Screenwriter of "Private Cheerin" share how they filmed a military drama at dacha

Sinet Sakhawood
Journalists of News.Ykt.Ru talked with the producer of the film "Private Cheerin" Nyurgun Ivanov, and director Dmitry Koltsov. They shared their ideas on how to shoot a military drama if you are on a budget.

The film "Private Cheerin", based on the story by Timofey Smetanin "Egor Cheerin", is still at the box office. Few people know that the military atmosphere of 1943 was recreated on eight acres at the dacha of the production designer. The budget for such a movie is quite small — five million 500 thousand rubles. In less than a month, the picture collected at the box office exactly as much as it was spent on shooting.

In the autumn of 1943, after long months of exhausting positional warfare, most of Major Belyaev's battalion was destroyed. Lieutenant Loboda reports that he is unable to oppose anything to the German ace snipers who are running the front line. One hope is for replenishment, among which experienced snipers should arrive. But the long-awaited column falls under a German air raid. As a result, everyone dies except a handful of soldiers, and a young hunter from Yakutia, Egor Chaerin. Having met the remnants of the replenishment, Lieutenant Loboda decides to test the young Yakut as a sniper. In the first fight, Egor manages to prove himself. He engages in a battle with German snipers and changes the balance of power on the front line.

Where did the shooting take place?

Dmitry Koltsov, director:

The filming process was divided into three stages: it's nature (forests, fields, river), it's interior (headquarters, dugouts) and trenches as a separate location. Plus, additional filming was organized for battle scenes with the participation of the personnel of the Ministry of Emergency Situations. There was also a lot of shooting of various elements for graphics — fields and forests in the Leningrad region, different blades of grass, boards and sticks to create realistic details of the bridge.

Since we started shooting in the second half of September, there wasn't much time before the first snow. Therefore, first of all we decided to shoot all the scenes on location. Most of it took place in the area of the Kenkeme River. There are special pines and firs there. We also shot near the village of Kildyamtsy, where the filming of "Sniper Sakha" took place.

Nyurgun Ivanov, producer:

After shooting nature, we moved to our dacha trenches - no more than eight acres. In order to protect against snow and maintain the temperature, a structure made of boards and polyethylene was made, a kind of greenhouse over the entire area of the trenches. This made it possible to shoot the rest of the scenes at a later period. Blue shields were installed behind the trenches for the subsequent replacement of the background with shots of the autumn forest of central Russia. Then, in post-production, the trenches were lengthened, the necessary background, smoke and explosions were added. In conclusion, we moved to the Sakhafilm pavilion, where we built the set of the German headquarters and filmed the last scenes in November.

Whose dacha was it?

The dacha for filming was provided by our production designer Gavril Petrov, for which we are very grateful to him.

Who was engaged in graphics?

The main supervisor, the person who manages the process of creating graphics, was the director of the film Dmitry Koltsov. He already had experience working with CG, mainly in advertising, and he knew exactly what kind of picture it was going to be. Dmitry also did the compositing of most scenes — this is cutting out the blue background, rotoscoping characters and objects, backing backgrounds, and bringing it all into one composition, into one image.

Petr Gulyaev took over the work on tanks, trucks, an airplane, explosions, and a bridge. He did a lot of work from modeling to rendering. First, he studied tank models and their drawings, created 3D models to the smallest detail, then did a lot of work on giving tanks physical properties for the correct behavior of vehicles while driving. All the details, every link of the tracks had to move physically correctly. Then it was necessary to paint the tanks properly, to give them a realistic look: they had to be a little dirty and scratched somewhere.

It was also necessary to create a bridge. Our bridge is wooden, and therefore, every detail of it, from a small board to a log, must be unique. It's one thing to create a bridge, another thing is to destroy this bridge correctly, which also turned out to be a difficult task. Falling logs and tanks should carry clouds of dust and smoke, which is achieved by computer simulation of particles.

Dmitry Petrov, a young student of the College of Culture, also helped in cutting out the blue background. He had to learn a lot on the go, but now we know that there is another good specialist in Yakutsk. As a result, almost all the work on the graphics was done by three people. Which seems unreal compared to other major studios.

How much has the script changed?

Dmitry Koltsov, director:

The original script was quite different from Smetanin's story. When we undertook to reshoot the film, we decided to rework the script as well. First, make it much closer to the original source. Of course, a film script should be structured and be more dynamic, especially in the conditions of modern cinema. Therefore, when writing the script, the main characters and events of the story were carefully placed in our new story. The story had to have an interesting plot and tension, a beginning, a denouement, and a climax — everything that the viewer loves. To achieve this, a new character that wasn’t in the original story was invented, namely the German sniper Schultz, who became the main antagonist of Cheerin.

How it was before and after