"Beauty" and "experience" seem to have ceased be a prerequisite for a successful career not only in the modeling business, but also in the world of cinema. Today, more and more directors pay attention primarily to the uniqueness and charisma, which are sometimes difficult to play even for professional actors. A good example is Roma teacher and star Yalica Aparisio, who won an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
These are the actors involved in the new Russian project Baza. We spoke with the founders of the agency, Alina Filippova and Sasha Krotkova, about the idea of a “non-acting” agency and the search for unusual types, and asked their actors about how working with Baza differs from working with other agencies in Russia.
Text: Anna Aristova
It seems to me that it happened in a past life and Sasha was my twin brother. One of us makes a slingshot in order to shoot frogs, and the other looks. Then we come to the pond and cannot aim properly, nothing comes out, and our hands do not obey, we sit and gaze at the water for a long time, and we never try to do the same again. But the slingshot stays in your pocket just in case.
There are agencies of atypical models, but we have not yet seen acting analogs. Once I went to a store in a provincial town. A boy of about ten was sitting on the windowsill. He had white hair and an unusual appearance. I went up to him and said: "Do you want to go and take pictures right now?" He spat to the side and replied, “No problem. Just buy me some fish. " This is how it all began.
But seriously, I'm a director, and it so happened that I shoot "non-actors" all the time. Six years already, it seems. I have a couple of people whom I have photographed since their thirteen years - they grew up with me, or I with them - you still need to think about it. I saw how they change, grow. I shot one boy for five years and for the last time I noticed that he had an amber iris around his pupil. I told him that he didn’t know, and then he understood - and the truth appeared.
For the film, we are looking for a hero - it does not matter whether it is a professional actor or not. He must hit, match. Or become a Bressonian "model." He ordered not to think about what you are saying, not to think about what you are doing. Italian neo-realism, Rossellini, Visconti - they all brought faces, essences into the cinema. Ermanno Olmi, "A Tree for Shoes" - none of them will play again. They came to make us understand.
In 2014, I starred in a film with the guys from MSNK (Moscow School of New Cinema. - Ed.), Alina was a producer. That's how we met.
I remember we were sitting in the kitchen, writing the script - and then we started talking about actors and looking for projects that fit them. We love people without professional experience - "not actors" - and did not know where to look for them - there is no similar project in Russia yet. Of course, there are different modeling agencies, but we are interested not only in external data, but also in charisma, liveliness, the ability to work with text and the desire to act in films. We wanted to make a project that we could use ourselves.
It so happens that we find actors in a variety of ways: on the street, among relatives, friends, on social networks. Many people write to us themselves. Not everyone has professional experience.
Working with a friend is good. Of course, we have disagreements - we are two different people. But the main thing is that the general idea coincides, this is the secret. We want to expand Baza with different ages and types - and make people happy.
I really liked one girl. I remember seeing that she subscribed to Baza on Instagram - and decided that I would look very cool if I passed their casting. In addition, my friends were on the Baza page.Before that, I played mainly in theatrical productions, and took part in filming once every three years (now this unexplored territory has taken the same firm place in my life as theater). I immediately found contacts and with the thought “was not there” I sent a questionnaire to Sasha and Alina. To my surprise, on the same day, the girls answered and invited me to get acquainted.
All casting directors and agents with whom I spoke before were interested in the actors primarily as cannon fodder for endless series and extras, and Baza has a humane approach. They are genuinely interested in the actor bringing his own personality to the film and in the end something beautiful.
In general, the casting system works quite poorly in Russia, solely due to the inexperience of the people involved in this industry. I hope that Baza will become an example for young agencies - and eminent ones have a lot to learn from them.
I found out about Baza by accident - at some point I noticed how my acquaintances began to upload photos with recognizable snaps to Instagram. At first I thought it was another modeling agency, but it turned out to be Baza. I really wanted to get there, but did not understand who to turn to, and besides, I was already in another agency. Then I accidentally crossed paths with Sasha Krotkova on the set - and she invited me to Baza.
I don't know exactly what caught Sasha and Alina in me, but it seems to me that they saw potential in me. Before Baza, I was mainly involved in modeling, and my acting skills were at a fairly basic level. Now, with each project, they gradually develop. I love that Baza provides a good foundation for guys like me - not every agent would dare to take on an inexperienced actor.
For guys who are just starting their journey, I advise you to work with an agent you trust. I was lucky with that.
Each time the projects become more interesting - one of the most memorable experiences for me was the filming of the film "Sporrow oratorium" in Murmansk with a Belgian-French team led by director Dorian Jaspers. It was my first experience of acting in English and a great acting experience. Before the agency, I mainly played in the theater.
Sasha and Alina have good taste and a keen eye for current actors. If we talk about everyday work, they always help with the schedule, contracts and fees - for me this is valuable.
For aspiring actors looking for their own path, I advise you to keep looking. I believe that at the right moment they will find the agent themselves, or the agent will find them, as happened to me.
They took me to the Baza project, probably because I have a non-standard appearance and have no acting experience - and now many people strive to shoot real, living people, and not those who know how to play well. Before working with the agency, my friends and I did parties, filmed viral videos, advertisements and short films. I also starred in them - and in the coursework of students of VGIK. I've always enjoyed filming and filming.
Baza differs from other agencies in that everyone here communicates on an equal footing - we are, one might say, friends and even family. There is no tension, the feeling that someone owes someone. People who are sincerely interested in their work work here - no one rips off money from you and does not force you to act in projects that are not interesting to you.
If I could play anyone, I would choose a maniac, a priest, a rock star, a writer … I want to be all at once! In a movie, you can embody everything that you would never dare to do in ordinary life. Therefore, at twenty-seven years old and decided to become an actor. True, while I got only the roles of maniacs and assholes - but they are given with a bang. I hope that a short film will soon go to Kinotavr, where I play an ambiguous thief who made friends with a little girl. Nothing terrible happens, but breathtaking. I hadn’t seen the whole movie yet, but the script was uncomfortable.
How did I start working with Baza? Once Sasha simply suggested: "We are doing an acting agency, are you with us?" I thought it was great, and without thinking I agreed. Since Sasha and I have known each other for a long time, there was no audition. Baza is my first and hopefully the last acting agency. Before starting cooperation with them, I just got into a big movie - my film will be released next year. Then I didn't have an agency, but now I do - it's cool. Working with girls goes smoothly. In Baza, everyone knows each other and everyone works well together. Now I can see how Baza is rapidly gaining momentum - all thanks to Sasha and Alina. With Baza, I already had several modeling shoots and casting for a very cool film. The most interesting is yet to come!