as time elapsed. To boot, the plot, seemingly centred around a landmine and the poor wretch who stepped on it, evolved past the obvious into something a little darker than the expected Saw-booby trap setup.

landm2Once the plot lines up, the film turns from a simple isolation horror story into a film of depraved madness and revenge. Kote Tolordava steals the film as Ilya, our purveyor of aforementioned madness, and his arrival spins the story arc into a test of will, both for the viewer and the characters, that mirrors such films as Funny Games or Last House on the Left. Although the cast is light I never felt as though something bigger would have meant better and was hooked as soon as the film intensified. Even the shaky acting during the opening was excusable as both Spencer Locke and Sterling Knight give out some uncomfortable, intense performances for the remainder.

Sound is minimal, highlighted at tense moments and only for a matter of seconds. This fortifies the acting and allows Kote to remain the centrepiece during all key moments save for the ending. His dialogue is a shining example of how much can be done with so little, as Ilya goes from likeable to terrifying in a manner of minutes. There is a surreal quality to some of the more off putting scenes, as though a character like Ilya would not be capable of the atrocities he commits. The effects are also brief and lightly handled, but who needs gore and over the top theatrics when raw acting and visceral scenes push the film’s value beyond the superficial?

landm3I was surprised by Landmine Goes Click, and after watching the film will seek it out for my ever growing horror movie collection. Some films take time to sink in, stumbling through a few rough patches and missteps along the way. As unnerving as it becomes, this is a movie worth watching. If you do not mind indulging in the bleak or stepping outside of your comfort zone, push through the first portion of the movie and continue trekking until you find what you are looking for. I guarantee it will not disappoint.

9/10

For more info please visit – www.film.landminegoesclick.com

Landmine Goes Click secures its London première at Film4 Frightfest

lgcLandmine Goes Click starring Sterling Knight and Spencer Locke secures its London première at Film4 Frightfest.

Landmine Goes Click starring Sterling Knight (Melissa & Joey; MacKenzie Falls), Spencer Locke (Resident Evil; Cougar Town) and Dean Geyer (Glee; Terra Nova) will make its London première as part of the selection at Film4 Frightfest in August.

Three American tourists are backpacking through the remote countryside of European Georgia when one of them steps on an armed landmine. But that seems to be a minor threat compared to the nightmarish happenings the rest of the afternoon will bring on. A psychopath takes advantage of the tourist’s immobility and brutally assaults the woman he loves.

Sterling Knight is familiar to many as Chad Dylan Cooper in hit TV series MacKenzie Falls, So Random! and Sonny with a Chance, as well as for his role in Melissa & Joey. Spencer Locke is known from the massively popular Resident Evil franchise and the Spielberg/Zemeckis motion capture hit Monster House, but is also no stranger to television with work on Cougar Town. After wowing with his singing ability on Glee and Australian Idol, Dean Geyer has shown he’s also a talented actor with his leading role on US sci-fi series Terra Nova.

lgc1Landmine Goes Click is directed and produced by Georgia native Levan Bakhia who made his feature film directorial début with the thriller 247 F starring Scout Taylor-Compton. The tense script for Landmine Goes Click is written by Adrian Colussi, known for his work on prime time Canadian shows The Jane Show and ‘da Kink In My Hair.

Landmine Goes Click plays at Frightfest 2015 on Friday 28th August.

www.film.landminegoesclick.com