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.
2. 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.
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.
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.
6. 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.
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