Anice Jee – actually I change my name once in a while. Everyone who knows me from my early 20-s period of life, would call me Nis Gi. According to my passport I’m Anisiya, but I never spell it this way. They have written it with a mistake. The problems of transliteration from cyrillic. It’s simply Anisia. My Indian classmates had their own variation. They called me Anishia. My first cat had the same problem. Everyone called him differently.
I have two birthdays: February 27, 1986 and August 8, 1988. Please, don’t ask me why.
Bushwick. East Bushwick. I call it wild Bushwick. It’s getting tamed so fast tho!
It’s a quote from «Searching for Sugar Man» movie. And it had an absolutely different meaning there. But who cares. I just took it out from the context and it sounds great like that:
Nothing beats reality.
Tell me about yourself
I’m a visual artist of a very wide range starting from tattoos and ending up with art installations. However my main field of occupation is filmmaking. I pay my bills by doing cinematography and video editing. My back ground is in journalism and street photography. So basically I moved from still pictures to moving images and from information to storytelling.
Did you know that you will become a filmmaker when you were a kid?
First time I remember myself saying “when I grow up I’ll be..” was approximately at the age of 4. I said that I wanted to be a tram machinist in the morning hours, sell bread rumps during the day and dance ballet at night. now I don’t feel excited about any of these jobs, though they tell something about me. I still tend to have diverse occupations and unpredictable work schedule. At the age of ten I wanted to be a movie director, at 12 I became more specific and wanted to do animation. at that time digital video already existed, but wasn’t widespread. I shot short stories with clay characters and made animation frame by frame shot on a tape camera using the function to record 1/8 of a second. I also reviewed my family travel videos and tried to create short travel stories doing linear editing from camera to VHS cassettes. While telling this I just realized that even at that inceptional step of filmmaking I wasn’t really into fiction and working with actors. it’s been always documentary style or something artistic. At 14 I decided that I’m not smart enough to pass the exams in film school and decided to apply to school of journalism because writing always seemed to me the easiest thing in the world to do. easier could be only biology. however the visual perception took over written speech anyway and I got graduated as a photojournalist.
So, how did you move to filmmaking then?
Wait, that wasn’t the end of my educational adventures. for some reason (or being honest absolutely with no reason) the Indian Centre of Cultural Relationships decided that I deserve to get a full scholarship to do a Master program at the University of Hyderabad (India). I’m a curious creature, so I couldn’t say no to this quite unusual in educational sense destination. I had to stay within the same field of studies which means mass media and Communications, but this time I decided to specialize in Radio&Video production. if I have to choose a soundtrack for this period of my life I would probably go with Asher Roth’s “I love college”. hard to say if I learned anything about filmmaking, but I definitely learned a lot about life, different cultures, stereotypes, religion, sociology, and survival. Life in India is unbearably easy and harsh at the same time. I was ready to kiss the doors of Duty Free at the airport when I flew away. And I cried when I had to return back to Hyderabad from holidays. But I never regretted that I went through this.
After 2 year I finally returned back to Moscow being completely overdosed by India and ready to open a new chapter, but for an obvious reason, the job that I could find was also related to India. I became a part of an international project telling all kind of news about Russia to the whole world. My target audience was Indian. They were really interested in economics and buying russian weapon, i didn’t quite share their interests, and after a while made a move to the multimedia department. Now my responsibilities were to deliver multimedia content to the whole range of countries and nationalities which was much more fun and a little bit closer to filmmaking.
As a part time job I shot music videos for my friends and tried myself for the first time as a documentary filmmaker. I did news video pieces before, but a film, even if it’s short, is a completely different form of media. It’s not just a piece of information delivered to the viewer, it’s a material for thinking.
At film festivals I started to pay close attention to documentary sections. Interesting, that the same shift has happened in book reading. I suddenly became a big non-fiction fan. All this naturally led to thoughts of going back to school. I already knew how to make video, and i knew that the only one way of getting better was to shoot more and more. What I didn’t know was what to do with movies after they are done.
That’s why you came to New York?
Well, yeah. First I applied to a documentary film school in Moscow. But they didn’t want me there. I guess I had to many colourful braids on my head when I came for the interview. According to academic prejudices left from soviet era someone who has an unusual look can’t be a good student.
What it’s like to be an artist in New York compared to Moscow and to other places.
If you try to make a simplistic picture, New York consists 50/50 of artist and financiers. that’s a perfect combination. moreover, new york is very diverse. diversity always leads to openmindness. i can explain you why. people tend to be conformists, it’s sad, but it’s fact. if there is a strongly distinct majority, it’s hard to differ from it. However if everyone is different, the concept of a single rightness fades aways, people became more acceptive and more confident.
If you talk specifically about filmmaking, then they pie is equally shared between LA and NYC. LA is famous for producing films that become mainstream not only in the U.S. but all over the world whereas NYC is much more popular among independent filmmakers. again, if we create a simplified equation, it’s gonna look like mainstream=craft, independent=art
Craziest story about New York?
Subway in New York is crazy. Maybe I’m spoiled by Moscow subway. it’s clean and pretty. and the trains run every minute. In new york.. okay, i get that the tracks for the same trains aren’t the same on weekends and weekdays and on day time and nighttime. but it’s still hard to get used that you can wait 15 min for a train, then it takes you two stops down, then gets stuck for another 15 minutes, and then runs in the opposite direction bringing you to the same stop you started from. or that you see in west side a train that supposes to run in east side. better not to question and just walk if you really need to be somewhere on time.
What makes you a good editor?
First at all the ability to focus. it might take me a while to start editing, i hate this procrastination stage, but if I started i’m 100% into it. i don’t look at my phone, i don’t eat, don’t use the bathroom. I turn into a robot. Secondly, I have well developed logical thinking trained by doing math exercises. editing is like a puzzle. you need to put all the pieces together in a right order and do it as faster as possible.
There are always several ways how to make an action in the editing app. None of them is wrong. But one might be more relevant than another one, which results time saving.
What makes you a good cinematographer?
I remember someone once said «That’s the fiesta of composition!» after watching my movie. That’s on point. I have a strong feeling of composition. I think it was developed while i worked as a photographer. Photography means fixed frame. you can crop it if you don’t like the given ration. but the objects will remain on the same positions anyway. And of course a general interest to art history is very important. In the end a video is just an evolving cave painting.
What inspires you on a daily basis?
I find inspiration everywhere. I would say that the ordinary life is more inspirational than the high end art pieces at some point. When you see someone else’s piece of art that you like, it’s very hard not to cross the line between getting inspired and developing the idea to a new level instead of copying the style. Whereas when you turn into art what you see in real life, it can’t be a repetition of someone else’s art by default. It’s your interpretation of a real life.
People take too many things for granted. But there is beauty in everything: the pattern of the fence, funky stories that you unintentionally ear dropped at a grocery store, the subway map, the glimpse of glass. Basically, any long walk is inspirational because you get to see to many things on your way if you only look around.
What are your future plans?
To change the world, of course. And what’s the other popular answer.. to loose some weight?
Any advices for aspiring artists/filmmakers?
Haters gonna hate you. keep calm and carry on.