Anatoly Ivanov is an award winning cinematographer and camera operator. Originally from Russia his career path is pretty unique: extreme sports commercials , blockbusters and auteur films, he has done it all. We got to sit down with him and talk about his impressive achievements.
There is no cookie cutter trajectory to get started in the film industry. Cinematographers and camera operators are the breathing life of a film. Some go through various departments
before ending behind the camera, learn to navigate directing or grip and electric (The light
department) first. For Anatoly, his passion for sport and his constant search for adrenaline is perhaps what got him into this industry. A very active child, he was an athlete who was also a storyteller at heart. A few years later, Anatoly found himself filming commercials for one of the most prestigious advertising agencies in Russia. It led him to camera operate a spot for the Russia Olympic team and a myriad of other sport oriented commercials and branded content.
His unique set of skills led him to work on Russian blockbusters Vikings and Furious. Both
feature films are historical action dramas. A lot of tension, difficult scenes to film, fast paced sequences. Anatoly and his sport background were the perfect match for the job. After all, who would be better to film a battle in the snow than an experienced snowboarder like Anatoly? Anatoly’s craft combines the magic of cinema with the epic sensations extreme sports offer. Anatoly shares that when he would watch an action sequence that involved sport growing up, he was actually more impressed by the camera operator’s stunt skills than the actor’s. His dedication to his craft comes from a desire to understand how to surpass himself and his technical abilities, physically. In 2017, he received the most prestigious award for sports video production in Russia- the X Marathon award. He later on became a judge for the institution. This was the first of a long series of awards for Anatoly. While Anatoly claims that his ambition is to film “all the sports”, his commitment to storytelling and collaborations with directors also led him to concentrate on fiction projects.
After attending film school in Los Angeles, Anatoly reconnected to his love of cinema and the creativity and freedom it brings. While the intensity of live filming athletes can be thrilling, playing with texture, lights, character work and location scouting are also very satisfying for Anatoly. Hollywood is the cradle of dreams and the field of endless possibilities. Anatoly has been thriving there but he is also a perfectionist, always wanting to do more. His last few projects show the range of his craft: short films of various genres, from drama to sci-fi with extremely diverse cinematographic styles. We got to see Roger That Roger That, a dramedy. The film is definitely whimsical; it has something of the photography and world of Wes Anderson but also a surreal sepia tone that gives it an enchanting vibe. A quirky story of an inventor, it is far from the style of Anatoly’s other projects: more grounded, intimate, but with dynamic camera moves that could have been found in a disney or pixar narrative film.
As the cinematographer, Anatoly is a core part of the world building of the film. His talent did not go unnoticed. The film is currently in the festival circuit and has received numerous
cinematography awards: the Best Family Short Award at the Creation International Film
Festival, and the Platinum Award for Best Cinematography at the Independent Short
Awards, in Los Angeles but also: the Florence Film Award for Best Cinematography, and
Honorable Mention for Cinematography at Top Shorts Festival, and Honorable Mention for
Best Cinematography at the Global Film Festival. His list of awards continues with international film festivals including the Sweden Film Festival where Anatoly got the Cinematography award for a Sci-fi short film Hope. Research is a core aspect of Anatoly’s work. Each project is like learning a new language – the director’s vision. Color palettes are important but also the choice of camera angles, as an extension of the feelings and thoughts of the characters portrayed on the screen. Hope is set in a futuristic no man land. Anatoly chose a palette that is green, reminiscent of nature, but faded. His camera angles are low, and the wide shots portray the desperation of this world.
As Anatoly states, cinematography is about capturing the reality of the moment – whatever this might be.
Anatoly also proved that he can work with intense psychological drama and that his camera can also capture intimate, difficult subjects. Courage follows one actress, portraying a muslim woman, trapped in her apartment. She is terrified to go out as there is a terrorist attack against people of her community going on outside. The film is unfortunately very timely and realistic and is currently doing superbly well on the festival circuit. Anatoly received the Honorable Mention for Best Cinematography at the IndieX Film Festival and was nominated for Best Cinematography at the Indie Short Fest. He states that he is
delighted that award season has restarted after the long pandemic. There is nothing better than seeing the fruit of your work on a big screen and sharing it with an audience.
Anatoly will continue working on his craft as a cinematographer and camera operator. A dedicated filmmaker who has already accomplished so much, he wishes to keep pushing himself further. He’s interested in working in documentaries, continuing sports related content and narrative work. He’s also developing a feature film. For him curiosity and experience go hand in hand. “You never know until you try,” he states. In his case, patience, dedication and perseverance also yield prodigious artistry.