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Interview with Alexander Kaminer

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Alexander Kaminer was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and after a national conflict in 1990 his family fled to Israel where he graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree and soon was dispatched to military service where he was the IDF’s (Krav Maga) self defense instructor. Soon after the demobilization, Alexander‘s fortune, finally took him to Los Angeles. In addition to his stage and film career, Alexander Kaminer is an accomplished voice over actor and a stuntman.

indieactivity: Why did you get into filmmaking & screenwriting?
Alexander: My interest in literature and movies was growing bolder when I took an advice from a friend at the time to improvise a scene for him. When he saw me doing it, he recommended that I become an actor. And that’s how from being an engineer I ended up signing up for a class with Jack Colvin who taught me the Michael Chekhov technique.

indieactivity: How does an indie filmmaker distribute his or her film?
Alexander: I believe distribution comes when a film is great. There are other means of finding distribution companies and they have their requirements. But I’m not there yet and I can’t comment further.

indieactivity: At what stage does an indie filmmaker need to start planning for distribution?
Alexander: It depends on where you’re with your career as a filmmaker. If are you on top, then it will find you. If you’re just starting out, I don’t think you need to worry about that but to concentrate on making the film

Alexander Kaminer_indieactivity
Gleb Kaminer in Machsom

indieactivity: How does a filmmaker get his film into theatres on an indie budget?
Alexander: Did you see El Mariachi by Robert Rodriguez? It cost him a budget of $7000 at the time to make the film, and it was so good, that distribution found hum, and the film eventually made 2M. The first thing he did, was to make a great film, and that attracted distribution. Do you see?

indieactivity: How can filmmakers finance their projects?
Alexander: Crowdfunding is very popular nowadays, but it’s very tricky if you don’t have a big support group. Another way to start being a filmmaker is to write something that you can film yourself with minimal costs. Everything starts with a little spark.

indieactivity: What films have you written?
Alexander: I’ve written many scripts. Some of them were optioned, some bought, unfortunately none have been made. “LIFT” is going to be my first feature that I’ve decided to write and direct myself.

indieactivity: What films have you made?
Alexander: LIFT is my first feature film. I’ve made web series, but I suppose that is a different animal.

indieactivity: What is your concept on collaboration?
Alexander: If you can’t work as a team, then don’t make films. If your team isn’t working, you need to find a different one. As blunt as this sounds, there are no friends in filmmaking. You have to separate yourself from being friendly and being professional. People will hate you for that. But you have to make the decision whether you’re going to make a great film or be friendly?

Gleb Kaminer in Rise

indieactivity: Describe your recent work?
Alexander: LIFT is my first big production. I did many films as an actor and paid attention to almost every detail. But from my experience of producing my own web show I can say that there isn’t much difference between a short film or a feature, but the scale changes, not the process or the work. And just like in any production, it is very important to have a team that can do many tasks. It is impossible to do everything yourself. Since I’m in the pre-production stage I can’t really go into talking about post-production and I can only talk about what I know so far.

Pre-production is a very important stage in the filmmaking process, and it all depends on what kind of film you’re making. I also don’t think that there’s a cookie cutter pattern to anything. You’d have to be prepared to be very creative, open minded and humble. You can plan a scene, storyboard it, then you get on location and you see something that could make the scene better and you change your mind. Don’t get caught up in doing this all the time, though. Breaking down the script, locations, characters, scenes and budget are very necessary steps to successful production.

indieactivity: What are your future goals?
Alexander: I want to keep making my films. I’ve created The Kaminer Studios that will produce demographically interesting content, independently.

Gleb Kaminer in Esther (2014)

indieactivity: What does an indie filmmaker need in today’s world?
Alexander: Good stories. Exciting stories. New faces. Refreshing characters. I think a lot of filmmakers get stuck in popular genres in order to “break through” and hang out with the big guys. I believe indie filmmakers must concentrate on finding good stories, discovering true talent, revolutionizing filmmaking, inventing new ways to make it happen.

indieactivity: Briefly describe your career?
Alexander: I’ve been acting in many projects, so most of my experience was in front of the camera. When I turned 40 I realized that I wanted to direct (I’ve been writing since 2001). LIFT is my first project and I’m excited to start working on it this winter.

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