“Sometimes, one look matters more than the whole speech,” Bohdan Kutiepov maintains. Because of this stance, his videos are rich in “off-screen” context, such as backstage or off-stage conversations of Euromaidan activists, unexpected meetings, and close-ups of politicians’ faces. Therefore, the program council of Hromadske.TV decided to establish a special project for Kutiepov to develop, called hromadske.doc, which includes three videos as of now: Common Cause; The 10th People’s Assembly at the Euromaidan: Uncensored Version, and a video about piano virtuosos performing at the barricades in Hrushevsky Street. These films can be viewed in a separate section hromadske.doc on Hromadske.TV’s YouTube channel.
“A documentary journalist, doubling as cameraman and then director, and equipped with a ‘subjective’ DSLR camera, lives through an event or part of some prominent person’s life, or shows other, unpublicized side of a phenomenon,” is how the creator describes his idea. The Day has discussed with Kutiepov the peculiar features and most important moments of his work, and found out why peeking is an important skill for a documentary filmmaker, and how to shoot a documentary when it is all calm on Maidan.
“My video of the 10th People’s Assembly was the first film of hromadske.doc project. I showed not speeches, but other things, such as who greeted whom, how they looked, and it proved to be extraordinarily interesting. Audience was interested not in how they came on stage and said memorized phrases, but how they prepared these speeches. It was details that were most valuable and ‘delicious.’ I once accompanied Yurii Lutsenko, then serving as minister of internal affairs, on his plane to Zaporizhia. They had a nationwide pool of journalists formed who filmed on-site scenes of the police receiving apartments from the ministry. However, all the most delicious parts remained unfilmed, such as the girls who had greeted us standing clad in embroidered shirts, smoking and saying: ‘Oh, we are so tired from all these ministerial visits.’ Of course, not everything can be filmed. They might have turned away if I approached them with a camera, but still, one can take a peek at some things. I mean real observation, not mudslinging. This is the task of documentary filmmaker.”
Will you take new footage of the Euromaidan for your project, or you have enough video stream archives [Kutiepov has done a lot of live coverage for Hromadske.TV. – Author] that can be rehashed to get spectacular pictures?
“It will definitely be new footage. Documentary requires a different approach. Why hromadske.doc has become a separate project at all? It was because what I was shooting did not quite fit into the video news category, since it was highly aesthetic. Now I can safely use any representational means. For me, they are now one-frame films.”
Clips from your project really look more like short films than news stories...
“All this is assembled intuitively. I use an hour of video footage to create a five-minute story. I do not look through all the material, just recreate what I have seen. As an example, I will tell you the story of how the 10th People’s Assembly video was created. It starts with souvenir rows that surround Maidan. Later on, it shows politicians hugging and kissing. I ask them: ‘What is the plan for the week?’ They stay silent. At the end of the film, a company of self-defense forces marches past the same rows of stalls dealing in flags and badges ‘I was at the Euromaidan.’ Nothing has changed... However, when looking at my work next day, I often think that it could have been assembled in some different and better way...”
What do you film when there is an uneventful calm?
“I try to get a permission to visit some politician, journalist or civic activist. For example, I had an idea to film a politician’s morning, accustomed to public attention or not. It is quite an adventure when a journalist invades someone’s private life. Back when I worked for Telekrytyka, I filmed such stories, so I know that the main thing is do not interfere with the process, and after some time they will stop paying attention to you.”
Do you already have ideas for next videos of hromadske.doc?
“I do not want to disclose my plans. In any case, I follow the events, and then choose the most valuable stories from footage and string them on like beads.”