I Am Vader, an animated film by second year BA (Hons) Filmmaking students, Lachezar Dimitrov, Ivan Timofejev and Dimitris Konstantinou, has been selected to be shown at the Film Festival, which takes place between Thursday 4 and Saturday 6 May, in Chicago, Illinois.
I Am Vader is now in the running for a category prize and, if successful, will be showcased later in the year at a special screening at the 53rd Chicago International Film Festival.
Director, writer and producer of the film, Lachezar, said: “The film is quite an abstract exploration of the role of work in life, more specifically the different kind of Jobs Dave Prowse - the actor who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars trilogy - went through to ultimately reach both his commercial success, in Star Wars, but also his spiritual satisfaction, as the first Green Cross Code man.
“The story is quite universal: you just never know what your big break-through will be; you never know what opportunities life will bring. I had the opportunity to meet Dave Prowse at a Comicon in Teesside. I recorded my conversation with him; and, with my colleagues back in the Film School, we decided to make an animation based on what he says. Animation was the right medium for me because it allowed me to visually explore the story more deeply: rather than using archive footage we could create our own, based on our own imagination and vision.
Ivan said: “My role in creating the film has been leading the animation aspect of it, which involved teaching Lachezar and Dimitris the animation principles from what I have learned from my experience as well as advising Lache with what is feasible and what would work with the narrative that came out of David Prowse's interview.
“On the surface the film is about David Prowse and his successful acting career; but underneath that it is about hard work and how success comes about through consistently putting your best work into everything that you do. Although Star Wars was a massive success move on Prowse's side, his favourite work has been being the Green Cross Code man as he has halved the amount of road accidents in England and saved many lives through that. The inspiration behind our film came from the ambition that we had as first year filmmakers to want to be really successful in our careers and seeing how other people like David Prowse achieved it.”
Originally from Bulgaria, Lachezar is currently studying Cinematography at the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague as part of the Erasmus study abroad programme.
Lachezar said: “For me, the biggest highlight of making the film in the Northern Film School was to be able to work under the supervision of Ged Haney. His work has been an inspiration for me in my filmmaking in general not just my animation. He was very supportive of the idea and it was him who prepared me before the meeting with Prowse - he was with us all the way through.”
Speaking about his reasons for choosing the Northern Film School, Lachezar commented: “I chose the Northern Film School exactly because of its structure as a film school. I like the mainly practical-based education: we get to make films and learn from our own mistakes, which is invaluable.”
Ivan said: “The experience of creating the film at the Northern Film School was really good! They have really skilled tutors that have helped us in the production of the film in terms of teaching us how to make the most of the hardware and software that was available to us. One highlight of mine during this production was animating a scene with Dimitris at the computer labs and achieving really good results, especially on his end as it was his first time animating. The whole process of creating the scene took about two weeks so it was a good time to get to know each other and build a friendship while working. I chose Leeds Beckett to study film because I heard of their amazing facilities: my friend in the year above me recommended it to me and I thought I'd give it a shot.”
Looking ahead to the film’s showing at the CineYouth Film Festival, Lachezar said: “I am very curious about the reaction of the audience. For me the film is quite abstract and I hope its message manages to get across. I feel like I still have a long way to go before I can call myself a director or a cinematographer; but this is a good start and I really appreciate it.”
Ivan added: “I feel really excited that my film made here in Leeds is going to be shown in Chicago! It blows my mind how a community excited about young filmmakers chose this film out of all the films sent to them and I'm also really grateful to have worked on this film with Lache and Dimitris to see it come this far!”