"Don’t wait for the right time, make it the right time yourself!"
Yulia Romanova is a UK based film producer and actress of Russian origin. She started her acting career at Pinewood Studios, UK, after which she became determined to start producing her own films.
She is now known for her award winning short film 'Gender' for which she won the Inspiring Woman in a Film award at the Los Angeles Film Awards, as well as Best Drama and Best Duo (Honorable Mention, with Gisele Mauvecin) at the New York Film Awards.
Yulia never slows down, always working in full speed and energy. She is currently working on a co-production of a horror feature with her UK colleagues. Her next film which she will produce and star in 'Safe Again' - is a sci-fi thriller about global terrorism. And last year she founded her own Production company Romanoff Pictures.
Meet a passionate artist who makes the right time instead of waiting for it.
Yulia, we're delighted to have you with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and what sparked your interest in the cinematic arts, and when did you decide to become an actor?
Thank you! Oh I come from the far East of Russia, beautiful city named Vladivostok. Now I am based in London, UK. Not a lot of people know but before I started working in a film industry I gained two different degrees: World Economics, Culture and Media and another one and more unusual Professional translator of Japanese and English languages. But as many actors I gained an interest of becoming an actor when I was a little girl. Watching all those movies I realized that I’d love to be a part of a story creating a character and so that character would stay in people’s minds or influence them in some way. As a craft itself acting has been always something that attracts me in many ways. From learning the story or reading the script to seeing yourself on the screen or reading a reviews and giving interviews. So when I arrived in the UK I focused mainly on acting and then took up producing.
What were some of the first steps you took in the industry?
My first acting experience in the UK was a shooting of a short film Corporate Fellowship which took place somewhere in a countryside of Kent. The production rented a beautiful little house to shoot a story about corporate retreat weekend with all the gossips and mishaps. I was playing spiteful but sexy accountant Oksana. It was a great experience to see how everything worked there in terms of filmmaking.
What are some of your memorable experiences working for the BBC and Warner Brother projects?
It was a great experience to work on such amazing productions. And they were shooting in a lovely London, UK. It was a lot of fun to be on the set of British crime drama television series ‘McMafia’. Everything was very well organized, and being a producer myself I like when every little detail is being looked after. The show is directed by James Watkins. It was a pleasure to see him at work as he directed an episode of one of my favorite tv series of all time ‘Black Mirror’. It was inspiring for me because my next film project story is similar to the series concept. It was also a very interesting experience working on set of ‘Tomb Raider’ directed by Roar Uthaug. It always amazes me how much patience directors have working out stuff with the cast and crew. And I’ve never had an experience of them being rude. You learn a lot working on such a huge projects and it definitely helps you with your career.
What do you love the most about being on set?
When I’m producing my own project, the thing on set I love the most is the ability to combine two of my passions: producing and acting. Some people say it is hard as you have to stay in character all the time to give your best performance. But I’ve never had any problems with that as I love to micromanage and watch over all the details. And when it comes to the character I’m playing it is easy for me to switch back in. Everyone has their own ways on set and as long as it works, that’s amazing. Now, when I am on set as an actress on someone else’s project my favorite thing is to be in that atmosphere, bring the character to life so it’d stuck in people minds after watching a movie, but also I like seeing how all the cast and crew are helping each other. That’s where you know the project is going to be successful.
What are your considerations when you're offered a certain role? In other words, what makes you agree to take on a role, and/or did you ever refuse a role? Why?
Usually when I read the script I just know which role would be perfect for me. When I’m offered a particular role, the character has to move me or inspire, or at least bring some strong emotions in me either bad or good. I wouldn’t take up a part of a character that doesn’t really have much impact in the movie. Sometimes I do turn down roles that I feel not the best for my career or not the way I want to be seen in the film industry. Sometimes as actors we have to take what we’re offered but we always have a choice. So if you want to be seen in a particular way or in a particular character type, just go mostly for these parts as it will affect amazingly your career in the future.
Who are your favorite actors, and what do you find intriguing about their work? Is there any figure you look up to?
I admire a lot of actors but I think my favorite one is Gary Oldman. There is no role this man cannot play! And his acting and characters are so different every time. He portrays them amazingly without repeating his own work, he just creates something new entirely. My favorite actress at the moment - Rachel Weisz. Her heroines are always so natural, you never notice she is acting. I would also love to mention Salma Hayek, she is definitely my inspiration being talented, creative and a brave woman in film industry. Now I’m working with so many industry professionals (not only actors) and I have to say it is a pleasure to watch them at work and learn from each and every one of them. I think this is the best way!
When did you decide to form your own production company, Romanoff Pictures, and how did you go about that? What do you focus on?
