Ilko Iliev is co-founder of Astro Kit studio where he works on various projects for film & TV for clients like Adidas, Nestle, Nissan, Red Bull and many others. Also, he is a professional stuntman and has worked on Conan the Barbarian, Jarhead, London has Fallen, Hunter Killer and is currently working on Hellboy. Ilko is deeply involved in the extreme/adventure sport scene: his skills include parkour, freestyle snowboarding, surfing, and paragliding.
We asked him about his short film Mixed Motion Project, which is part of the Official Competition of the SHIFT Film Festival.
“Do what you love, love what you do.”
How did the idea for this short film come to life?
Me and Marin wanted to do a photography project, consisting of photos of me hanging on the edge of different architectural objects. The idea was to always use the same frame and composition. We also wanted to do a Parkour video shot always from the side and to switch scenes the same way as in MMP3. While we were conceptualising these projects, Marin started to actively shoot with drones, so it didn’t take long until this idea popped up. We did one test shot from which we concluded that we would definitely be proceeding with this project.
Considering the type of film it is, how did you write the script?
I wrote the script while editing over the music and thinking about the shots. It all depended on what I think of or arrange as a set and what stunts I am capable of doing. So basically I did a text storyboard over the music. It took a few edits upon discussion with Marin or as new ideas popped up. Of course during the process we switched up a few ideas or shot some things that popped up on the spot and later appeared in the final edit.
I did the shot list while listening to the music and thinking of what stunts I can perform for the different parts and where I can do them. Marin had a lot of inputs for the locations and stunts. For example: Buzludja was his idea and it’s one of our best shots.
How did you prepare for this production?
We didn’t have much to prepare; our main obstacles were hunting for good weather and time. Cast and crew was consisted of good and skillful friends. The number of shooting days was undetermined: we just wanted to get it done. We ended up with 20 shooting days in total. We self-funded it, so costs were mostly in work hours rather than practical production cost.
What was the production process like?
It was very chilly: we shot the video from November till the end of December, so we had to hunt for sunny days, and the windows we got were just a few hours a day. Other problems were me going through with some of the stunts, like rappelling down buildings, running in the snow, setting myself on fire or jumping in the Black sea this time of the year.
Marin had some issues too: with the wind, as it pushed the drone and with keeping his hands from freezing at times.
How did you handle the project in post-production?
I did the edit myself, and at the end we were fine- tuning it together (adjusting the colours and making some final decisions). The edit was very easy as I had it fully planned and pre-edited by the music so we just filled in holes in at as soon as we got the shots. All visual effects were done by me and the 3D coins were added by my awesomely skilled brother. We made the colour correction in Premiere. Marin was in charge of the colours and I doubt he had any trouble with it.
Where did you get your music?
I found the music on Spotify by The Derevolutions. The Song was spot on, and the best fit for the concept. We didn’t ask the band for the rights until we were done with the project. Then we asked for permission when we showed them the finished project. They liked it a lot and we released the video. We met Brett from the Derevolutions while in NYC and became good friends. He’s an epic dude.
How did you handle the distribution of the film?
We submitted the project through FilmFreeway into the festivals we liked, and actually won a few of them. That got us really motivated. Beside that, we didn’t spend a lot a lot of time on promotion and we’re quite shy to do our own screening.
And finally: do you have any tips for other directors?
Do what you love, love what you do.