Vladimir Vladimirovich is an idea for a fact-based television show. At its simplest level, the series follows Vladimir Putin’s career from his KGB years up to the moment he’s named president, with brief anthological scenes from his Soviet childhood also included.
More broadly, it explores Russia’s radical social, political, and economical transformation toward the end of the 20th century, which became one of the main geopolitical spectacles of its time. VV analyzes the critical moments of this narrative through the fate of the major players who experienced drastic ups and downs as the political landscape shifted, and millions of dollars began changing hands in the blink of an eye. Fortunes are built and destroyed practically overnight, but no one hits the jackpot quite like one very quiet assistant deputy--and ex-KGB officer--from St. Petersburg.
We are raising money to shoot a short, Russian-language film (with English subtitles) that will serve as proof of concept for the series, allowing us to pitch the show to networks. This excerpt covers a particularly pivotal moment in the narrative, when Putin is forced out of his position at St. Petersburg, which ultimately leads him to Moscow.
Dasha Gorin (writer/director) - I am a recent graduate of Northwestern University's Radio/Television/Film program and hold producer credits on over a dozen productions, including pilots, webseries, shorts, and a feature film. See below for my producing reel.
Elliot Nick & Thomas Molash (lighting and cinematography) - Thomas and Elliot are experienced cinematographers and gaffers who currently freelance throughout Chicago. Click here for Elliot's IMDb and here for Thomas's.
Malika Gumpangkum (sound) - Malika has held positions at NPR and TBS. She is currently collaborating on a feature film with a high-profile studio and holds a Master's degree in Sound Arts and Industries from Northwestern.
We have approximately 10 production heads currently attached, all sourced from Northwestern. We are also interested in recruiting from the DePaul, Columbia College, and/or other Chicagoland film communities.
The rise of authoritarianism and persecution of journalists has become tragically prevalent in recent years, and it's critical to understand the conditions that create the opportunity for these autocrats to flourish.
While this production requires someone who speaks and reads fluent Russian for comprehensive research and accurate representation, it is not necessarily a project that would be safe to produce in Russia. Furthermore, unlike existing biographies and documentaries about Putin--most of which focus on his presidency--this series has the potential to tell a complete and properly contextualized origin story, rather than providing a summary.
Current St. Petersburg governor Anatoly Sobchak is running for re-election against his very own ex-chief aide and deputy, Yakovlev. A disastrous televised debate reveals the numerous allegations leveled against Sobchak’s administration, including corruption by key officials at a time when many citizens are struggling with food shortages. Sobchak loses re-election, compromising Putin’s very comfortable city hall position, where he signed off on business licenses, essentially selecting the new business owners of privatized St. Petersburg.
In response, Putin and his friends retreat to their opulent lakeside dacha, soon to be known as "Kooperativ Ozero", where they hatch a plan to continue their activities and install Putin in Moscow.
The factual basis informing the plots and dialogue were sourced from archived news articles, footage, existing documentaries, scholarly publications, and investigative reporting from journalists including Vladimir Ivanidzhe, Nikolai Andruschenko, and Anna Politkovskaya, among others. Some of these individuals, including the latter two, were killed for their reporting, and their accounts will be prioritized.
Production will take place in Chicago over the last two weekends of February (16-17 and 23-24). Post-production will be fully completed by June 1st.
The budget has been calculated according to my previous experience and the scope of the project. The macro-breakdown is as follows. Please reach out to me if you'd like more details on the math.
- Cast payments, lead roles - $1,500. This corresponds to $125/day, which is the SAG minimum, for the 4 lead roles, according to how many days each of them will spend on set.
- Cast payments, other roles - $500. This includes incentives for extras, as well as stipends for smaller roles that do not require a full day of work.
- Crew payments - $5,000. This corresponds to $125/day for a 10-person crew shooting over 4 full days.
- Location rentals - $1,200. We anticipating requiring 3 location rentals, and this estimate is based on the current rates of existing prospects.
- Production and costume design - $800. Recreating historically accurate settings for this project will be challenging. The number is high to accommodate the vintage props and furniture rentals that will be required.
- Equipment rental, grip truck rental, and insurance - $2,100. This estimate reflects two weekends of production, with the expectation of using some personal inventory and discounts from friendly vendors. It includes camera, lighting, and sound gear, plus ancillary accessories.
- Feeding the cast/crew - $600. Film set days tend to run about 12 hours each, meaning at least 2 meals should be provided for the cast and crew, plus coffee. This estimate anticipates that we will receive some donations from local vendors.
- Kickstarter - $900. Kickstarter collects a 5% commission on successfully funded projects, plus a 3-5% processing fee.
Supplemental funding beyond the Kickstarter will be covered through personal financing (i.e. my savings from working 3 simultaneous part-time jobs throughout college).
I hope you'll consider donating and help this story be told! Please feel free to message me if you have any questions.
Risks and challenges
One of the biggest narrative challenges will be preserving historical accuracy, since the setting is late 90s Russia. We're partially dealing with this by adapting the script to take place all indoors. Additionally, we have a production designer and art director who are researching period-appropriate furniture, costuming, and set design, and we've budgeted appropriately.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)