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‘Living Here’: Russia, straight from horse’s mouth
Even though he’s the director of the School of Film, Steven Ross still finds time to remain an active filmmaker and director of photography.
His past work ranges from Saturday Night Live to PBS, but recently, he’s working as a director of photography on a documentary called Living Here: A Kamchatka Tale, with director, writer and producer Irina Patkanian and producer Chip Hourihan.
“The film will focus on the small Kamchatka village of Dolinovka, which found itself trapped between the old Soviet grandiosity and the new Russian lawlessness, set in a time when the old, oversized ideals are being replaced by free-market chaos,” Patkanian said.
Filming began in summer 2008 and is still in production. Filmed throughout various seasons for the past five years, Living Here focuses on various parts of Russia and includes diverse characters and locations –– even narration from a horse.
“Living Here will create a poetic, cinematic experience through a crafted blend of interactions with the villagers, interviews, stylized re-enactments and observational cinema,” Patkanian said.
Ross’ involvement with the film began when he met Patkanian at a conference. A professor at Brooklyn College, she had a vision for a film that she told Ross about and, together, they set out to make her vision come alive.
“We took a seat-of-the-pants approach,” said Ross. “It was fun. It was a nice adventure (to make).”
Despite his involvement, Ross was able to manage his work at the university and the film successfully. Thanks to university breaks, he was able to find time with Patkanian to film the movie.
Currently, Patkanian is in Turkey working. The film also has a Kickstarter page, which successfully raised the $6,000 Patkanian and Ross needed to fund the continuation of the project.
“The more she filled her bag, the more she thinks she’s close (to finishing),” Ross said.
Patkanian has also made another documentary, My American Neighbor, about the perception of America and the American dream from immigrants and others abroad.
Hourihan has produced numerous documentaries and features, including the award-winning Frozen River.
The filmmakers said they plan to continue filming in the fall, hoping to capture “the red leaves of autumn.”
“We will travel again this summer to continue making this film about the beauty, danger and mystery of the Russian Siberia,” Hourihan said.