I decided to form Romanoff Pictures last year as I was taking up producing my own projects and it was time to grow professionally. I wanted to set up film production company which would develop cultural bridges between film industries of countries from all over the world and help film professionals to collaborate with each other on projects in order to create amazing films. Thus, people can learn from each other experiences and start creating their own success. Now we have both overseas and UK partners.
Based on your experience with leading an independent production company, can you think of three tips for younger filmmakers who are just starting out? What do you wish you knew before you embarked on this journey?
Don’t wait for the right time! Make it the right time yourself! If you are interested in producing or even setting up a production company, go for it! No one else is going to do it for you, so first research on what producing/production exactly is. Then talk to some fellow filmmakers who has more knowledge in this area, it is always useful to hear from other people experiences. Have some clear ideas of what kind of company you want, what are your plans for it and if you have any film projects to start with. Another tip and one of the important ones – don’t do everything on your own, don’t be afraid to ask your friends or colleagues to help you out with something. Surround yourself with likeminded professionals, you will have to hire/work with them after all.
Why did you decide to take on Gender - both as a producer and an actress? What made you passionate about that story?
Two years ago I decided to take up film producing as I was already acting and wanted to start creating my own projects. Me and Gisele Mauvecin were attending private acting course at Pinewood Studios two years ago and since then we stayed in touch. Last year we decided to make a film together because our film vision was very similar and it was easy for us to work with each other. So we started to play around with ideas. One day Gisele sent me the script. The topic of the script intrigued me, plus it was partially based on her life. GENDER is a drama about inequalities at work place. It shows how women struggle emotionally and sometimes physically in order to make themselves noticeable and still get overlooked just because of some gender prejudices. So we wanted to express that unfairness in a film to make more and more people aware if these issues. So I was lucky enough to do two of my most favorite things on GENDER: producing and acting.
You recently won 'Inspiring Woman in a Film' at the Los Angeles Film Awards! Congratulations on this remarkable performance. No spoilers, but - you really did a fantastic job with the nuances of the Boss' character. How did you prepare for your role as Anna?
Thank you for your kind words. I’ve always been good with bossy roles, even my personal acting coach told me that’s one of my strongest characters to play – Business Lady. I guess that’s because I’m kind of bossy in real life, haha. I used to work in event organizing for several years. When it comes to organizing an event or producing a film, you need to be prepared to deal with a lot of aspects and to prepare everything even for emergencies. So when I was preparing for my role as Anna, that’s where my event and acting skills came in handy.
Anna is a very layered and complex character - but you totally nailed the role! Did you have many rehearsals? What was the most tricky scene/s for you to shoot, and why? How did you feel playing opposite Gisele Mauvecin?
I always try to imagine how another person or a character would behave/live under given circumstances. So with a character like Anna I had to decide upon her strong and weak sides to act accordingly. Plus, had an amazing help from GENDER director Aleksandra Czenczek on set. The tricky scenes for me were the ones where Anna is alone at home and she doesn’t have any lines, so I had to express all the loneliness and worries with my face, as by morning at work Anna had to be invincible again. Gisele is my friend, so playing opposite her was both challenging and easy at the same time. We had a great chemistry between us during rehearsals, so it was a pleasure to work with her on set. It really helped that we seemed to have the same approach to acting, so we were on the same page while filming GENDER. We always wanted to get the best out of each other so were giving a quick feedback to one another after every take. It was always the Team Work.
If you could choose any film director to work with in the future, who would that be, and why?
I would really love to work with Christopher Nolan. He is super talented and his movies are brilliant! Each of them takes you on some sort of an adventure and makes you want to watch them again and again.
What are your short-term career goals, and where do you hope to see yourself in the far future?
For now, I have several film projects in development. Each of them I’m producing/co-producing and acting in. They are all different genres (Sci-fi Thriller , Horror, Crime Drama), but all of them are pretty exciting for me. Of course it is challenging to be producer and actress at the same time, but I enjoy it and it helps me to prepare for my future goals. In terms of acting: I would love to be involved in big Hollywood projects playing strong characters. But I would also love continue to support independent filmmaking and give opportunities to talented people, as over the years I had a pleasure to work with so many of them.
What do you like to do in-between productions? How do you balance your career and your personal life?
Filmmaking is taking up a lot of my time. I’m not complaining, I love it. But in my opinion any person should at least make a little time for themselves. Do whatever they like not film related. That way they will be back all recharged and ready for new projects. It is not a problem for me to balance my career and personal life, I always use my time wisely. I often go dancing or do karaoke with my friends as I love it. When I have time I like to study different areas such as Medicine or Psychology. There are so many interesting things in life and I like exploring something new. It expands my vision of the world.
Where can our readers follow your work and your posts?
I am pretty active on social media, plus have my and my company websites.
Is there anything you wish to add?
To all beginning filmmakers: Don’t be afraid or ashamed to work for your dreams and they will become goals and completed projects!