He is the filmmaker of Mute Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Sergey Sharovatov: Hello, Oscar. My name is Sergey Sharovatov. I am from Moscow, Russia. In 2019 I graduated as a professional actor of theater and cinema from VGIK – Russian State University of Cinematography named after S. A. Gerasimov. At the moment I have more than 40 roles in Russian full-meter movies, short-meter movies and TV-series.
My short movie “Mute” based on Stephen King’s story “Mute” is my director’s debut.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Sergey Sharovatov: I never intended to become a director, but after reading the novel “Mute” I realized that I really wanted to play the main role in this story. The fact is that I have experienced an almost similar story in my life. I mean that the main character also got through the betrayal of his woman. Of course, there weren’t such tragic consequences as in Stephen King’s story, but still I lived through quite strong emotions at that time. Immediately a picture formed in my mind and I realized that if I gave the direction to another person who hadn’t been in a similar situation, then the film would turn out to be different. So I had to become the director of this film not from directorial ambitions, but involuntarily, in order to convey on the screen exactly what I felt myself.
SKSM: When did you make Mute? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Sergey Sharovatov: It took almost a year to make the film. In January 2021 we received a contract, in January 2022 Mr. King got the finished DVD.
The peculiar fact about our movie is that we made it with the blessing of the Orthodox Priest Nikolay Konyukhov who read the script, believed in us and helped to adapt the dialogues of the priest with the main character to be common to the Russian mentality. He also blessed us for the film and gave his operating temple for the whole night for filming. For me, as an Orthodox Christian, it was very important to make this film without going against God. I wanted to film confession scenes in a real Russian Orthodox church to show how this story of Mr. King would take place not in a Catholic church in the USA but in modern Russia.
For a very long time we have been looking for a priest who would give his blessing for the filming of this movie. We did not start filming till we found a priest who would bless us and give us his church for filming.
I made the film entirely at my own expense. My friends and acquaintances helped me a little, for which I am very grateful to them. The film turned out to be very expensive for me in every sense, including finances. Of course, the film could cost two or three times more if not my friends who were filmmakers, but people I didn’t know worked in my team.
SKSM: How come you picked Mute to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Sergey Sharovatov: “Mute” immediately hooked me with its plot and events. This is the strongest work not only in terms of dramaturgy and script, but also in terms of human morality. Indeed, there are a lot of controversial issues for each person in this story. All of us experience intense hatred and resentment when we are betrayed and as a rule we want revenge. Revenge and hatred are the strongest dark feelings of a person, which overlap even the feeling of love. Most of us give up implementing our revenge because it is a violation of the law at least, and the commandments of God at most. But the fact of the matter is that our sin does not begin with sin itself, but with the thought of it.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Sergey Sharovatov: I learned about this program by accident from fellow filmmakers. Then I googled and saw that there were cases in Russia when my young colleagues acquired the film adaptation rights of Stephen King stories and made films. When I submitted my request through Mr. King’s official website I wasn’t even sure that I would be approved in the USA because I am not a directing student or graduate. I wrote that I was an actor by education, I had a little production experience and I really wanted to make a film based on this story. Three days after sending the request I received the contract.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Sergey Sharovatov: Yes, there was. We filmed two shifts by car in September on the Yegoryevskoye Highway of the Ramensky District, Moscow area. There was a watermelon market on the side of the highway next to us. So, early in the morning on the second shift, we were waiting for the arrival of part of our film crew when suddenly a car drove up to the market next to us and two big guys jumped out of it. The watermelon seller saw them and ran straight into the forest. One guy ran after him and the second one approached the seller’s car, kicked it and broke off the side mirror. The first guy returned and said that the watermelon seller had run far away and couldn’t be caught up. They got into their car and drove away. Our operator Vitya Antonov said that it looked like a local criminal showdown and we decided to move to another parking pocket with a different watermelon market. But there was no seller at the new point. Here we were, unpacking, a cool jeep drove up to us, the window opened and the guy, who had kicked the car of the first seller of watermelons, looked at me point-blank and asked: «Is that your market? What are you doing here?» I immediately replied that the market wasn’t mine and we were just making a movie. I explained that we had wanted to shoot at the first watermelon market, but after their showdown we decided not to interfere with them and moved here. At this moment all the car windows were rolled down, smiles appeared on the faces of big guys and they said; “Are you really filming? Can we film with you too?” It was a pity that we did not have scripted roles for them, their faces were very interesting and textured. I explained to these young people that there were no more roles, and they were not offended. They offered us to take all the watermelons, but we refused. After that they wished us good luck, said “God help you” and left. At that moment it seemed to us that it was not 2021 but 1991.
SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?
Sergey Sharovatov: Of course, this restriction on the open distribution of the film on the Internet in the contract with Mr. King is frustrating, since I would very much like to see the films of my colleagues from all over the world and show my own film to the widest possible audience and not just the jury of world festivals. It’s a pity to shelve the movie. But these are the current conditions of the program. I think that it would be a wonderful solution for King’s fans from all over the world if the film appears on YouTube after all screenings at festivals.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Sergey Sharovatov: I have received so far only ratings from my family members and close friends to whom I have shown the film. None of them have yet spoken badly about the film. We finished the film less than a month ago. Just this week I sent it to several international festivals. Now we are waiting for news from them.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Sergey Sharovatov: There are no specific plans. Time will pass and we will see where our movie will take part.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Sergey Sharovatov: To be honest, I never considered myself a Stephen King’s fan. To my surprise, already in adulthood I discovered that «The Shawshank Redemption», «The Green Mile» and «The Lawnmower Man», the films I liked so much as a child, were his hand business.
SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?
Sergey Sharovatov: No, we didn’t have personal contact with Mr. King. I don’t know if he saw our movie.
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Sergey Sharovatov: I already chose the story that I really wanted to shoot. I am happy about it. So far, there are no plans to shoot anything else.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Sergey Sharovatov: I act in Russian films and serials. Actor is my main job. It fills my whole life. “Mute” is my directorial debut. I don’t have any plans to do anything else. Let’s see if the audience likes my first film.
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Sergey Sharovatov: Before I became an actor, I got a Ph.D. in Economics, taught Economics to students at the University and worked in the Moscow office of an American real estate and investment company for two years.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Sergey Sharovatov: I’d like to say a few words about the features of our adaptation of the story “Mute” and its film adaptation. In our film we tried to show how this story would take place not in the USA, but in modern Russia.
The main idea of the film lies in its Russian title: “Be careful what you wish for.” I would also add here “Beware of your thoughts and words that you pronounce anywhere.” Everything that we think about and what we desire can become a reality, since our thoughts are material. This Russian adaptation of the story “Mute” by Stephen King is about the repentance of a person in his thoughts and words. My task is to once again draw the viewer’s attention to the fact that our thoughts and words create our life and we need to be more attentive to them.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Sergey Sharovatov: I would like to add one important idea: “Art knows no boundaries.”
Despite the fact that we all live in different countries and speak different languages, we are united by music, literature and cinema.
In our case, you and I are united by a common love for the stories of Mr. King and for films based on his stories. It is wonderful that because of that love we are talking now.