Suro Jr. is a graduate of the Gerasimov Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK) as a screenwriter. He has worked primarily in television, even writing a pilot series for TV channel STS and had helped in writing various television shows. He made his short film debut with the true story-based Thursday, which has recently been submitted as an Oscar contender for Best Short Film.
World Film Geek had the chance to talk with Suro Jr. about his film.
Thank you so much for talking about Thursday. I thought this was a great short film that seems to have a message and the performances were excellent.
Thank you so much! I wanted to make a film that brought a sense of real emotions. I wanted to visually bring emotion into the film and I’m really glad you enjoyed it.
Before we get into the film, can you tell everyone what inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I actually grew up in the industry. My mother was a set decorator and is now an artist. My father worked as an assistant director. So, I basically grew up on the sets of films. My father stopped working in 1991 when the Soviet Union had split. He is now a businessman. So for filmmaking, we had a period where we didn’t really get involved in making films at all, except for my mom, who continued working in films until 2000. Finally, around 2001, I decided to get into filmmaking because I had always loved to do movies. You do what you love, or you will do something you won’t enjoy it. So, I graduated and started out as a writer and now I have this film.
Let’s get into Thursday. What inspired you to write the film and make this your directorial debut?
I started as a writer for some major companies and the inspiration for this film came from an interview I saw with the mother. I didn’t like the answer and I felt confused by what was said. So, I wanted to make a film about how she felt. I did some research on the film and spent a few months writing it. It is a very complicated situation.
The film had excellent performances, notably by Elmira Mirel as the very concerned mother. What was it like working with the cast?
Most of the cast were some of Russia’s top actors, but the casting director found Elmira by accident. We did a test screening with her and she was amazing. The reason is because she showed such pure emotion in the character. It felt natural. Working with the other actors, I didn’t have to give them much direction because they were so established. In terms of Elmira, I only had to give her little direction because she just had this natural ability on an emotional level to play this mother who was concerned about her son.
I felt the movie gave a message perhaps about raising awareness towards the health care situation in Russia. Was that something you wanted to bring out in terms of the film?
That’s very interesting you said that. As a writer, I tend to look more into the depths of the characters and I wasn’t looking for a message in terms of the film. I did want to focus on the mother and the doctors with their different viewpoints. I felt that the film was more about emotions but with a serious situation. For instance, the emotion when the bad doctor talks to the good doctor about the recommendations for the child and the bad doctor said what if something happened if she were to follow the advice. Who would be responsible?
That’s one thing that struck me. Even though the doctors followed protocol in the hospital, there were times I noticed they felt a bit conflicted about their situation.
Exactly! When the mother tried to get through to the doctor and they suggested having her drive her son to another hospital, it’s like what if he died on the way. The mother would never forgive herself in that were to happen. So, it was more about the emotional level and conflict in the situation.
I showed this film to some of the staff at a children’s hospice to see how they would react. And it was completely quiet! They felt like this was totally real. You don’t know what’s going to happen, you don’t know how things will turn out. It’s something that’s real and is very emotional. What did you think about the mother’s reaction in the end?
Oh wow! That part was quite surprising. I mean, if I was in that situation, I mean I would be unhinged but I personally wouldn’t go to that level she did. I would have filed a lawsuit at the least. But, you can’t help but feel for the mother.
Exactly, it’s the feeling we all would probably have if that had happened and I wanted to bring that feeling on a visual level.
This was a very beautiful film. Are you planning any new projects at the moment?
I have two projects that I’m currently developing. One is another short film that’s going to be shot in black and white. I’m hoping to begin that film early next year. The second will be my first feature length film that I want to shoot at 96 FPS. I think technology today is important in films. I remember the film Gemini Man and it was shot at 120 FPS which is amazing. I want to do something on a technological level. So I’m hoping by the end of 2020 to do my feature film debut.
Anyone who wants to see a well-made film with a message should definitely check out Thursday. I hope it does get an Oscar nod as it deserves it. Thank you so much Suro for talking about the film.
Thank you so much for having me!
A special Thank You goes to Liz Rodriguez at EMR Media and Suro Jr. for making this interview possible.