2016-12-14 / Front Page

Interview: Akan Satayev, Director Of Anonymous

JON HEADLEE interviews AKAN SATAYEV, director of ANONYMOUS, a film which follows a teenager computer wiz who turns to a life of online crime after his family hits the rocks financially because of banking institutions. Along the way he meets a street-wise hustler who introduces him to the world of black market trading, and Kira, a young hacker secretly working as an FBI mole. After quickly finding success in causing financial market chaos, they gain the attention of Z – a mysterious, masked figure, who’s the head of an online crime group, and a number one target of the FBI. A multi-million dollar production, Anonymous opened in select cities on December 2.
How did directing this film compare to some of your earlier work?
The production of each film is unique. Naturally, “Hacker” (the original title) is special in this respect, as I was shooting it in America, which has the world’s best film industry. For me it was a tremendous experience and a great school.
The narration and story structure evoke elements of a docudrama; was that intentional?
It’s nice to hear – we didn’t try to be in this genre intentionally. We just wanted to tell our story as truthfully as possible. For this, we had our consultants and the screenplay was based on true events.
Are any of the characters based on or inspired by real people?
Yes, our film is a slightly rearranged story of a man who really performed credit card fraud, and who later suffered consequences for it in the form of imprisonment. After he was released from prison, he became a law-abiding person.
The film ends on an open note; did you do that for effect or should we invest ourselves in the characters for a sequel?
This was originally intended, since the person who shared with me the story of this film and who is the prototype on whom the main hero is based now has a family and a legal business. (And the idea of a sequel does not sound bad.)
Since the film is called “Anonymous,” some may think the film plays odes to the real life hacker group, Anonymous. Are they correct?
In fact, we do not sing odes or praise hacking activities, on the contrary, we condemn them – the main message of the film is “by destroying, it is impossible to create!” – even if you are driven by the noblest thoughts.
How much research into black markets did you do for this film?
We had special consultants on this topic, and my writer, Sanzhar Sultan, was working closely with them. In the process of writing the script and filming, we strictly followed their comments.
The cast plays their roles quite well, but which one was the most fun to work with on set?
We were very lucky with the actors. In this regard, I wish to emphasize the instinct of the casting director Laray Mayfield, who found us our protagonists. To note someone alone is difficult, I think that all of our actors performed remarkably. As for “fun to work with,” it was probably Callan McAuliffe, as he often joked outside the frame and it turned out well.
The film takes place primarily in Canada and Hong Kong, but involves a plot at the New York Federal Reserve, so who is your intended audience? Americans or the International market?
We are focused on America, but do not strictly limit ourselves.
In the shooting process, which location was your favorite to shoot at? Which one was the most challenging?
We had only one day of shooting in the US, so unfortunately we did not have time to enjoy it. I liked shooting in Toronto. It was more difficult in Hong Kong, although as a location, it is a great place!
Could you see yourself shooting a future movie in Queens?
I am sure that many directors from all over the world dream of making films in the US.

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