Manaki Brothers - International Cinematographers’ Film Festival

Interview with Tomi Salkovski, cinematographer and producer: Film Series are the future of the industry

Tomi Salkovski and the ICFF “Manaki Brothers” in Bitola have a pretty long mutual history. Rich one, as well.

Salkovski is a cinematographer by vocation and producer by profession. The period of the turn of the 21st cenutry he was a director of this festival for 8 years, before that a frequent guest in its projects, as a cinematographer and as a producer.

This year he is present at the festival as a co-producer of two ambitios regional projects. The first one is the film series “Black Sun”, from the director Dragan Bjelogrlic and the cinematographer Ivan Kostic (a Serbian-Macedonian-Russian-Bosnian co-production) which is out of competition on the festival, and the feature film “Frog”, from the director Elmir Jukic and the cinematographer Dejan Dimeski (a Bosnian-Macedonian-Serbian-Croatian-Slovenian co-production) which is in the official competition program.

Do you think that the current trend of film series is already creating a new production format in the motion picture industry?

“Black Sun” is a film series, not a television series. This past year we were witnesses of tv series on the macedonian media, the so called “sitcoms”, which are being shot in a studio, a cheaper production variation. They have their value, I am not underestimating them at all, but “Black Sun” is something different. It is a film series, it has a cinematic approach, with a material for 11 episodes with more than 10 hours duration for the first season.

“Black Sun” was made in a production mix: pieces of the story that are filmed in Macedonia, from the first to the last episode, are filmed in a week. That is the cinematic approach in the production, one that lasted a long time, nine months, because it was very complex. But, the editing was done simultaneously, in a fast and modern way. This is definitely an approach to do something different in regionally speaking, while following the production trends present on BBC and the other leading companies. Of course, our budgets are significantly smaller; this is also our first time to do, when it comes to genre classification, an historical thriller.

If you look at things “only” with the eyes of a cinematographer, abstracting your role as a producer, do you think this kind of film series will remain or become a challenge for the classic cinematographers?

Ahhh… I honestly think that this format is the future of the industry! The television is advancing more and more and we are also aware that the cinema turnout is decreasing more and more. Auteurs’ films and the films with an historical context are almost dead for the cinema! What I want to say is that you can’t see the point why they would be made any more for the cinema; they ought to be made for television and the other media, the internet and the viewing platforms, such as VoD (Video on Demand). This last decade we are witnesses that films which are successfull in the movie theaters are only the blockbusters, the hollywood megahits and the comedies. On the other side are the authorial intellectual titles as festival films, if one can say so. Everything that is in-between, but what is also the essence of cinematography, that “grey zone” which is its biggest part, is zamrena. The shift in the series format of the biggest directors and actors is already a world trend.

It’ amusing that this year at the “Manaki Brothers” you have a film series and classic authorial feature film, with social thematics.

Yes, precisely those two contrasting models. I love the authorial film, I am in love with the genre and I’ve always wanted to produce such films, which may leave a mark of a time or a social situation. “Frog” is a project which, after my own estimation, is very significant for the region, but also wider than that, because in the complex of all the films with war or post-war thematics, “Frog” is the first film with a message of reconciliation. We should say once and for all, as in “Frog”: alright, it was difficult, it still is difficult, we were going through – some less, some more – difficult historical moments, but it’s enough already, we should reconcile, to shake hands and to head towards a better future…