Justin Molotnikov is a filmmaker from Scotland who started out making award-winning short films 12 years ago (Scottish BAFTA, FUJI Award, Kingussie Film Festival and Belfort Film Festival) that played at festivals worldwide.
Over the last 8 years his work in TV, children's favourite My Parents are Aliens (Director), prime-time drama Taggart (Director), offbeat comedy drama High Times (Director) and international family co-productions Shoebox Zoo (Co Creator and Series Director), has consistently been recognised by the press and industry with multiple awards and nominations - BAFTA, Scottish BAFTA’s, RTS, Celtic Film and TV Festival, Directors Guild of GB, and Banff International TV festival.
Crying With Laughter is his debut feature film as a director and it is a project that he wrote and developed through improvisation workshops with the main cast and then shot over 18 days. It had its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2009 where it was nominated for the prestigious Michael Powell award, and also made ‘Best of the Fest’. Crying With Laughter has further been selected for, or has played in competition at, Raindance, Dinard and Rotterdam Film Festivals and also recently won Best Feature Film at the BAFTA Scotland awards 2009.
Your connection to the British Council
The British Council selected my film, Crying with Laughter, to play at the New British Film Festival in Moscow this year and invited myself as a guest. For me this was a great honour as I am British, born and brought up in Scotland, but I also have Russian ancestry as my Great Grandparents on one side left Russia during a period of great unrest exactly 100 years ago and I am the first of that line ever to return. It was a fantastic experience and great festival.
Your current project
Blood or Water - A noirish thriller about disconnected family and unwitting incest.
What/who originally turned you onto film?
As the proliferation of of low cost video cameras happened during the late 80's early 90's, I started to hire equipment, making short films in my house. Two years later, I gave up my career as a chef to concentrate on becoming a filmmaker.
Career high so far?
The making and success of Crying With Laughter, my debut feature film. It was developed using improvisation and shot in 3 weeks on a low budget (£480k). It was an incredibly collaborative experience and everyone involved stepped out of their comfort zones to pull it off. It has now played or is due to play at major film festivals around the world, has been nominated for a number of awards and recently won best feature film at BAFTA Scotland awards. We have also secured UK distribution (due for release Spring 2010) and a major US sales agent.
First job in the film industry?
Stand-in chef at a post production house.
If I knew then what I know now…
Don't follow a trend, go in the other direction.
What is your favourite British film?
Ken Loach's Kes and Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl. Both these films beautifully portray the joys, pains and connections you have as a child growing up in Britain.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made...
Robert Altman's Western - McCabe and Mrs Miller. For me Altman epitomises what working on the edge of your limits is all about, he was also a creative genius. The film itself is about a group of people who come together to build a new town in the North American Wild West, away from the morally corrupt world they come from. Altman and his team, literally built an authentic Western town in the midst of a Canadian winter and shot the film as they went. It's like no other Western you have seen.
The first film you remember seeing?
First Film in the cinema - Star Wars - 1977. I went to London on holiday and my Auntie and Uncle took my brother and I to the West end to watch this film. There had been a number of bombings by the IRA in London around that time and there was a palpable fear as we drove into the centre, but after watching the film and after purchasing my light sabre, the fear was no more!
Your favourite line or scene from a film?
The crucifixion scene from The Life of Brian. It's funny, sad, poetic, irreverent, musical and cinematic.
Favourite screen kiss?
Al Pacino kissing John Calzale in the Godfather Part 2 - The Kiss of death! For romance I would go for when Lady and the Tramp share a strand of spaghetti and meet in the middle!
Your favourite screen hero and/or villain?
Jack Nicholson playing R.P. McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's one of Nicholson's finest performances and he is the hero and villain all in one.
Who would play you in the film about your life?
Philip Seymor Hoffman - He is one of the greatest living characters actors of our time and has the bulk to pull it off!