Storytelling, finding your own voice and embracing change

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A short interview with Todor – Our Bulgarian producer

Todor worked his way up in this industry. From lending his voice to our most beloved sidekick, Donkey from Shrek, hosting a TV show for the Bulgarian National Television and then setting up his own production company, the diversity and repertoire of Todor never fails to amaze us.

Todor has a wide range of skills to manage the complexity of a film production. He is always ready to go the extra mile to accommodate last minute changes or to overcome the challenges that can arise on a shoot day.

We’re lucky to have him on our team.

We talked with Todor about what inspired him to become a producer,  the responsibility a producer carries in finding and shaping stories and about the most common misconceptions regarding video production.

How did you get in the industry and how did you become a producer?

I would say that my journey through the media stage of Bulgaria, has been quite adventurous and rewarding. I’ve graduated the National Theatre and Film Academy of Sofia in the year 2000 as a “puppet theatre director” and as probably most young artist around the world do, I started with various film and theatre related jobs to gain some experience and to keep some income actually coming in. My first steps were in voice over (which I still do occasionally, if an interesting project comes by). For the last 20 years I have dubbed multiple characters for the Bulgarian versions of many animated feature films. In other words, if you decide to watch an animated film in Bulgarian, you will most likely hear my voice as the Donkey (Shrek), as Marty (Madagascar), Elliot (Open Season), as Rango (Rango), Mr. Grinch (The Grinch), as Cat (Cat in the Hat), Mumble (Happy Feet), Crane (Kung-Fu Panda) and some more. So, the fascination with film was already there, I just needed to find a way to start telling stories, not only adding the voice on top.

In the years between 2000 and 2007 I’ve been performing at a local theatre, directing kid’s shows, organizing tours around Europe and Asia with performances and workshops for children and even hosted a TV show for the Bulgarian National Television. I started working for a local production company in 2007 and for the next 12 years directed and produced talk shows, game programs, TV comedy series and reality formats for local and international TV channels. In 2019 I’ve decided to set up my own production company and this is how Adventure Films was born – a small team of professionals with shared passion for movie making, always ready to tell the next good story.  

What kind of mindset is required for this role?

Great question and not an easy one. To answer it correctly, I would separate producing in-house projects (created and developed by our own team) and providing filming services to foreign producers, as I believe the mindset needed in these two cases, differs significantly.

Producing your own projects of course requires the full set of management skills a producer needs to have, however in this case, you are the “captain of the ship” – you make your decisions and you follow them, for better or worse. You carry a great deal of responsibility, however your decisions affect yourself and your team only.

When you provide production services to another team, the situation is a little different. High flexibility is required to adapt to the style of working of the visiting crew. Greater responsibility is carried, as it’s not your own project you are putting at risk, in case of a mistake or miscalculation. You have less time to prepare and to quickly start “wearing someone else’s shoes” – planning carefully, anticipating possible surprises, always having a back-up plan and be ready for the unexpected at any time. Providing production services is challenging, so be ready for the challenge!

And all of the above in fact sums up the beauty and fascination this trade brings – meeting different teams each time, working with top professionals and being able to constantly learn new thing, by keeping up with the international filming community. Exchanging ideas and experiences with creative individuals, whom I might have never met otherwise. Having the ability to present my country in the best possible way and also being able to explore it in a different perspective in the process. Contributing to the wider world of media business, not just locally. Filmmaking is not an individual art and being part of the bigger picture is immensely rewarding.          

Do you believe your role influences the stories you work on?

Of course I believe in the role of local producers. Our work is our personal contribution to the visiting project and the way we do it, our attitude, greatly affects the outcome and the overall look and feel of the story, for that matter. Being passionate about what you do, is important in every business and even more so in filming, as our passion always shows on screen. At least I believe so.

What`s the worst thing that ever happened during a shoot and how did you sort it out?

Nothing bad can happen when working with us, so nothing to share here. (kidding)

Of course there are hundreds of things that could go wrong in our line of work and our primary goal is to always be one step ahead and make sure all risks are well managed.

We had a “situation” on a TV series shoot not that long ago. The filming was split between two cities with one for company move. So, on that day, when the whole crew was moving to the new location, we got a call from the local municipal office that our permit for the whole city has been revoked, with no reason given. The whole crew of about 100 was just arriving to the city with no permit to start filming… After the initial shock, we had to use all our skills and connections, first to understand the reasons for the cancellation and later, for finding the quickest solution… It took a sleepless night and an urgent meeting with the mayor to finally be able to start filming on the next morning. That’s production for you!

What did you like and dislike about working with us?

I like working with you, as this position gives me greater opportunity for networking and access to more interesting projects, thanks to the reputation built by Storytailors throughout the years. The communication is great and the cooperation is quite straight forward, which is not always the case in TV and film production world.

I wouldn’t say there is something in particular, which I dislike working with Storytailors, it is more of a general mindset throughout the industry, which I would be happy to change, together with you.

In most cases we are referred to as “fixers”, which is right on the spot, as we really need to constantly fix everything, keeping the production running… However, there is a certain misconception that a “fixer” is usually just a person with some local knowledge, speaking decent English and not a TV or film professional, able to contribute a lot more to the project, if used with full potential.

Thank you and let’s film our next adventure together!

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