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After receiving an M.S. degree in Oceanography, Vitaly Sumin produced ocean-related documentaries (Jacques Cousteau style) which eventually led him to abandon his scientific career to get a B.A. degree in film directing. He subsequently worked as a co-writer and producer on numerous productions. Sumin’s award winning short film "From Womb To Tomb", which he wrote, directed edited, and produced, made a world tour of important festivals. Sumin received a US patent #4,784,394 for his invention "The World Belongs To You!" - an interactive tourist game (including video, reality TV and other versions).

Sumin further studied at The Sorbonne in Paris under a study grant. His script "Idiot", a contemporary international thriller based on Dostoevsky’s novel, received a development grant from The Warner Bros Fund. A number of other Sumin's scripts are circulating in the United States and Europe.



    2006: Shades of Day, -  the initial offering of VM Productions' the ambitious Dostoevsky-LA Project. This film was selected by the Rutgers University’s professor Gerald Pirog for his course in cinema along with classic works by Bertolucci, Kurosawa, Bresson, Scorsese, Shrader, Von Sternberg... (click for more info)

    2010-2011: Notes From The New World the second installment of the Dostoevsky-LA Project.  (click for more info)

    2012: The Missing Screenwriter - 19 episodes (click for more info)

    2013:  Shades of Day - Director's Cut 2013

    2014-2017 two feature films in post-production-

    - Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of Notes From The New World  --tied with 

    - The Missing Screenwriter - 

     (click for more info)

  • 2017-2018: VM Productions is currently developing a package of four feature-length films, with Sumin slated to direct: Idiot-LA, Shades of Blood, Crime and Punishment-LA and Nancy's Game (click here for more info)


    Vitaly Sumin resides in Los Angeles.


                            Interviews with Vitaly Sumin ( please click here!)                        

    More about Vitaly Sumin (please click here!)




(click here)



March 29th: Postproduction is almost complete! We've completed our color correcting, and we're just finishing up the 5.1 surround mix. Everything is now coming to a finish. It's great to see the film nearly done with all the contributions by so many great people up there on screen looking and sounding so great. It's been a long but great journey, and we're nearly home.Two trailers have just been released - WATCH THEM HERE!...



We have locked the picture as of December 29th. We went through a couple of cuts of the film, and we are happy to report that we are quite proud of our final cut. We've gotten some very positive feedback. Since the picture is locked, it means we can now forge ahead with Foley, ADR, sound effects, music, final mixing, and color correcting. It's always amazing to be reminded of just how much work goes into completing a film. It is particularly evident when doing an independent film on a small budget such as ours. I'm again reminded of the dedication and talent of everyone involved. It really was a joy to work with Skip Spiro, our picture editor, and Taesung Yim, our Production & Postproduction supervisor to see the film come together.   Thank you again to the great  cast and crew of “Notes from the New World” and to everyone who have put their time and talent into making this film come true!




The principal photography wrapped in May 17th! Ever since the disappearance of Robert Hurley, the co-screenwriter, the production faced odd challenges and hurdles. (Please read about them and view our Video Journals.) Hurley’s disappearance remains a perplexing mystery. Yet, with perseverance, tenacity, and the dedication and hard work by our talented cast and crew, we have successfully completed a great principal photography. Although many of our original cast and crew members had to leave the production for various reasons (see our pre-production pages), we were lucky to have found such talented new cast and crew members. I am so proud and thankful for their talent, hard work, and dedication. Of course, as a small independent film, it wasn’t easy. Everyone put in long hours and endured tough challenges. We couldn’t pamper the cast and crew like a major studio film. The food wasn’t always so good, and we certainly could have used more equipment. But these challenges only caused everyone to work harder, and we’re excited to be moving into post-production with terrific footage.

                   Thank you to the great cast and crew of “Notes from the New World.”


September 3
(From an e-mail by Vitaly Sumin to Ellie Araiza - Ellie was considered for the role of Sonia)

Below are my initial, partial reflections regarding your letter. Again, your thoughtful questions and comments gave me the valuable opportunity to analyze what I've written. Thank you kindly. Let's continue.

Reading through the script for the second time, I found it more comical. I felt the film is somewhat absurdist and even satirical. I don't feel as an audience we are meant to relate directly to these characters, they are not necessarily realistic BUT they are truthful. (Like characters in Moulin Rouge) They are representative caricatures of different kinds of people who've made different choices.

