Sergey Selyanov is one of the most talented and experienced producers in Russian film industry. It is the direct result of his efforts that for almost three decades auteur projects find their way to the big screen and gather a cult following. Mr Selyanov can boast an impressive portfolio of 120 films that have shaped modern-day Russian cinema. Among them are “Brother”, “The Peculiarities of National Fishing”, just to name a few. They all came out of the forge of CTB Film. In addition, Sergey Selyanov is a co-founder of Melnitsa Animation Studio, which gave life to such projects as the comedy-driven franchise about the adventures of the Three Heroes, the trilogy of the escapades of Prince Ivan and the Gray Wolf, a feature-length fairy tale “Little Longnose”, as well as educational animated series “Luntik” and “Barboskiny”.
On the eve of the first screening of “Fantastic Journey to OZ”, Mr Selyanov was interviewed by KudaGo.
— I’m sure you’ve developed a special fondness for certain characters while working on the film. Which one is your favourite?
I think I have three: Urfin Joose and his two servants—a bear called Skin, because Urfin brought him to life from an old bearskin that he had at home, and the Clown. Antagonists are often very well developed characters, and you can’t help but feel sympathy for them. But I like many other characters as well. We have some excellent sabertooth tigers and a very memorable Man-Eater. There are plenty more, of course.
— Urfin Joose used magic powder to bring life to an army of wooden soldiers. What do animators do to bring life into characters on screen?
The same that any top-grade actor does to be something other than himself. They use their technique. An animation artist is an actor. He is the one who gives a character a mood, movement, particular quirks. Each character you see has been created and brought to life by people whose talent is no less than that of any famous film or stage actor.
— In The Three Heroes, the talking horse Julius quickly became the audience’s favourite. Many of his lines have entered our everyday lives. Is there such a charismatic and memorable character in your new film?
I’m sure people will have their favourite characters, be it our unusual sabertooth tigers, Elly, or Toto the dog. But you’ll have to watch the film, I’m not giving anything else away. Maybe some will become partial to the wooden solders—I think they’ve turned out to be great. And, of course, there’s Urfin. There’s a character for everybody in this film.
— It was clear from the trailers that the film is packed with quite a variety of characters. Did they have prototypes in real life? Were they based on someone in particular?
Well, you could say that Urfin is somewhat reminiscent of Konstantin Khabensky, the voice talent behind that character. It wasn’t intentional, though. When we only just began working on the film, we had no idea who would be the voice of Urfin. It is not uncommon, however, when artists have a particular real-life reference in mind when creating a character. Often it happens on a subconscious level. When an animation artist thinks up a character, he naturally reaches some amalgamation of different personal quality that exists in his imagination.Read more ...