What makes a scene work?

Does it lie in the carefully executed plans of a film’s cast and crew? Or does the magic rest upon fortuitous mistakes, spontaneity and improvisation? What steps must be taken to convey your vision and intent? Watch our video series, Frame of Mind, to get answers to these questions and more from commentators working in a wide variety of areas in production who’ll guide you through clips from their films, in their own words. Moviemakers and film fans: Grab your notepads, popcorn, or both, and press play.

Russia: Lately, it’s the first word in American government agencies’ ongoing game of geo-political chess. In director Alexander Nevsky’s old school-styled action thriller Black Rose, Russians’ literal and figurative presence in Los Angeles is equal parts menacing and heroic. Nevsky, who stars in the film as Russian law enforcement Major Vlad Kazatov and has been billed as something of a “Russian Schwarzenegger,” allies his protagonist with L.A.P.D. Captain Dalano (Robert Davi) and Detective Emily Smith (Kristanna Loken) in their pursuit of a mysterious Russian serial killer who preys upon young women, leaving only a black rose as a clue at each scene of his crimes.

In the exclusive videos below, Nevsky walks through two scenes from the film that come out guns blazing, loaded with plenty of action choreography, carefully plotted and paced beats and alternately cramped and wide-open interior and exterior locations.

Shot in the heart of Moscow at the urging of executive producer Sheldon Lettich, the bank robbery sequence in the first clip, Nevsky explains, made use of the real fear of some of his extras and the on-site consultancy of Russian police officers, covering the ground of its climactic shootout with a four-camera set-up. “Try as hard as you can to push for a huge scene in your movie,” he advises. “You have to have a big scene in the beginning of your movie. It will sell your movie.” Nevsky also comments on the lighting of his bar sequence in the second clip, as well the importance of blending several genres to increase the effectiveness of its atmosphere.

What did you take away from Nevsky’s frame of mind? Let us know in the comments below. MM

Black Rose opened in theaters April 28, 2017 and on VOD and DVD May 2, 2017, courtesy of ITN Distribution. Video courtesy of ITN Distribution.