Producer Roman Medjanov’s Story of Medieval Bravery is An Ill Wind
.For all its action and swordplay, An Ill Wind is a film about the inner battle rather than the outer one. While producer/writer/director Roman Medjanov’s tale is imbued with visceral combat, the Trojan Horse in the story is the flawed uncertainty of its central character. His vacillation between self-belief and fear is not a common trait we see in a leader, making this film unique to its core. The film has resonated loudly in this unusual time we live in. An Ill Wind was awarded Best Action and Best Score at the Venice Film Awards (July 2020) and Best Action at the Golden Gate International Film Festival (October 2019). Perhaps most impressively, An Ill Wind received the Award of Excellence at the Best Shorts Competition, placing the film amongst other winners like Disney, The Weinstein Company, and the Oscar-Winning Shortfilm Mr. Hublot (2014). Medjanov’s production is as notable for the authenticity of its medieval setting as the pensive air within the story. An Ill Wind stands alongside similar films that present the humanity of those called to greatness in times of sustained turmoil.
The story begins in battle as a hesitant heir to the throne named Doran (played by Gilles Stricher) has witnessed the killing of his elder brother. Recognizing that the battle is lost, he flees in panic and with the understanding that he will now be called upon to lead. Doran’s mentor Byram (Neil Reidman of the multiple BAFTA-winning BBC series Doctor Who and Best Actor nominee at the American Black Film Festival for Hard Time Bus (2015)) follows him and attempts to convince him that his calling demanded an exit from the battle. It’s not until much later in the story that Doran proves himself in his own eyes by risking his life to save Bryam from a group of mercenaries whose leader (Lance Guest of such cult classics as Hugo Award-Winning film The Last Starfighter (1984), Jaws: The Revenge (1987), and Halloween II (1981)) is known as “Just a Hunter.” In the end, after deeper examination, Doran acknowledges that he must take on the responsibility that lies ahead, the responsibility of becoming king.
Composer Jordain Wallace Composer
Producing a film to this extent required a lot of creative ingenuity and unyielding persistence. The production had to be at a level where they could entice a caliber of talents such as the above mentioned Neil Reidman and Lance Guest, without whom the project most likely would not have been the same. But also facilitate locations and the necessary breadth for the elaborate stunts scenes. As Roman puts it, “The key to realizing vision is control, the more you have of it the closer you can get to what you originally envisioned. On paper that is fantastic, but in reality, being the sole person in these big roles is not that great as they all require your full attention and end up taking time away from each other. After months in pre-pro I realized that and brought on Danielle Thomas and Felicia Harder to help produce this alongside me, it became almost too much [...] Stunts were the biggest obstacle. We had to find the right amount of supporting stunt people with experience in sword fighting, have time in the schedule to train the two leads in stunt fight choreography and time in the schedule for all to block, practice, and perfect the fight scene before any cameras rolled. Safety was top priority [...] Luckily it all went smoothly thanks to the stunt team led by the meticulous work of Robert Cota.
One of the producing masterstrokes for Medjanov in this lauded film is not even visible, though it’s overwhelmingly present. Roman procured composer Jordain Wallace to create the musical identity of An Ill Wind. Describing to the composer the story and mood he wanted to achieve for this action based period piece, Medjanov was seeking a score that was both epic and personal. Wallace describes, “[...]Thematically we used two Motifs: one for the memory of Doran’s brother and one for Doran himself. Our goal for Doran’s theme was to transform it from meek (achieved with solo oboe and strings) to Heroic (played on lower strings, percussion, and horns), completing his arc. Doran’s brother's theme is played with solo vocals and cello to serve as a bittersweet memory. The brother’s theme also serves as the antagonists' motif throughout the film. [...] We were both inspired by Basil Poledouris’ epic score for Conan the Barbarian (1982). However, after watching the full film, we both realized that we needed to scale down the ensemble to be small, raw, and brutal.” At the recent Venice Film Awards, An Ill Wind proved this union of story and score to be a winning blend by taking the awards for Best Action and Best Score, “[...] He’s [Roman] a leader: extremely focused and dedicated to getting the job done. In the producer role, he seems to effortlessly lead our team through complex assignments and communicate with different departments while keeping his eye on the end goal. His skill and passion is evident when you see the final edit.” - Jordain Wallace.
Luncbreak_Roman and (L)GillesStricher(R)
An Ill Wind has been receiving thunderous praise in the festival circuit. It’s high production quality and magnetic performances belie the limited budget Medjanov concedes he had to work with. Finding that his film has become so embraced Roman relates with a laugh, “I am very happy that An Ill Wind has resonated and entertained so many. We worked so hard at it. It’s funny but one of my most vivid memories of making the film is the mosquitos. We filmed in California at Big Basin State Park. It was really the perfect location, except for the mosquitos which attacked everyone in the cast and crew, Neil Reidman in particular. There were takes where you’d see a mosquito sit on his face while he is trying his hardest not to smack it. As a result, there are some instances in the film where we had to digitally remove the mosquitos sitting on Neil. That’s the glamour of making movies I guess.”