“In the dark” – a story about a girl and her temptation

We all live under the oppression of certain foundations, breaking which we become the object of public censure. Director Roman Duneshenko wanted to play this game and take it to extremes. On the one hand, sex is a red flag for those who like to condemn. On the other hand, the church has always been extremely conservative. Roman pushed these elements together, creating a dramatic visual poetry.

While using the texture of religion, this film isn’t quite a manifesto against it. It’s more like a manifesto against any power that restricts the natural needs of a person and punishes him for his desires and actions that are harmless to society. And the theme of religion in it is only for the sake of visual aesthetics.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring ‘In The Dark’ to life?

I and the project team are people who are constantly shooting ads. A year ago we were tired of commercial video and we wanted to shoot something melancholic and dramatic. We wanted to combine visual beauty and deep meaning. The word “darkness” has become very important for us. I came up with the plot and images based on this word. In this video, everything is built on this word. We invented the story of a girl who sinned and who will be punished for it. To immerse myself in this theme, I studied the Bible, medieval engravings, and watched lectures on Christianity. On the one hand, it was very interesting, on the other, It was difficult, because I didn’t want to be superficial, so I dived deeper and deeper.

Knowing that the theme of divine presence would probably not be well accepted in Russia, what drove you to move forward with the project?

The theme of religion is a very controversial topic in modern Russia. This is due to the fact that the state has become very close to the church. In Russia, criminal cases are even brought up against someone who “offends the feelings of believers”! It’s hard to believe but an act of criticism of the church you do can backfire. But nevertheless, I don’t think that our film is a statement against the church or a criticism of religion. Our film is a reflection on how what we used to call “good”, “light”, “morality” has a downside and becomes a dictatorship, an overwhelming personality. In my opinion, the girl in this film did nothing for which she should be punished.

The film holds some impressive character designs, while the girl certainly shapes the story, those demons really leave a lasting impression. Can you tell us a little more about their concept?

As I said above, our film is about the transformation of “good” into “evil”/”light” into “dark”. And it was very important for me to visualize this transformation. Therefore, in the second part (after the girl is punished) priests should take a different appearance, more demonic. It was an interesting task and we immediately decided that glowing eyes were really what we needed. We have created special glasses with light bulbs that glow when turned on. And as soon as the whole crowd of priests put on these glasses, it was really impressive. There are a lot of things in the film that work for the atmosphere in the film – medieval engravings, wilting flowers, biblical quotes, and so on.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during the production?

The biggest challenge we had to face was how to shoot such an idea without a budget. Everyone who helped us did it completely free of charge, because this is a non-commercial personal project. We just didn’t have the money to pay everyone. However, a lot of people took part in the film – 130 people! We had some unforgettable days of shooting in the summer of 2020. And then there was a long post-production period, which lasted 9 months… It seems that no one expected this project to come out anymore! But it did happen, and I am very glad.