A Production Star is Born

Anastasia Mikhaylova graduated with a BFA in Filmmaking with departmental honors. En route to her degree, Anastasia recorded the highest GPA in the program, received an award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, and graduated with the strongest academic performance overall.  And as if her Woodbury workload didn’t keep her busy enough, she assisted on several feature films while pursuing her studies. Our Q&A with Anastasia follows.

 

What sparked your interest in films and filmmaking?

Growing up in Russia, I was always watching films and going to movie theaters. Inspired by those films, my sister and I would often create short videos for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas. Despite how challenging it was for me as a kid to edit a short film, it was always fascinating to come up with ideas for movies. The biggest motivation was my parents. When I saw them smiling, watching my edited videos, it gave me a reason to continue working hard. As I developed my storytelling skills, I started to think about learning film production at a professional level and pursuing a career in that field. With that in mind, I moved to L.A. five years ago to get a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking at Woodbury.

What were the big takeaways, for you, from Woodbury’s film program?

The program covers all the aspects of making a film — writing, producing, directing, grip, sound, editing, etc. My college experience helped me to develop a strong foundation in a wide variety of media and cultural studies fields. Woodbury taught me how to be a highly organized and detail-oriented filmmaker, with skills in assisting directors and producers in all stages of the production process. I enjoyed becoming a collaborative member of various production teams.

What aspect of the field interests you most?

Producing. I think of myself as a good organizer and a highly responsible person, adept at meeting deadlines, which is why I like the administrative and business parts of the industry. Pre-production is my favorite part of the whole process.

How did you connect with the various film productions on which you’ve worked?

At The Lone Drone LLC, my first intern experience, Woodbury’s Film Department Chair, Dr. George Larkin, helped connect me with the owner. As an intern, I was involved with the crowdfunding campaign for the film “The Lone Drone.” The internship dealt with tasks related to pre-production, including researching and obtaining quotes for locations, crew, and equipment, and working on set as a PA. Since graduation, I’ve been a freelance producer on numerous film projects, hiring crews and talent, scouting locations, breaking down scripts, creating shooting schedules and call sheets, and coordinating and supervising crews on set.

Tell us about the films you’re currently working on and what that work entails.

For producer Dimitri Logothetis, I’m now working on “All of Me” (2019-20), a remake of the Steve Martin comedy; “Jiu Jitsu” (2019), a new sci-fi martial arts franchise; and “Kickboxer: Armageddon” (2019-20).  In working as a co-producer for these three films, my duties run the gamut: helping negotiate rates with equipment suppliers, assisting with copyright, arranging meetings and events, editing videos and managing social media accounts, estimating and controlling production budgets, and overseeing expenses and payroll.

What film or films have made the biggest impact on you?

“Requiem for a Dream,” (2000), Darren Aronofsky’s psychological drama, has most influenced me as a filmmaker. It’s the most heartrending film I’ve ever seen. After watching it, I realized how important it is to have a meaningful story, one that can touch the audience in  different ways. Films are not only about dazzling special effects or great cinematography – they’re about characters and their lives. “Requiem for a Dream” is captivating, encouraging viewers to think about the film long after the end credits. The most important thing a filmmaker can do is to help the audience learn the film before they leave the theater.

Is there a director/producer/screenwriter you especially admire?

I  admire Quentin Tarantino and his creativity. His films are noted for their stylized violence, razor-sharp dialogue, and fascination with film and pop culture. I admit I’m obsessed with his style; he takes a story or genre he loves and then completely molds it into his own, often times improving on the original work. I like dialogue-heavy films, and Tarantino is famous for having his characters talk over each other in broken sentences. This makes his stories more mysterious and intense.

 What are your career aspirations?

I’d like to start my own business. After getting enough experience as a producer, I’m planning to open a production company and offer pre-production services. My company will nail down budgets, lock down logistics (crew, equipment, locations and travel), cast the talent, schedule all phases of both the shoot and post-production, and arrange animation, motion graphics and music. Before reaching this goal, I hope to serve as a line producer or production coordinator in L.A. while raising enough capital to start my business and maintain the company’s operations.

Learn more about the Filmmaking Program