Film graduate works on big film, music projects

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The last couple of months for Nikita Kleverov, a 2005 CSUN graduate who majored in film production, have been busy.

“Its been hectic,” Kleverov said. “I started doing work in the film industry while I’ve been going to CSUN, and building foundations to build upon later. Without having to juggle a school schedule, I managed to take a number of jobs that I wouldn’t be able to do before.”

Due to his busy schedule, his life only consists of working.

“Now that I’m done with CSUN, I basically have no life,” he said. “I work approximately 100 hours a week, seven days a week. All I do is work and occasionally eat and sleep.”

After graduating from CSUN, Kleverov was concerned about finding a job in the entertainment industry.

“It’s a pretty unstable industry, so there’s something in the back of my mind that worries me a little bit,” Kleverov said.

He worked on many projects since graduation. Kleverov edited a corporate promotional video for Ameriprise, American Express’ new retirement company.

“(The project) received a lot of acclaim from CEO’s and top ranking executives,” Kleverov said.

He was a production assistant for the Nine Inch Nails music video “Every Day is Exactly The Same,” off their latest album “With Teeth.”

He also worked in the art department for a Cost Plus World Market commercial, and was a key grip for an independent feature entitled “It’s A Good Day To Be Black And Sexy.”

He is currently juggling two different film projects, one being his own.

Kleverov also dipped his hand into the musical side of things, releasing the debut album of his rap project called “The Anything People,” with his rapping partner David Gemmill last August.

Kleverov can be found sitting in an office, editing a feature film directed by Philippe Caland.

The film is entitled “Ripple Effect” and stars Forest Whitaker (“Panic Room,”) Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”) and Minnie Driver (“Good Will Hunting”.)

“Believe (it) or not there was no nepotism involved. I answered an application for a (production assistant) job,” said Kleverov in how he got the job for the film. “I was hired on as PA, the next day I was promoted to Second assistant director, and halfway through the shoot I was switched over to assistant editor, and then by the completion of the shoot, I took over the editing position.”

When Kleverov was in the editing room, he spoke with Forest Whitaker. Whitaker was surprised at how young Kleverov was, and wondered if he was the editor, Kleverov said.

“They probably thought they knew what I was doing, and that I didn’t waste any time, and that’s why they promoted me to editor,” Kleverov said.

Kleverov’s latest film, “The Great Misfortune of Charles Proctor,” which he wrote, directed, co-edited, composed the music for, and was the art director for, is now in post-production.

Kleverov was one of the few students chosen in the Cinema and Television Arts Department to direct his or her senior film project. “The Great Misfortune of Charles Proctor” was his submission.

“It’s a good film program with good equipment,” Kleverov said, in reference to the CSUN CTVA department. “Sometimes it’s understaffed, but overall it’s pretty good.”

In describing, Kleverov as a director, CTVA film production option Steven Bello said Kleverov is relentless, direct and enthusiastic.Kleverov’s producing partner, Bello, has worked on film projects with Kleverov since the two were in high school.

“We share visions,” Bello said. “He brings the raw and I bring the order.”

Kleverov and Bello also run an independent film production company called Plainview Pictures. Their crew, known simply as the PVP team, consists primarily of CSUN CTVA majors, most of them graduating when Kleverov did.

The films generally made by the company are short films and experimental music videos.

“Directing is my favorite,” Kleverov said. “It’s just because I like to be in control of the vision.”

In trying to keep that vision through his short films, Kleverov follows very strict guidelines.

“It’s to preserve the quality of cinema in a time where any amateur can pick up a camera and make a movie,” Kleverov said. “I never settle with simple formulas that I see in today’s filmmaking. I work hard at my art and promise to deliver the highest quality product possible.”

Their last PVP release is entitled “Windless.” The short film is a series of vignettes with images ranging from a red cube isolated in the desert to a man feeding dead fish to an unknown person locked up in an underground chamber. The feeling of separation is contrasted to the final image of a father and son in loving embrace.

The film was screened at such festivals as the Imperial Beach Film Festival on Sept. 10, 2004 and the Nihilist Film Festival on Dec. 3, 2004, among others.

“Windless” was one of the films that opened the Poppy Jasper Film Festival on Nov. 12, 2004, and it screened again on the Sept. 13. At the end of the festival, it was awarded with Best Film/Jury’s Choice.

Kleverov’s new film “The Great Misfortune of Charles Proctor” is a departure from the experimental films of the past in that it goes for a more linear structure.

The film chronicles the life of a brilliant scientist, Charles Proctor, and the horrible disfigurement he suffers during a freak accident, thereby affecting him and the people close to him.

It only took a week to shoot the film, but for Kleverov and his principle crew of the film, it took two months of pre-production. It included many meetings, cell phone calls, an Internet-advertised garage sale/party to help pay for the film, and a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate Kleverov’s 21st birthday.

“It was the most challenging (thing) that I’ve been on were I’ve been in charge,” Kleverov said. “I’ve been on shoots that were harder but to be the commander in chief, it was pretty intense.”

Bello said that the film is now at a turning point where new sets are being built and new direction is being implemented to the film.

“The problem I had with the film was that it lacked my signature,” Kleverov said. The new direction is putting it back in.”

What has also made it harder for Kleverov is that he does not have much time since he is working on “The Great Misfortune of Charles Proctor” and editing “Ripple Effect” and other jobs.

“It’s been pretty difficult because it’s hard to juggle all these projects, and I think that Bello is pretty much mad at me,” Kleverov said. “I’ve decided to make an additional scene from the film. I’m basically waiting for a huge amount of money that I’m going to pour into the film. Everything is pretty much done. It’s going to be worth the wait when it’s done.”

Similar to the vision he has for his films, Kleverov does the same for his music.

“I played piano when I was a child for eight years,” Kleverov said. “I was brought up with music and I love it. I love making music.”

Kleverov put his musical skills towards his own film projects, composing the scores for several of them. He now puts the most attention to those skills toward his rap group The Anything People.

“I think content wise, rap music is the most interesting musical genre and has the most possibilities between sampling and recording live instruments,” Kleverov said. “You can really bend genres and create a whole sound that you couldn’t do with every single genre. I feel it’s a good place to express myself.”

According to the band’s website theanythingpeople.com, TAP makes music that goes past the fixed guidelines hip-hop music follows by having intricate sound design, beats and unique ideas brought through their lyrics. They follow their own rules and feel that they make music for themselves. Released on Aug. 9, 2005, their self-titled debut album released in record stores such as Amoeba Records and Tower Records.

“I have never heard a musical group that sounds like TAP
,” Kleverov said. “I think its pretty original and yet interesting to listen too and appealing to people as well.”

Because he works in two different fields, music and film, Kleverov is interested in doing both at the same time.

“I see it as a healthy balance of both,” he said.

Kleverov advises seniors majoring in film to make ties with the industry and give up any social life in order to become successful.

“I’m doing things that I didn’t think that I would be doing yet,” Kleverov said. I’m not surprised. I’m content at the moment.”

John Barundia can be reached at ane@sundial.csun.edu