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Armenian Culture, Science and Education Development Foundation

“There is no country in the world with a weak economy that has a powerful film industry.” Harutyun Ghukasyan

Հարություն Ղուկասյան

After showing the popular television series “Trap” («Որոգայթ»), for the first time Russian film producers expressed their desire to acquire the serials format in Armenia. It is the result of director’s qualitative work, choice of a good idea and most importantly the highly graded written script which’s author was noticed by Russian producers who offered him to work for the popular television series «Abyss» on NTV, the popular Russian TV channel.

“As once I’ve said, there are over ten thousand active screenwriters working in the Russian film market and of course in spite that wasn’t easy, I was able to express myself well enough, make very useful connections and then begin to work”- said the screenwriter Harutyun Ghukasyan in a frank conversation with Culture.AM.

Next proposal did not wait long to come… the first Russian Channel is shooting the comedy «The Christmas mess» («Новогодний Переполох»), which’s script was entrusted to Harutyun Ghukasyan… this is among other projects currently being in a post-production stage or still under development.

Talking about today’s film industry in general, Mr. Ghukasyan noted that results here have always been exceeding their expectations. You will not find any country in the world having a powerful film production but with a weak economy at the same time. These conceptions are correlated with each other.

There is an objective reality. We have a country with the small economy which is unfortunately declining at the moment and that impacts all aspects of our life. Taking into account the small number of cinemas, lack of advertisers and specialists, the result is obvious. No one will wish to make investments in this sector without any return. I think it is time for us finally to have a realistic look at this situation.

According to Mr. Ghukasyan, criticism is a good thing, but the problem should be comprehensively considered.

For example, there is a foundation in Russia called «Film Foundation» («Фонд Кино»), which finances around fifty percent of film production from the state budget resources. That is why in spite of deep economic crisis in Russia the film production is still holding a good level.

According to Harutyun Ghukasyan, the other major problem is the lack of specialists.

“I will speak about playwrights or script writers. Frankly, we are very “weak” here. We do need serious script writing schools, invite good specialists from abroad. The film’s base is the scenario. If you do not have a literate script written according to the rules, then you can’t have a good movie, even if it’s being shot by a brilliant director.

Script writing is a serious and difficult work. The writer or a journalist cannot do script writing at the same time as it requires special knowledge. In the film, the creator’s opportunities are limited in regards of the chosen duration, plot and characters. Hence the conclusion is that we need to teach people how to write scripts. I’m not talking about good or strong one, but at least that could be a literate script writing»- says our interlocutor.

According to Mr. Ghukasyan, there are such films that need good specialists who would feel an ultimate responsibility for the job and having required skills for doing it. “In some cases they create a film or TV project of embarrassing quality, with no logic, causal connection, actors’ motivation and so on. But these are particular cases.

According to the scriptwriter, there are also cases when even producers acknowledge the fact that by making high-quality films they will never return back the invested funds, thus the profit will not be largely equal to its spending.

”I can confidently say that, “Shant TV” will never bring back the money spent on their new serial film “At the border” («Սահմանին») (scriptwriter is Harutyun Ghukasyan – editor). Very serious finances have been spent here in spite of the inadequate economic condition in Armenia. As a business project, this serial film will not satisfy any material expectations, but from the perspective of ideology, patriotism and educating the younger generation, it is invaluable.

I mean that in our reality if someone wants to create a good, contributing project, then he must know in advance that it will be financially unprofitable. Certainly, this type of scenario can’t further develop the film production on a large scale, which is why we need to change the rules. Our government should by all means endorse creating more films which touch upon patriotic and ideological thematics truly affecting global problems and issues. But, unfortunately, the financial support currently insignificant. Instead, from these scarce resources some unimportant and low-level films are being financed that at the end only known to their sponsors and authors as they do not come out to mass cinemas. Later these films may also take part in few shoddy film festivals which will be a big victory for its creators” – said Mr. Ghukasyan

According to Mr. Ghukasyan, a complex approach is needed to solve these problems.

”If we cannot afford creating expensive films, then we need to set a clear guidelines or program deciding how the Armenian film industry should further grow and develop itself. I don’t speak about so-called ”Elite» films about which I have my own subjective assessment. Undoubtedly, this genre has all the right to exist but what I mean now is a mass film production. It is not right to finance films that can be understood by their authors alone. This is a large conversation topic to be returned later. In a mean time I would put stress on the preparation of qualified specialists. If the team consists of professionals, the job will be done competently, in its turn satisfying all the stakeholders ”.

Another important point noted by Ghukasyan is the tax system in our country. ”For example in Russia or even in Georgia the government gives considerable tax incentives to those foreign film production companies who shoot films in their countries. It contributes local experts, for actors to get a job and communicate with highly acclaimed professionals”.

”I personally know several major foreign producers who want to shoot a film in Armenia but instead prefer to work in Georgia as the conditions there are much more favourable’’, said our interlocutor who cherishes the wish is to see our film production’s outstanding results that can be competitive in the world. Asking about the type of films he would like to work with, the script writer mentions the historical and fantasy genres. ”I have written a script for historical film but currently this project simply impossible to implement in Armenia due to a huge budget required for shooting such movie”.

The author of nearly 10 films’ and TV series’ the scriptwriter also is the author of a book.

”In the beginning of 2016 my novel The book of geniuses will be published”. It’s sort of a mixture of fantasy and mystical genres. On this occasion I am currently collaborating with the First Armenian Literary Agency”.

He concluded, ”I would like to have an opportunity in Armenia for making quality films in the genres I have mentioned, but now it’s just a wish, a cherished wish…”.

Interview by Ani Hovhannisyan (Culture.AM).

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