Sergii Shevtsov

Sergii Shevtsov

Sergii Shevtsov

U.S.: Institute / Canada: Radke

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first solo project was a shoot for a Ukrainian sparkling wine. It had a simple storyline: four friends coming together to celebrate the end of COVID (although we later realized it was just the first wave).

Even though it’s not entirely my style, I still have a fondness for this spot due to its light-heartedness and sincerity. Interestingly, COVID actually played a role in assembling a great team for it. Otherwise, they might have been too busy for a small project like this.

How did you get into directing?
I’m a former agency creative. Working on scripts and watching how directors brought them to life made me curious, and I really wanted to try it myself. At some point, a friend of mine, who was a director, kindly suggested that I collaborate with them on some projects to gain experience.

That’s how my directing career started.

What is your most recent project?
It’s called “the list of stupid questions i ask myself when i’m high,” and it premiered on Nowness.

It’s a three-minute poetic short film about self-reflection and anxiety. I wrote it in Ukraine and kept it in my notes for a year and a half. Then, while living in Canada, I met a great DP, Luke McCutcheon, who inspired me to finally shoot it.

What is the best part of being a director?
I was watching David Lynch’s masterclass and noticed he does a specific finger movement when he’s talking about ideas. I think I unconsciously adopted this movement. I find myself doing it while imagining a scene for a treatment, casting people, selecting clothing on fittings, working on the set, and directing voice actors. In these moments, I feel like I’m immersing myself in these processes. So, this finger movement is the best part of directing for me.

What is the worst part of being a director?
Dealing with frustration when you learn that the project you’ve worked on will not happen. Also, people saying, “Yeah, let’s do it,” and then disappearing.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
Commercials and music videos – and developing my style in them. Storytelling, visual-oriented, or ironic comedy, post-modern experiment – I love them all, but the idea is queen, of course.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
Unfortunately, I’ve never had a formal mentor. I tend to discover new ideas, not necessarily limited to filmmaking, and draw inspiration from them.
I recently watched Henry Scholfield’s interview and found inspiration in his concept of “Persistence and Innovation.”

Who is your favorite director and why?
Charlie Kaufman — for using surrealism as his method and being so honest at the same time.
Sofia Coppola — for playing with subtlety and precision.
Kristoffer Borgli — for his fresh ideas and strong voice in everything he does.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
Film: Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York — for its depth.
Show: Netflix’s Beef — for its bold style and fresh creative solutions.
Commercials: I have 50 pages of likes on my Vimeo, but I think Ian Pons Jewell’s “Hornbach” ad is still one of my favorites. The direction and execution are as strong as the idea is.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I’m from Ukraine. A linguist by education, I started working in advertising ten years ago as an agency copywriter and then grew to become a creative director. Later, I switched to directing. My career was pretty successful and rapidly advancing until Russia invaded my country. Over the past year and a half, I have lived in Istanbul, Berlin, Vancouver, Toronto, and Berlin again. Now, I’m focused on building my portfolio and finding opportunities to create social projects that will raise awareness about the war.

Have you had occasion to bring your storytelling/directorial talent to bear in the Metaverse, tapping into the potential of AR, VR, AI, NFTs and/or experiential fare? If so, tell us about that work and what lessons you have taken away from the experience?
Not yet, but seeing more and more work made using Runway, I consider it an interesting tool to express your ideas without expensive production.