Short synopsis: Cops find an illegal fighting club, which sets a championship with one rule: you win if your opponent is dead. They send one cop undercover to find out who the leader is. He pretends to be a bettor, but others soon discover that he’s a cop and start fooling him.

Pre-production: September 2015 — February 2016

Production & post-production: February 2016 — May 2016

Release Date: 25 May, 2016

Budget: 230€

Equipment: Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera,

Rode Microphone, Green bean Microphone


So, “Murphy’s Law” was my 7th short movie. I was bored of working with the same small crew (tho after that movie I realized how good it is to work with people you know well), so I decided to challenge myself and shoot something with my classmates, something we could remember for years after school. My mother told me in the very beginning that I would not be able to manage all this myself, but I was stubborn and went for it.

A shot from the “Revenge” scene

The pre-production period took about 5 months. I started writing the script in September, it has changed a lot; so when I was asking people to act and telling them the idea and synopsis, it was almost completely different from what we were shooting in the end. All the storyboards I was making the day before the shootings. We had 14 scenes (which is freaking a lot), not a lot of time (because it was the last year of school, and we have exams in the end), 12 actors (all boys except one girl), and some extras. Honestly, I started hating scenes with extras. I was the director, the cinematographer, the sound guy, and producer at the same time.

I started looking for a location which could look like a boxing club. First, I wanted to rent a car garage for that, but we were waiting so long, that the advertisement disappeared, and we had about two weeks before the shootings. I started looking for a place everywhere, found some pictures online from an old factory in Moscow which now has some kind of loft spaces. I found a number. My parents were away for a few days, so with my trembling hands I dialed the number and explained to the guy that I’m shooting a movie and would like to take a look at the place. On the next day I told my sister that I’m going to check out the place for a few hours and went there. He showed me the place which was okay, but when he told the price, it was not okay anymore. Thankfully, the guy was normal and showed me another room, with a stage and a balcony. The price was about 14 euros per hour. We needed at least 6 hours, so I had to go with that.

On the set of the “fight club”

Before the first day of shooting when we were supposed to shoot all the fighting scenes, one of the actors (who was asked a long time before think about the movements and rehearse them) texted me and told that he wouldn’t come. I was so pissed off, and finally we agreed that he would come for at least two hours. There were a lot of people to bring there, lots of shots, and limited time. At the time the guy was supposed to be on set, we tried to call him, and found out that he’s only about to take a taxi. Great. I asked another friend of mine to quickly block the fighting scenes. We were really behind the schedule. The guy finally came and, of course, he wasn’t prepared. So instead of 4 scenes we only shot 1,5. And I was exhausted. After this day I had a choice to leave it. But on the next week we shot another scene, and I decided to move on.

A shot from the “Banquet” scene

One more scene where we needed a lot of extras, was the banquet scene, we asked people to come the day before, somehow managed to get a key to one of the big rooms we had in school. By the way, this guy’s character was supposed to have some lines in this scene, but I changed the script so I would not have to work with him again (my advice: if someone lets you down in film making, don’t rely on them).

Comparative example of a storyboard and final footage

I also understood how hard it is to shoot dialogue scenes with no good sound equipment. There was one scene in a bar, and we spent on that about two hours, I’m not happy with the result at all. Also one more scene, which turned out to be the worst scene ever made in the history of cinema, was at the same location as the fighting scenes (I had to pay again). I broke every single rule about camera position and different shot sizes. So, even editing couldn’t save it. Basically, all the dialogue scenes are bad. But, we didn’t have time to re-shoot them.

For the rest of the fighting scenes, we got a permission to shoot at my mother’s friend studio. They gave us about 4-5 hours, and still it wasn’t enough. Although I had a prepared storyboard and everything, in the last scene some shots were missing, so it’s hard for the audience to follow the story line.

Martin & Luther

The most funny scenes to shoot were the scenes which I included in the script in the very end to add some comedy. Two typical cops. The first scene consisting of two or three sheets of dialogues we managed to shoot in an hour and a half, the guys did really good. The second one, the pursuit scene, we were shooting in the Arma Factory in Moscow. We shot all the running pretty quickly, but when it came to the dialogues, they couldn’t stop laughing. But we managed. And these scenes work.

A shot from the “Murder” scene

One of my favorite scenes to shoot was a long take where a bad guy and a girl kill everyone in the house. We decided to shoot it at my father’s work place, it had many rooms and looked good. We didn’t have enough extras, so I had to think about a way for actors to run from one room to another. It was very interesting to think about all the actors and camera movements. We had to do at least 10 takes of the same shot, the thing was that in the end of the shot someone had to splash blood at the stand with a sheet of paper, and we couldn’t make it look natural.

The day before our graduation we still had one scene to shoot. I got some fake guns and also one real revolver. We went to the factory where we shot fighting scenes, hoping to get into the backyard, but it turned out that you have to be in the list to get there (you had to send all the lists a few days before, ours was called “dance studio”, how ironic). So we decided to go around it and find some location. We saw some buildings near, and we decided to go with that. When we started shooting the third shot at the parking lot, a security guy came to us. He said something like “you’re not allowed to shoot here, I’ll call the cops”, at this moment I freaked out. I was the only 18 years old, and I had a real gun in my backpack !! He called his partner: “there’s a bunch of school kids running around with guns, what should we do”. I was praying. Then he finally said: “ok, take your stuff and fuck off”. I was so glad that I even didn’t pay attention to the rudeness. So, we had to go to Arma factory again, but I was so afraid that someone would kick us out again, so we ended up shooting in the backyard of some fast food place among the garbage containers.

Process of rendering the “Russian Roulette” scene

A few words about post-production. We were shooting with Black Magic pocket camera, so the footage requires color grading in post. I had no idea how to do that. I was postponing the moment when I start it, I having lots of excuses. Finally, I started doing this in April with Adobe (if my memory serves me right), but anyway it was taking such a long time to render, because my computer is super slow. The scenes which we shot in raw (for some reason) were taking even longer, and there was a fuck up with sound, because this program compresses the shot, so when you put it onto the timeline, the sound doesn’t match. That’s why in some scenes the sound is bad.

Also, continuing the topic of sound. I didn’t own a microphone, so I was borrowing it from my friend. One day when we were supposed to shoot the rest of the banquet scene (because obviously we didn’t finish it at the first try), she had shootings as well. So we rented a Rode mic, a really small one. Stupid me wasn’t wearing headphones, so I didn’t notice that at some point it got unplugged. And the sound was screwed. We had to record sound on a separate day, rehearsing with actors and mouthing with the video. I don’t even want to think what would I do if I had to record all the sound over again. The same problem we had in the last scene, the mic got unplugged, and half of the monologue disappeared. Moral of the story: always listen to the sound in headphones, even if you’re sure it’s gonna be fine.

Anyways, it was a great experience for me, I’ve never learnt so much about film production. I’m grateful to the people who agreed to act and who were supporting me, and I still can’t believe that we managed to finish it because every day I thought: “Is it even worth such effort?” But yeah, it is.