Allow us to introduce another Barclay Award winner, London filmmaker Tanya Kostadinova, who took top honors last December with her Unofficial Video for Boney M’s “Daddy Cool.”
Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you live? Present occupation? Goals and ambitions?
I have just recently graduated from Richmond, The American International University in London (as a) Film Studies major.
How did you first connect with film and video as a medium?
The first time I truly connected with film was in my 6th form when I ended up taking a Film Studies class because not much else was available. Even though I took it just fill in my timetable the class ended up being life changing.
Did you have the song “Daddy Cool” in your mind when filming, or did it suggest itself later on?
I started of looking for a 1970s Disco song and was drawn to Boney M immediately. I was considering “Ma Baker” and “Sunny” as well, but ended up with “Daddy Cool” as I felt it would go best with what I had in mind.
Did you storyboard or just wing it? Is there a narrative here?
Half of it was planned and the other half was winging it. I started out with a clear idea in mind of what I wanted to achieve, however, halfway through filming I had to find another actress and at that point I was just winging it and hoping for the best.
The flow and edit is fantastic. What’s your gear set-up, camera, editing software, etc?
I used a Nikon camera with wide-angle lens and a fish eye to give it a psychedelic feeling and used a monopod throughout. For editing I used FinalCut Pro and played around until it all felt right.
Even though looking back there are a couple of things I would change or re-do, I don’t want to go down that path so when I finish something, even if it’s not perfect, I would rather just move on.
Are you already professionally employed in the field? Part-time? Hobby?
So far, I have been mainly focused on my studies and doing a bit of freelance on the side, but all of that was before we went into a global pandemic, of course.
What are you working on at present? Has the pandemic stifled or invigorated your creativity?
Lockdown has definitely heightened my creativity as I feel that I’m able to focus much easier on my ideas and express myself in variety of forms. I have been working on expanding my Photography portfolio as well as having recently started writing poetry.
Can you discuss a few artists or influences that helped to shape your aesthetic?
Growing up I was mainly exposed to mainstream blockbuster movies which never really intrigued me that much. Didn’t think anything bad of them but didn’t think anything great either. They were just there.
It wasn’t until 6th form when I discovered a variety of other directors, genres and stories that I was really fascinated by. I am a huge fan of the film noir genre and aesthetically it inspired me for the “Daddy Cool” video.
Let’s take a moment and get to know another of our Barclay Award winning visual artists, Matthew Smith, whose video for the Tyler Childers song “Nose On The Grindstone” took top honors for March of this year.
Can you give us a brief biographical sketch? Age, location, background, studies, profession?
I’m 32 years old, living in Richmond, Kentucky. I’m an Army veteran; I am currently a fulltime student working on my BFA degree at Eastern Kentucky University here in Richmond.
How are you holding up amidst all this upheaval? What’s happening in your area?
It’s not been terribly bad where I am considering what I’ve seen in other parts of the U.S. Recent events have been challenging to an extent. It is a confusing and frustrating time, I feel like, for most of us that are just trying to make sense of everything going on.
Are you a film professional or more of a student/hobbyist?
I had taken a study abroad trip to Massey University in Wellington, New Zealand, last spring. I studied illustration there but also decided to take an elective film and animation class and fell in love with visual storytelling. That’s what I’ve decided my title is, visual storyteller.
What can you tell us about the “Nose On The Grindstone” production? Gear, crew, time?
This video was filmed using a combination of a C100, Lumix GH5, and my Samsung Galaxy when I was flying over the island and about to land in the country for the first time.
I had one other crewmember; he was a graduate student also from the US that I was introduced to, and a former marine. He assisted with camera and lighting, but I directed, performed, produced, and edited the video with the university’s equipment. I think we went from start to finish in about three or four days, max.
We used the university’s recording studio for some of the shots, and then contacted a church nearby to film a few scenes in there and the rest was reenacting the landing scenes at the airport mostly.
Did you have the “story” pretty well laid out beforehand to make a statement?
Tyler Childers and John Prine had toured Wellington just before this assignment for film class came up, so this was actually a project I filmed after the concert for a grade in film class. Tyler opened the show with this song, and I was homesick to a degree because I was expecting a baby back in the U.S.—that’s her ultrasound in the end of the video.
I’d listened to the lyrics and recalled memories from childhood and was always being told that if I wanted to make it as an artist I’d have to leave home and go out into the world to learn how it’s done.
Where I grew up in South Eastern Kentucky, we didn’t have many opportunities in the art field and I wanted to pioneer something here to prove to other local artists that we actually could. So it’s a chronological story for the most part of what they call in fiction as the “hero’s journey,” I tried matching visuals best I could with the words and it kinda just flowed.
Is this your story, or that of someone close to you? It’s an emotional powerhouse.
These are my reflections growing up poor and somewhat under undereducated about the world. The picture of the house belonged to my great grandma.
Neither of my parents went to college, I’m the first, I guess, to actually leave the country and study abroad, so it was kind of a big deal for me to get to tell that story in a country where they know little about KY but have KFC’s everywhere.
I’d been discharged early from the military and when I came home I struggled a lot with insomnia and mental health for a while in my 20’s. It kinda spiraled out of control and (I) couldn’t keep work, my car was getting repoed and I’d lived for about a year in a storage building.
Finally in 2017 I won a claim I’d had to appeal four times from my medical discharge and they back paid me from 2012.
That allowed me to have a second chance in life to have a clean slate and do something I was actually passionate about.
What are you working on these days?
I have about one year left for my BFA degree and mainly have my time focused on getting through that. I did, however, start up my film production LLC in February of this year and invested in resources and equipment to do more filming, documentaries, and music videos.
A friend and I just finished up another Unofficial Video of a song called “Dead Horse” he covered to compete in a contest for Hayley Williams the lead singer of Paramore. I just loaded it to Youtube as well, as a portfolio piece for the business, which is basically what I’d also done with this video.
Everything on my Youtube channel is just a big portfolio for my digital art.