“Anything You Lose” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Irina Vodar

2024 February 9

“Anything You Lose” (EXCLUSIVE) Interview with Irina Vodar

-Who is Irina Vodar?

I like to think of myself as a storyteller. When I was a kid, I liked to tell scary bedtime stories. It was a gift that made me friends in any setting. I am a film graduate of VGIK (Russian National Film School) and Columbia College, Chicago, U.S. Film Department. My path in entertainment began with Runandgun! Inc. startup in Chicago IL, developing “Duelin’ Firemen!” videogame for 3DO platform in exchange for food and shelter.

At Runandgun! I met a pleiad of iconic American stars; Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Nancye Ferguson, Timothy Leary, Rev. Ivan Stang of the Church of the SubGenius and Rudy Ray Moore, the father of modern rap. My first music video 3D collab “I’ll stick around” was for Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters, following the dissolution of Nirvana at Kurt Cobain’s passing. My newfound set of skills landed me a job in TV advertising in New York City, and shortly after started my career with ABC News.

I am a filmmaker, art director, graphic designer and a former 3D artist, with over twenty years’ experience in film and Broadcast Design. Distinctions range from the 30th Daytime Emmy Award Nomination, to The George Foster Peabody Award, and others.

I always had a passion for filmmaking. I’ve written, produced and directed two indie full-length documentary films during the span of my TV career. My debut doc feature Miss GULAG, produced in association with Neihausen-Yatskova Films on a beauty pageant in a Russian prison for women, premiered at Berlinale 2007 (available on Amazon Prime). The film was praised for its humanistic and compassionate portrayal of the women, as well as its insight into contemporary Russian society.

My second feature doc Anything You Lose, premiered in Los Angeles and New York City in the Fall 2023, and has already garnered 37 awards from 41 international film competitions, and just as many nominations. This breakthrough came as a phenomenal surprise. Anything you Lose has been in the works for 14 years, and is my most difficult, personal, and beloved film. It is a contemporary tale for grownups in a documentary film genre, shot verité style for seven years, and digested and edited in another seven. Once upon a time, there lived Eddie & Irina, and they didn’t have children…

An insight into hopes and dreams, addiction and isolation of ReproTech-enmeshed reality, Anything You Lose is an action-packed adventure of two individuals on the road to finding happiness, meaning of life, and joining in matrimony through a child conceived via ReproTech.

Anything You Lose is funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), a recipient of Best Feature Documentary and Best Educational Film Awards from the 8 And HALFilm Awards, among others.

-What inspired you to become a Filmmaker?

I loved the spirit of movie making since I was six years old, when I first saw a film crew working on location. They were filming a period action scene on a rooftop of a house in my courtyard, in the historical city center of Moscow.

…I was sitting by the window looking out at the courtyard. Suddenly, I noticed a man running across a rooftop, balancing on the ledge. He got to the middle of the roof, stopped, took out a revolver and pointed it to the right, then to the left, and then directly at me. I slowly slid below the windowsill for safety and hid there till my parents found me and sent me playing outside in the courtyard.

I stayed close to my building entrance, concerned about the gunman. There, a beautiful blond lady approached me and asked if I saw the film crew. The film crew!!! At that moment, a thousand bells rang in my head. I was spellbound. The next day, they filmed in my building on the staircase landing, and I stayed enchanted for what seemed like an entire 8-hour shift. With every new take they filmed, I took another little step towards the landing. When I was finally right in front of them, I was invited to play in the scene, and ran away. It would have been so blissful, life could end. The act of filmmaking became my secret passion.

Years later, when circumstances made me take up the camera and set it as a shield collecting data of my daily existence, I wrote with that original zeal of a child about bitter aspects of my grown-up life, sustaining leverage, addressing issues and sharing highlights I found to be most valuable, eye-opening, and helpful, things that I thought would resonate.

-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?

All arts come from storytelling by the campfire. It is emotional communication that activates both intellect and visceral receptors. The best storytelling archetype of all times is the journey of A Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. Anything You Lose follows that storytelling structure into the underbelly of the Whale, survives, and comes back stronger and wiser to tell the tale, truthfully, and with some street credit.

The beauty of humanity is that we are spontaneity inclined. Ideas penetrate our minds and shift the way we see the world. Each generation chooses to uphold the liberties of progress or fall into conservative retention. Collectively, we see and understand the world, collectively we shift awareness by recognizing a relatable experience that’s binding. All great works of art elicit an emotional reaction and therefore shape the viewer’s world, expanding understanding of ourselves and the place we live in. So, in that sense, every work of art perceived creates the world anew for each exploring individual. And we are many.

-What would you change in the world?

I have great reverence for the mechanics of the universe and would consider notes to the Creator as a form of hubris. But addressing people, I would share a message of unity and perseverance. We are at a boiling point in history where polarities are once again clearly defined, and battles rage over the values of the new millennium. Is it going to be a one-size fits all, or is it going to be a multi-polar world? I believe both individuals and countries have the right to exercise the freedom to choose. I promote establishing connection with the living source in each and every one of us, the source of joy and perseverance that sees us through the trying times, and balances the light and dark within, accepting who we are and moving forward. It is a process that is taking place right now in many, particularly since the COVID-19 period of isolation. There are new voices in the indie film community now leaning towards daily spiritual practice. It takes being honest with yourself and clearing out outdated programming that does not serve us or limits us in any way, granting dignity to every human effort.

…”re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.” -Walt Whitman.

-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?

I think in essence it will always be the Hero with a Thousand Faces. We need the stories that can teach us how to overcome the challenges we face in life, achieve success, and enjoy a lifetime of merit.

Technically, I’m sure it will take new forms. It may be the cerebral experience of uploading programs that will look and feel like guided interactive dreams, similar to my childhood stories, with tactile elements build in or simulated directly into the prefrontal cortex. The merge of Science and Biology has just begun.