Beloved SVA instructor, Igor Sunara is an awarding-winning director and cinematographer who has worked with Whitney Houston, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Rod Stewart, Bon Jovi, Notorious BIG, and Dolly Parton, among others. Now his first feature, Finding Julia, opens in New York and five other cities on December 1. Here, Igor talks about his process at the helm of a big production.
Please see Finding Julia’s website for more information: http://findingjulia.net
I am happy to announce that my feature directorial debut, Finding Julia, premiered in Los Angeles at the SparkLight cinema in Culver city, on Saturday Oct 28th, 2017 at the Asian World Film Festival. The strong cast includes Ha Phuong in the leading role of Julia, Andrew McCarthy, Kieu Chinh and Richard Chamberlain.
Finding Julia is the story of a beautiful young Vietnamese actress who lost her mother when she was quite young, and is haunted by the fear of losing the one person in the world she can trust – her father. It stars Ha Phuong, a singer and TV celebrity in her native Vietnam, as well as Andrew McCarthy and Richard Chamberlain. We shot in New York and Viet Nam.
Working as both Director and DP was a challenging task – fine-tuning performances while simultaneously overseeing the visuals. Actually, my initial intention was not to DP and direct at the same time, but Ha Phuong insisted – as a cinematographer I am used to making actors look their best. Long days shooting in one of New York’s coldest winters were hard. Fortunately we could call on cinematographer, and SVA graduate, Mike Simmonds, and later, Seamus Tierney.
I sought a balance between visual language and performance that could help communicate the psychologically intense subject matter subtly. I designed a “grammar” for the film’s subtext using the camera as an expressive – rather than a recording — tool. The camera became another actor, revealing her inner world visually in ways beyond words.