Part of project “Tireless People under 40”
Pavel Vesnakov – age 32
I heard about Pavel Vesnakov (Pavka) from my friend Hristina Apostolova. She – head writer of “Stolen Life” TV series, he – one of its directors since the first episode. She was telling me lots of nice things about him and their working moments going on day and night. Before joining this project, Pavka had made several short films. Young, inspired to work and develop, he joined the crew of one of the most popular Bulgarian TV productions and became one of the most important people for “Stolen Life”, though the series “stole” his own life. Hristina was telling me how motivated he is, how he throws himself into the unknown with optimism, how calm he is and how well he is to work with. At that time, I did not even associate him with an image, but rather with stories. Already with the first season came the great success of the production, and the seasons began to line up one after another.
Shooting “Devil’s Throat” came, after a long wait, in July 2017 in Smolyan. Pavel Vesnakov was chosen as the director of the first six episodes. I remember that then our conversations with Hristina about him became more frequent. Every time she was telling me that I will like him a lot and it will take us seconds to start working well. She knows me quite well, she knows my character and what kind of people I like. Take us seconds to start working well – I did not believe it. We went to Smolyan and began table rehearsals. We were reading the first episodes and discussing them. The shooting schedule was announced. A day before the shooting began, Pavka came to me and Teodora, slightly worried, and told us that we would have to do something extraordinary that he would not want like this, but there was no other way. Teodora and I got worried and wanted to find out what was the drama facing us on the first shooting day. Pavka went on and shared that the first scene we were going to shoot was the sex scene from episode 5, though it would be very difficult for everyone to start with it. Teodora and I (the all-time sex couple in the movies) laughed and reassured him that this was not a problem at all, it was like having a coffee, not to worry and everything would go smoothly. He did not know us, but that answer seemed to reassure him.
A little later that day we talked with him again. The process of shooting such a series, with 80% external scenes, at various complex locations, is extremely difficult and the production is actually constantly behind schedule. This brings tension and complicates the work. We do not have the necessary time to make a good fit between director, cameraman and actors. In fact, we did not know each other at all. Pavka wanted to talk with Teodora and me about that. We got together and he told us that he did not know what we like and what kind of people we are. That we do not have time to get to know each other in advance. He only knows that we are both hard-working and full of enthusiasm. He also said that he does not have time to introduce himself to us and to tell us what he likes, how he wants to work with us, etc. He has time only to show us his favourite 5-minute scene from a movie. This is the thing he strives for, the reason why he loves movies, and he is a fan of such acting. We watched that scene and at that second, like Hristina had told me, I felt that I had already started working well with this man and that we would do something good. I will not tell you which the movie was and what the scene was, I will only say that it was exactly what I too like most about this profession. True presence and very pure and natural emotion. We worked very well with him. He is a good person and a director with a lot of thought and experimental sense. If something is invented on the field, it is done directly without much discussion. We were afraid whether such a genre would be accepted by the Bulgarian viewers, but it was also a great pleasure to be in the Rhodope Mountain and that it is us exactly to make this series. Then I worked with him also in “Stolen Life”.
Pavka is a sworn photographer. I can safely say that he is the one who evoked my enthusiasm in photography. He is like a mobile photo encyclopaedia, and is a maniac collector of cameras and lenses. Everything he earns he invests in photographic equipment. There was a lot to shoot in the Rhodope Mountain! Between the takes, I kept asking him questions about details and secrets. Sometimes we were wandering off in the subject. Every day he was carrying a different camera, did not take photos, just carried it for comfort. He did not take photos because he got distracted from the important work. He was telling me about his photographer friend, with whom he had gone on photo vacations and had taken photos all day long, and how he was no longer among us. He did not show it through emotion, but I always felt he was very sad about him.
Often, the so-called “film-makers” do not know the actors, have not watched them and worked with them. They deny TV series and underestimate them, ranking the feature films higher. But such a film is rare in a director’s life. Working with actors, too. In the best case – once every two years. What happened to Pavel is valuable and that is exactly his advantage. For the past 4 years he has directed over 200 episodes of different series and worked with almost all Bulgarian actors. He knows the actors not only by faces from the photos, he knows them in person, he has spent working hours with them. It is an invaluable experience acquired by these series. In addition, the tension and speed of their shooting, the lack of directing comfort, have also taught him lessons he cannot read in books or get from stories. At the moment he is shooting his first feature film on his script. He realises this project now, after the experience gained. In comfort. I think nothing can trouble him, from now on he is ready for everything. I feel that this will be an important film for the Bulgarian cinema. We will watch it.
Pavel Vesnakov. People like him are rare. Truly kind, smart and delicate. His appearance does not show it. It suits such people very much to be also talented. On the outside, he never gets nervous. He is always cool-blooded. He never ever grumbles. Even when the situation is tough, when he is blamed for a delay and everything is against without his fault – he still does not grumble. He never talks against people, he always tries to find the positive in everyone. He accepts things the way they are. To me, this is more than dignifying. He appreciates very well the chance and the opportunity. He is a noble and positive person.
He sees the world in a very different way. He sees and is excited about the gray side, the misery, I would even say the ugly side. He takes them and makes art of them. It is what makes him different. When you look at his photos, you may get shocked, but then you tell yourself that this is a different view to the world that is not common. And to make the ugliness beautiful is really a skill. I think he does it. I mentioned he is smart too. He knows where and how. For example, he would never apply his unique view of the world into “Stolen Life”. He can quickly adapt in different directions than his, and he does it believably.
Pavel has his own blog, where he publishes stories and poems. They also deal with the black side around us, the poverty and the ugliness. Visit the blog and read them, but do not judge. Just read. We are all different and that is why we are interesting.
Pavka is humble and does not talk about it, but in 2019 something happened that I wish him to happen again. At one and the same time, three series directed by him were aired – “Father’s Day”, “Devil’s Throat” and “Stolen Life”, as well as the filming of his feature film. He shared that suddenly the focus and attention turned to him and people already knew his name. This bothers him greatly, the responsibility becomes great.
Personally, I am glad that it happened this way and I wish him the responsibility and the focus on him to be bigger and bigger, this is a sure sign that he becomes more significant. We are yet to hear about him and watch his films and series. Pavel is one of the young directors we can be proud of. As for me, he is the main character in my dreams.
Supported by NIVEA
Text – Vladimir Karamazov
Photographer – Vladimir Karamazov for #Karamazovfoto
13.08.2019 Vladimir Karamazov®