The production of a new feature-length film with the working title Salyut 7 by CTB Film Company, Lemon Films Studio, and Vita Active Production is underway in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Director: Klim Shipenko
Producers: Sergey Selyanov, Bakur Bakuradze, Julia Mishkinene
Starring: Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Pavel Derevyanko, Alexander Samoilenko, Vitaly Khaev, Oksana Fandera, Lyubov Aksenova
The film is based on real events that took place in 1985. The unmanned Soviet space station Salyut 7, which is in low Earth orbit, suddenly stops responding to commands from the Control Center. If the space station—the pride of Soviet space engineering—falls from the sky, not only will it damage the image of the country, it will also be a disaster bringing untold casualties. To investigate the failure and prevent the catastrophe, people must be sent to the station. Yet no one in history has ever attempted to dock an uncontrolled vehicle in space. To this day, this mission is considered to be the most technically challenging in the history of space exploration.
The idea for the film was developed by television journalist Alexey Samoletov, who specializes in reporting space-related news. The script was written by Natalia Merkulova and Alexey Chupov.
“Salyut 7,” says producer Sergey Selyianov, “is a film about the uniquely intense and spectacular mission of saving a space station, when in 1985 Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Viktor Savinikh approached the non-functioning station, docked, and were able to bring it back to life. It is considered the most heroic and intense page in the history of space exploration, which, on top of that, was a success. We were very meticulous in preparing for the production. Preproduction took a long time; props and special effects take a significant portion of the film—over fifty percent of action is taking place in space. This is a first for Russian cinema.”
For producer Baker Bakuradze the project is attractive in that it offers an opportunity to create strong characters, the last dreamers of the 20th century, with a unique perspective on their jobs, lives, and country.
“Of course, the script has elements of fiction,” says Mr. Bakuradze, “though it is based on actual events. Cosmonaut Viktor Savinikh wrote diaries that tell a beautiful and detailed story of the entire mission and the people involved. But for people who are not tech-savvy, which is most of us, it would be difficult to truly appreciate all the technical aspects and feel the drama they create. For this reason, certain elements will have to be watered down, while others will be amplified for the viewer’s ultimate enjoyment. But the gist of the plot—the main premise—will remain true to history, and, I hope, will amaze the audiences with its boldness and uniqueness.”
“In terms of purely technical challenges, Salyut 7 is truly humbling for a director,” says director Klim Shipenko. “I always want to make a film in which I will alway have to push myself, rather than stay in my comfort zone. This projects is exactly that. The story centers around two outstanding men and their outstanding feat. I want my film to be on par with those two heroes, while speaking to the modern viewer in a language he understands.”
According to Julia Mishkinene, one of the film’s producers, most of principal photography will take place in St. Petersburg in a specially constructed sound stage. Since most of the events in the film take place on a space station, experts were hired specifically for creating in-camera weightlessness effects as well as CGI. At the same time, the stars Vladimir Vdovichenkov and Pavel Derevyanko are taking special training classes. Supervised by a team of professional stuntmen, the actors are taking a course in intensive physical training. Dr. Loder is the name of the physical training club that provided the facility for the program.
Technical advisors for the film are the specialists from Roscosmos and Energia Rocket and Space Corporation. The two cosmonauts on whom the protagonists of the film were based, Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Viktor Savinikh, also offer their advice to the cast and crew.
Filming locations will include Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the United States.
The film’s budget is estimated at 400 million rubles. Part of the film was financed by the Cinema Foundation.
Salyut 7 is scheduled for a spring 2017 release.