You got it right. Initially I wanted to write a sort of a musical film. On the other hand, the characters, stories, motivations have to be considered and performed as real. Was such an approach dictated by Dostoevsky's texts? I mean - are his characters real? I'd rather consider them as the personages of carnivalesque morality plays. (We may refer here to some of the thoughts in this regard: http://www.shadesofday.com/VMP/smile.htm)

I can definitely see a lot of similarities between the "hero" of Notes from the Underground and the "hero" of Notes from the New World. It seems to me they are both antagonistic and self-defeating. They are cowardly and untrusting. They are in the ocean letting the current do with them what it wants. They fight with pride but then just give up. Seems to me like Steven is obsessed with "Notes from the Underground" because he so identifies with the lead. I think he has good intentions, but I think he is lost and alone.

Well I don't know... Maybe we're dealing here with a certain spell... Steven became a character of Dostoevsky against his will (in a certain way)... Maybe Sonia feels it and wants to save him (if still possible) to make him alive again.

I don't understand what could possibly make Steven an angel? Like I said above, he is mostly a coward who is easily swayed by others, afraid to think for himself. Even Irina thinks more for herself than Steven does. Steven hides behind the character of “Notes from the Underground.” Why should I care about Steven as an audience member? The only reason I care for him is because of seeing how Sonia looks at him... There must be something about him. Is it that he really wants to be good? Sonia is more of an angel to him than he is to her. And yet she sees in him, perhaps the good that he is often too scared and prideful to let out. She sees him through a filter that maybe God put on her eyes. Sometimes we are meant to see only the good in people, perhaps to show them the good in themselves. Or maybe she is the only one who really sees him. As an audience member... I have to wonder... why and how is he an angel?

Steven got an "order" from Bob to be a Dostoevsky "hero". He's both Bob's and Dostoevsky's guinea pig. As an actor he's a "hard worker". Who's the real Steven? Can he really identify himself with the "hero" of "The Notes" by Dostoevsky? Should he get an "order" the next day from Bob to play Hamlet, he would try to become 100% Hamlet...
It seems to me that Sonia doesn't consider Steven as a "coward"... She may see "behind the masks"... The problem of Humanity (and Ionesco genially pointed out to this tragedy of our daily existence in the "Rhinoceros") is that anybody (at least 98% of us) can be a coward or a hero - depending on the circumstances... Need historical examples of all human experience? - Here they are: human conditions and behavior under the communist and fascist regimes ... Jesus said to his disciples that ALL of them will betray him before the sunrise... Sonia just sees a wounded soul of an actor who perpetually carries on himself like Sisyphus a heavy cross signifying the tragedy of human existence... What is hidden behind the masks (if anything?)... Steven checks his ability to be a murderer ("anybody can be a murderer"...) as well as the reaction of the crowd... Nobody cares (Do we?) This is a cry addressed directly to God: WHY?!. So Sonia is here to help and to take care... Therefore she sees him through a certain filter. Yes, he's an angel because she's an angel (messenger)... And what is this life without dreams? (This is only a partial answer/question, of course).

How does Steven go from kicking Sonia out of his car TO turning around and picking her back up?

Well, we may only guess... As a hard-working actor - he may identify himself with the hero of Dostoevsky completely... So he's under a spell... Are we talking here about the biology of the nature of men, humankind in general? Love is never a fairy tale - it's  a permanent struggle - a thin line between life and death - the opposites... At least that's how it is for most of Dostoevsky's heroes... Some killers awaiting their death sentence may say (including the killers in Dostoevsky's world) that they killed because they loved...

Q: What does the key represent?

A. It appears that without the key there's no money and possible common future for Sonia and Steven. Is Sonia an angel or just a human being (after all!)? Or are we dealing here again with the change of the masks (including the mask of an angel)? That's how L'Alchemista ends - the guy finds money -so he can live in this world. No escape?
People tried a revolution via terrorist means in the city where Dostoevsky lived.... Maybe that's what the key represents.

Why doesn't Sonia give up the key?

A That's where she's not an angel. On the other hand, she was sent to this world and this film to make some changes for the good so the Life may continue (see "what the key represents?")

Why do the Russians go through all the trouble of manipulating Steven to get to little Sonia? Why can't they catch her? What is it about her that makes her untouchable? Is SHE an angel?

They want to catch her but don't succeed. That's it. If somebody believes that they don't catch her because so and so... then who could stop people believe in something?

