LA to Kiev and Back

Los Angeles, USA, 2003

Mark Eberle, an up and coming director of photography, is hunched over an archaic twenty-inch CRT monitor studying test footage for an upcoming commercial shoot to be filmed in two days in northern New Jersey.

“The light just isn’t ever going to be right here.” He whispers quietly to himself.

As he contemplates the ramifications of changing the location last minute, his desk phone rings and he answers with an unintended harshness he would immediately regret.

On the other end is an unfamiliar voice. The caller spoke with a thick accent that Mark guessed was from somewhere in Eastern Europe. He receives his confirmation when the caller tells him that he is from a recruiting agency located in the city of Kiev, Ukraine.

For a plethora of reasons the need for commercial work in the Ukraine had been steadily growing over the last several years. The need had become so great that local agents had been forced to look outside of their home country for talented directors and directors of photography. Seeing as the US has no shortage of talent, the agents set their sites on Tinsel Town. Mark found himself on a long list of potential Directors of Photography targeted by the European talent agencies.

With an appetite for adventure and the potential to earn extra money while visiting a beautiful country, Mark accepted the invitation to shoot his first project, a commercial for a local brewery in Kiev.

Once in Kiev, Mark set his skills to work producing an amazing 30s spot and his name started becoming more and more familiar among the local talent. Introduction lead to introduction and soon the work was pouring in. After shooting around half-a-dozen spots, Mark decided it was time to head home to focus on new artistic endeavors.

Mark Eberle on set in Kiev

Mark Eberle on set in Kiev

Kiev, Ukraine, 2013

Lybomir Levitski, a young and upcoming director is gaining popularity with his unique style of story telling. Being on the cutting edge of this art form means that a director needs to be willing to step outside of their comfort zone to make progress in the art. Seeing his chance to make waves in the industry, and noticing an increased desire for “American Style” direction, Lybomir sets out to film his next picture in just such a way.

Reaching out to his contacts in the industry, Lybomir keeps coming across the name Mark Eberle, a US Director of Photography that had done a great deal of work ten years ago, but had mysteriously been absent from the industry in more recent years. Combing through Mark’s decade old work was enough to convince the young director that he had found his DP for his first Western style project.

Lybomir picked up the phone and started dialing the +01 US area code. It was 8pm, but Mark would just be getting to the office.

“Hello this is Mark.” A cheerful voice echoed over the line.

Again, an Eastern European accent greeted Mark through the receiver. Again, the voice was unfamiliar.

“Hello, my name is Lybomir Levitski, and I’m interested in bringing you back to the Ukraine to change the film industry here.”

He had Mark’s attention.

Lybomir launched into a passionate description of his plan to bring a new and fresh direction style to his country’s rapidly growing feature film industry. He explained he was building a mostly American team of artists to collaborate with his Ukrainian team to produce a full-length feature film. He also went into detail about how unorthodox the American style of filming was to the Ukraine, and how much of a “game-changer” this project would be in his country.

Having been focused on commercial work for the last decade, Mark was eager to be part of a full feature and before he knew it was again on a plane heading east. The chance to be part of a team that was making major history, was too good to pass up.

Los Angeles, USA, Present Day

The film is only three weeks away from launching in 90 theaters all over the Ukraine. The expectation from the awaiting public has been palpable in the city of Kiev and the excitement has begun to spread halfway across the globe.

Mark, a self-proclaimed “laid-back guy” is fielding daily phone and Skype calls from half a world away. Calls and interview requests from top news shows, akin to the US’s Good Morning America, and radio talk shows have been inundating the DP’s inbox and voicemail. It turns out, Mark has become quite a celebrity in the Ukraine’s own version of Hollywood.

Becoming a Ukrainian sensation has been a welcome turn of events for Mark. He couldn’t be happier for his friend and colleague Lybomir Levitski. Lybomir has been enjoying his own fame in his homeland, and has become a national hero for his effort to bring western culture to his country.

He finishes a Skype interview and downsizes the window reveling his latest project. The red carpet event will be in three weeks, but for now, it’s back to creating magic for another client, in another part of the world.

Mark skips through frame by frame scrutinizing the lighting and shadows as they move across the landscape.

“The light just isn’t ever going to be right here.” He whispers quietly to himself.

Mark Eberle filming in Kiev

Mark Eberle filming in Kiev