Son of a Rich is a mega-success. It is the all-time highest grossing Russian film in history. It has the required accolades such as a nomination for Best Feature Film at the APKIT Awards (2020) as well as for a Hauding Award (Best Global Motion Picture, Best Global Actor in a Motion Picture) but the truest measure of success is the movie going public voting with their money. Ask any filmmaker and they’ll tell you that they only aspect which rivals their desire to make great films is the desire to continue making great films; major ticket sales are the most important detail in this requirement. The theme of Son of a Rich is love, that of a father for his son and that of a man for a woman he begins to fall for. While this theme is timeless, the aesthetics of feature films are not. APKIT and Golden Eagle Award-Winning Director Klim Shipenko and the producers of Son of a Rich understood that bringing an artist like GC supervisor Ayrat Islamov onto the production raised the visual level of this film to an immense place. Throngs of movie fans were likely oblivious to Ayrat’s skill due to the fact that what he creates for the screen is so believable, one simply accepts it is reality rather than the extraordinary work of an artist skilled in visual manipulation.
The “son” in the title of this film and at the center of the story is a wealthy ne’er-do-well named Grisha (played by famed Serbian actor Milos Bikovic) whose father has decided that the only way to save his son from his path to prison was to remove his toxic self-entitlement. Creating an 18th century village and persuading Grisha to believe that he’d been transported there was the nearly impossible manifestation of his father’s story; one almost rivalled by doing so behind the scenes. Modern day Moscow is juxtaposed against this two-hundred-year-old village and proclaims the masterful costuming and direction of this film. The tissue that makes both worlds adhere to each other is the work of Mr. Islamov. Sometimes he conjures imagery for the modern world and sometimes for the ancient setting of two centuries ago, with equally astounding authenticity. The actors have to believe this world they inhabit in this film but so does the audience who watches it and Ayrat was a profound and necessary collaborator in achieving this goal. Grisha’s confrontation with a bear as he tries to exit the village is a declaration of Ayrat’s importance on this film. Director Klim Shipenko wanted a big, scary, aggresive bear for this scene but was disheartened to find all the bears brought to set were quite old and their appearance displayed as much. Islamov suggested that he be allowed to create a perfect 3D bear that would meet all of the director’s requirements. Although initially disbelieving this could be conjured through software, the director and producers of the film accepted Ayrat’s very first offering which appears in the film without any alterations. Other examples of his contributions to Son of a Rich are far more subtle than this, such as the computer screens in the command center at the village which monitors Grisha’s every move and interaction. The surveillance monitors which were blue screens during filming became composites of nearly a dozen elements each in the final version of the film. The space between ferocious bears and CCTV is very disparate but falls under the umbrella of visual artistry that Ayrat utilizes.
The work could be tedious at times; Ayrat notes that receiving materials from different computer graphics teams at various times tested his problem solving skills, but the reaction he experienced to the film eclipses any such hindrances. He imparts, “Standing on the stage with the other filmmakers at the premier of Son of a Rich and seeing such an enthusiastic response from the audience, it was joyous. You don’t hear that kind of applause at many premiers. We didn’t know that this film would become such a huge hit when we were making it, we all just wanted to make something really good. I think that’s what everyone wants, to do your best and to learn each time how to do it a little better. To have Son of a Rich make such history, it’s more than I could have hoped for!
Writer: Arlen Gan