Steven seems to me to be very prideful, and Sonia is the opposite of pride, she is love. He wants love, just like every human being does. We all want it at the pit of our souls. But some of us give up all together. If Sonia wasn't around, would he just give up on love and live miserably?

A. It may well be that women in general, are more stable and faithful than men. Take, for example, Ingmar Bergman, my favorite director. - The women are stronger in his spiritual morality plays... If Sonia wasn't around, Steven may just give up... Or he may find Irina or somebody else... Steven lives miserably because he wants to identify himself with the hero of the book. Does he take a low paying job for the same reason (the hero of the book is a poor guy). How did he live before Bob asked him to play "Dostoevsky"? We don't know. It may be that he could be the Steven we know. It may be different.

Who is this little boy? Does he see Sonia as an angel?

A. The little boy may be in love with Sonia. He may be an angel. Or just a little boy. Or all of the above. We don't know, but my guess is that love made him an angel. So he waits until he can help.

Q: Interesting how Steven's friends say they would never hurt him, just like the friends of the "hero" of Notes. It seems that Steven is his own worst enemy as is the "hero" of Notes.

The difference is that in the book the meeting of the former classmates is a rather tragic event (as far as the hero of the book is concerned). In the film it's a sarcastic comedy. Karl Marx said that the highest point of each tragedy is its comedy - the gods of Olympus died twice - the first time in the Greek tragedies, the second time in the Roman comedies... (cited by memory). In the book the hero is a victim of the rules. In the film Steven (manipulated by Bob) sets the rules.

At the end of the script, our "hero" doesn't seem to make a conscious choice to be with Sonia. It just so happens that Irina dies. What if she had lived? Would he still go with Sonia? Or would he just stay with Irina? Perhaps Irina is more like him, swayed by money and other temptations. What changes or growth does Steven go through in this film? I'm not sure.

A. Could/will Sonia become Irina?.. Or does Steven need both women and to remain with both? Sonia opens for him a page of Life... Irina a page of Death. Where does the truth lie?

Q: I certainly see Steven being a moral terrorist just like the "hero" of Notes. He does reject love... But is that something we all do? Do we all need to hate just as much as we need to love? What is it about love that scares us?

A. Terrorism in the sick mind of the hero of Dostoevsky's book (as Steven understands it) may represent a search for the love of God because of the lack of love on Earth. Love is a way to Death and Eternity. That's why it scares us. On another level, we can talk about commitment and other elements endorsed/imposed by society.

Q: In a sense, Sonia is more advanced than Steven, she is the "first-world country" and he is the "third-world." Is that why he puts her down and throws her away until he has reached her level and decided to love instead of hate?

A She's also stronger than he is. Also, we may consider an additional reading: There's a moment in the exposition when Steven considers taking out the mask of the hero by Dostoevsky and become Steven again... It happens when Sonia runs after him and stops him: "I KNOW who you are..." So he considers becoming himself again (because he likes Sonia from the first glance) rather than representing a Mask that Bob wants him to be.

Q: It seems like all the Russians in this film are bad guys? Is that for a reason? It seems typical of American movies to make Russians the bad guys... but is this an American movie?

A. Well, it's an LA movie designed by Vitaly Sumin (who has acquired a certain life experience) and executed (I hope) by all of us. Moreover, when I wrote the Russian characters I didn't intend to show them as stereotypes because I know who they are... But since it was written in English - my knowledge didn't match the "knowledge"/
historical/semi-geographic structures of the English language. Therefore, while directing I'll make efforts to show the Russians as real people - not Masks.

June 2

“Shades of Day” is in good company!

Our film is included by Gerald Pirog, professor of Rutgers University, New Jersey in his course “Dostoevsky and Cinema” along with the works by Bernardo Bertolucci, Martin Scorsese, Robert Bresson, Lucino Visconti, Paul Shrader, Akira Kurosawa...

For more info on this subject go here: http://www.shadesofday.com/critics.htm

(NOTE: To read an interview with Vitaly by Lisa Pinckard click here: http://www.shadesofday.com/VMP/smile.htm

  Pr Material  
  California Chronicle  

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  American Chronicle magazine, Interview with Vitaly Sumin  by Christina Hamlet
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  "Great  Adaptations", MovieMaker magazine, - special edition -
Complete Guide to Making Movies -
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Vitaly Sumin

Vitaly Sumin

Producer & Founder
of VM Productions

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