I was asked to write and direct a short for an omnibus awhile back, similar to a project like Paris, je t'aime(2006), but instead, we were supposed to make Sofia, Bulgaria, the main hero. My hometown.

I went back home after the meeting wondering how I was supposed to deliver the idea in less than a week. But in a weird way, it boosted my brain to come up with a story that became the short film The Ticket. 

Then the omnibus never happened. Many years passed, and then 2020 arrived.

Like many of you, I work in commercials, and as we all know, jobs were on full stop. I went crazy at home with no plans to fill my so-called “free” time. Then it hit me that I should make a short film. So I opened my drawer of rejected ideas and started searching for something that might have some coolness to it.

I found the old script for The Ticket.

But I had a problem. How to shoot it? We all know when we think of the restrictions how easy it is to set ourselves back and say, "Yeah, it won’t happen." Nobody would be interested. 

So I set myself a specific goal, a deadline. This film would premiere on March 8, celebrating International Women’s Day. I called my producer Alexander Kenanov from B2Y Productions and pitched him the idea. He wanted to do it on the spot.

The remaining question was, "How are we going to shoot this low- to no-budget short film during the pandemic in three shooting days?"

Well, with my right hand, production manager Daniel Vasev, we decided to connect with crew that was willing to work pro bono—to find the people who would love our short film the same way as us. No matter how bad we wanted someone. This was the rule. 

Myticket_2Credit: B2Y Productions

During prep, I decided to call people whose work I really admired who I thought would be perfect for the film. In a way, this led me to the right people. 

After gathering our crew we kept slowly prepping, and about two weeks before shooting, everything fell apart. We basically lost 80% of our crew. The reason was that we chose to shoot the film in August, which was a strategic decision because of the beautiful green colors and look of our city. But it just so happened to coincide when production jobs started ramping back up again. 

We had to re-crew four or five times from absolute scratch before we ended up shooting. It's a tough hurdle to overcome for any film, but with persistence, you can find the right people.

Our art director Eva Velichkova came aboard and did an amazing job. The same with our DP Teodor Fichev, who operated everything handheld on an Easy-Rig. We ended up having a flawless three days of shooting, pairing an ARRI Alexa Mini with Cooke anamorphic lenses.

Theticket_1_0Behind the scenes of 'The Ticket'Credit: B2Y Productions

We finished the edit in just a couple of weeks and the first cut was around 15 minutes long. We worked hard with our editor Bogomil Georgiev, and eventually, we reached the 11-minute version of the film with the help of the amazing music composed by Ali Helnwein.

After picture was locked, our sound designer Denis Elmaci worked with us over Zoom to create its soundscape. Same for the color grade with Kath Raisch at Company 3 NYC. 

We were all working remotely, and the thing that we used to translate imagination was words. Nothing more. Turns out that words can also be a very powerful way to explain emotions! 

Funny enough, the animations in the film, beautifully hand-crafted by Serafima Serafimova, weren’t there from the beginning. I knew that I had to portray the kid’s fear somehow, and the mechanics behind the ticket and the perforator, but I had no idea how to do that. I wanted to work with her for so long that when I sent her the treatment and explained the film, I gave her full creative freedom, and she went crazy awesome on it. I used the same approach with our title designer, Maxim Ivanov.

Overall, it was an amazing experience, one where if you give the creatives around you the freedom to work, it's going to allow them to do what they are really good at and make your film better.

And if you force yourself into a premiere date, it's going to keep you motivated to get it done. 

You can see more of my work on my website