Yes. I mean, he's really a very strongly opinionated guy, so he definitely has a point of view. And I think more importantly what he did is he cast a certain way. He was very particular about how he cast. And then within that, you had a lot of freedom. You had a lot of freedom. There were definitely days when he'd be saying, "I want this." And I don't get it. I don't know if I can do that. I don't wanna do that. But in general, he was really free. In general, he kind of trusted that we were there because he thought he was right in casting us, and he thought he wrote a really good script and he had a good book that he could refer to all the time. So I think he was pretty loose.
Do you need freedom to work?
Definitely have to have some freedom. And I think also, so often what happens is - and certainly with first time directors, but even with your bosses - so many bosses just don't get what it is to be the General. That you have to know how to delegate your power. You hire good lieutenants, you hire people who are good soldiers, and then you let them go do their job. Let them go fight for you. So he was pretty decent with that because he's definitely an alpha. And there are a lot of other alphas on the set, so it's tricky. But I think in the end, he really respected other people. Also, between the two of us, we just dig each other. We just liked each other immediately. We both have oddly similar backgrounds. [Were from] different sides of the world, but we just got along. I just really dug him. I liked that he was really straightforward. I'd rather someone just be open, whether I agree or disagree. At least I know where we are. And that's Vadim.
Were you aware what a personal project this was?
About his personal journey? Absolutely. I asked him. When I met him, it was the first thing I asked, Why did you write this? I've worked with a lot of first time directors, but in general, some guys can move cameras around and I knew that he directed commercials, so I knew he understood that. Some people know story a bit and some people are good with actors. All that's great, but in the end, what really matters is whether you have a story that you really want to tell, and that really means something to you. A lot of people are there just because they like to say, Action, or they're there because they want to be star directors or they want to be in the biz or whatever. And that's fine until you get the third week in, the fourth week in, the sixth month in, a year down the line when you've got to edit this thing. You better have a story that really matters to you because it gets lost really quickly with all the other drama that goes on, with all the money, with all the hype, we're dealing with actors, we're dealing with everything.
What mattered to me with this, because I thought this one, if they sold out in any area, it was just not worth making. It was very clear and I said to him, "Well, you wrote this, so I'm assuming you believe this. You know that this character's this way, and that there's also all these other issues that kind of float up that you don't seem to be hammering on the head. Do you know they're there?" He was dead on with all of it and he was such a bull. I thought, You know, he's going to be standing six months from now. I remember saying to him, "Look, I know you've got all this confidence," - it was right when I got the job, we were out having a drink one night - "But you know, there's going to come a time like two weeks into this when you're going to just not know what the hell you're doing. And everyone else around you has way more experience than you and you're really going to start to collapse, and that's just part of it. That's okay. But you won't fool anyone. Like everyone knows this is what happens in the course of it. But just hang in there." And he certainly did. He had a story to tell. That's the most important thing. He'd lock off a camera and he'd have a great story to tell.
What do you mean he's a bull?
He's a big old Russian bull and he just is. It's not in a bad sense. I love that. I respond to that. He's just a big old bull. I like him so it's a good thing. There's a lot of gamesmanship that way going on, which there often is everywhere. Certainly in this business [theres] lots of it. I just say, Say who you are, just do that. Hire me, don't hire me, but just say who you are. That's fine. We'll be okay that way. That's how he is. And some people like it, some people don't, but I totally dig it.