“Traveling through the America is always an adventure, a journey for the film matter is the double adventure! And each of them can be a subject for the book “
Recently cinematographer Konstantin Frolov, at the call of duty went to a Wild West heavily armed with video equipment, while all around, no kidding, were armed with a real weapons. I was lucky to catch up with him to find out all details about the adventure he had.
What brought you to Texas in the first place?
While obtaining my master degree at the New York Film Academy in Burbank, I met a Writer/Director David B Johnson. He invited me to be his Director of Photography for his project “Fire Water”. The film takes place in the small town of Hunt Texas where David spent time as a child. The main character Jake Phillip is the town drunk and spends the majority of his day shitfaced at the local cantina. One evening after taking it too far he ends up nearly killing himself in a car accident. When the sun rises things are not what they seem as he comes face to face with himself.
What impression do you have about the people in Texas?
People here are very friendly and open. They’re especially welcoming to people from other countries. It’s not every day they get to chat with guys from Australia or Russia.
Hunt (the town where the movie was filmed) has men walking around in cowboy hats. Immediately it seems that you are on a movie set yourself and not part of the crew. I also wore cowboy hat, and looked just like the locals. I found it very comfortable to wear and it kept me my face from getting sunburned.
Lets talk more about the hospitality. There are only two bars in Hunt and they closed one of them for a week for our movie without taking a dime. Moreover, one professional caterer named Brandy volunteered to prepare meals during the whole production. She said it was her life dream to work on a movie set so she was delighted to volunteer her services.
The towns people greeted us with “steak and sauce” – that American counterpart of “Bread and Salt”. The stylists and makeup artists were local hires, and a reporter interviewed each of us. Our story was on the front page of the local newspaper the very next day. The whole town instantly became interested in what we were doing.
Every one in town gathered at the local bar, the Hunt Store. Hunt store is a shop, bar, gas station, a bank and a museum. There is literally everything one would need there. And inside you’re sure to find a cowboy singing a western tune…
Our base camp and primary filming location were co-located. Three huge houses, each of which can accommodate about 20 people. In the first we were filming. The second was the women’s lodging and third for the men. All the houses were decorated in a western style, with deer heads hanging on walls. In Texas, everything is big, as were the houses. Each of us had their own private sleeping area and if it weren’t for crew call, we’d never see eachother.
Tell us about the filming process?
We were working about 12 hours a day, started around 5-6pm and ended at 5 in the morning. What really impressed me is that local people wouldn’t leave until the end of the shooting, and many immediately after the shooting went to work, staying awake throughout the entire week.
We shot 5 nights and it was a pleasure. No matter who you are on the set – you are the part of this project! Our team was almost completely international. I’m from Russia, the Gaffer, Alejandro Talens, is from the Philippines. The Key Grip, Joann Wong is from Malaysia. The AC, Brandon Lee is from Australia. Petra Vasvari, the Production Designer is from Hungary and the Producer Keline Kanoui is from Switzerland. We all teamed up in this amazing town to bring FIREWATER to life!
What particularly surprised you? Would you call “the wild west” wild?
Before returning to California, our Director, David B Johnson told us we could buy a TV, refrigerator, a sofa and a gun – all in one store! Well, we had to see that so we made a stop at a local Walmart. We were very surprised. Guns are just alien on the shelves. One of the actresses, Victoria Bacon, explained what it took to get permission to carry a weapon. You need to take a “very long gun safety course” – about four hours. With that course completion certificate and medical note from a doctor saying your not crazy, you can go and buy a gun. That night, at dinner, she pulled out her gun, cleared and emptied it (you can not give your gun to someone with cartridges) and handed to us. Pretty amazing, you’d never see something like that in Russia.
What advice can you give to those who are planning to go on a road trip from California to Texas?
Car: Keep in mind that you will be driving through the desert, so the windows must be tinted. This is very important, as you will be driving for a long time. Tinting helps keep the inside of the car cool.
Food: One mandatory stop in Texas – is a bar called “Twin Peaks”. Once you enter you really feel like you’re in Texas. And you’ll understand what peaks they are talking about… Cowboys and very beautiful women having a good Texas time.
I also want to mention a stop at a place called “Dairy Queen” – ice cream and fast-food (burgers and french fries). Ice cream so cold that when they bring it to the table they turn it upside down. It never falls out of the cup. David B. Johnson said that when he was young, his parents brought him to the “Dairy Queen,” a lot.
Attractions: Tucson (Arizona) has the huge airbase. Over 6,500 hectares, on which there is an infinite number of decommissioned aircraft. We drove along this field for about fifteen minutes, and it seemed that it has no end. I recommend checking it out.
Also, be sure to visit the historic district in Tucson (Old Town), where residents have preserved the spirit of old times.
Have a good trip!
Written by Katia Rekho
Edited by David B Johnson