Mike Bekos won First Prize in Video Art Europe category with his film Ode to Father. We catch up with Greek director about his distinctive style.
What were the main challenges of making the film, Ode to My Father?
The project was a challenge overall. There was no budget and the old man is a taxi driver who works with various production companies. We shot the film with no lights or equipment. I was alone with a producer friend of mine, Tassos Kyriakantonakis and Lamprini Kardaras who is a friend and a great costume designer. We were working on a Russian documentary and I asked the producer if I could have the main actors for 20 minutes to do something of my own. Returning home that night, I had made the film that gave me this award!
The cinematography is beautiful – what did you shoot it on?
Thank you! I worked with a Canon 5dMKIII and a Canon 70-200 f/4 L
Did you use natural light as much as possible?
I didn’t use any lighting at all. Thankfully, the sky was full of clouds, like a giant butterfly. Since I work on the colour grading myself, I knew it would produce a good result.
What impact do you feel winning at the YDA has had?
To be honest, the greatest accolade for me was that the reaction I was expecting from one person, I received from the whole world. That was my award, the knowledge that you shouldn’t be afraid to show how you feel. That even if the person who gave you life doesn’t believe in you, you should never lose faith in yourself, and that you can do great things. On the other hand, at least in my country, I realized that it is very important to receive such a distinction. People hugged and congratulated me, it was moving.
A quick potted history on how you came to direct please.
Basically, it was by pure chance. I owe it to my friend Abel. He was working on a TV show as a camera operator and he asked me to replace him.
A week later, the CEO of the production company, Simos Manganis from Green Olive Films, called me in and asked if I wanted to see the show in the edit. I said OK! At end of the edit, he asked me if I was Camera 3. In that year he gave me more than 70 TVCs.
This man was an education for me, he saw in me what I took for granted and threw me into the deep end. He told me that everything I want to achieve is inside me, nowhere else.
What’s the best film making lesson you’ve learnt?
That the way you approach a project should have you in it, that you recognize that it’s yours when you watch it, that a part of you is in it, still alive.
What is the wisest quote about film making you’ve heard?
Don’t forget that when you’re shooting, everyone is there for you, to fulfill your vision. Entertain them, share your thoughts with them, make them part of the process.
Your worst nightmare production story was when…
In Kythira Island while shooting two films for the Dubai market. The client and the advertising agency couldn’t come to the shoot and during one rainy night, the producer fell and split his head on the steps of the hotel. In the morning, I was left alone with 25 crew members, in a waterfall with a model dressed as a fairy, suspended on a wire rig. It was raining constantly, except for the time we were shooting. And I was shocked when at the end, the model, Melissa Jane Ruddock, showed me how the wire that was keeping her in the air had cut through her skin.
What would be your dream directing job?
My dream directing job is my experience with the film which gave me this award. To work with people who although have their own lives, and have their own experiences there comes a moment where you come together and you exchange souls and in that moment they offer you all the things that you have kept hidden inside you for years. No script, no scenario. On the road back from this journey you feel so full, so grateful.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired from real life, from anything that has emotion.
View Mike Bekos reel here