At Soviet times "the true cinema" was a State monopoly, a privilege of a handful of professionals. There was a fathomless profound between them and cine armatures. However, Aviafilm Studio has exemplified how enthusiasm sometimes helps to overcome obstacles and achieve success.
In the 1965, when Kharkov Aircraft Factory was preparing to celebrate its fortieth anniversary, Valentine Bova, Vyatcheslav Smorodin, and Eugheniy Pogorelov, the members of 'temporary production stuff', were assigned to create a commemorative film.
The first film was approved by the authorities but could not pretend to more. The initial staff broke up but the 'cinema laboratory', as it was called at that time, has been preserved.
The time between 1966 and 1969 did not bring much; however, it is regarded as a beginning of the cinema at Kharkov Aircraft Factory. Two enthusiasts, Alexander Nesterov and Vyatcheslav Volkov, set about the business.
The film products gradually became worth to be demonstrated not only on regional but on republican level.
In the 1970 a Regional Council of Trade-Unions gave a title to the small staff of the factory cinematographers, which remained unchanged over two decades: "VSLET" Public Amateur Film Studio.
Since the 1976 the creative forces of VSLET were represented by its three producers: Alexander Nesterov, Serghey Rosanov and Vladimir Sobolevskiy. Each of them had an average output of some three to four films per year, which is a quite good rate for documentary cinematography.
The subjects were diverse: aviation, stories of enterprises, sports. The studio was noticed in Kiev and even in Moscow, in the Ministry of Aviation Industry and the Central Committee of All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. Orders came in from everywhere.
The following full-length films (each of around one hour duration) may be regarded as the most important works in studio's development:
- "Flight Guaranteed" - about cooperation of aircraft enterprises in Kharkov, Minsk and Leningrad;
Films of a 'standard' for documentation ten- and twenty-minute formats like "Thoughts on Superlight Aviation", "Aerial Bus" became a milestone for VSLET, first of all, because these films featured a combination of on-site shooting and animation. This trend was found very promising as it freshened the works, gave a new sound to them. Secondly, being devoted to aviation, VSLET's favorite subject, these films greatly contributed to the studio's prestige.
As far as awards are concerned, the most award-winning films were: "White Trace on Blue Water", a ten-minute story of water-skiers that was highly rated at Film Festival of Nations in Austria and received a special prize 'For Best Sporting Film', and the above-mentioned "On the Threshold of Self-Support" that won seventeen medals of VDNH, some of which were golden.
Studio's popularity helped it along to get invited to participate in such significant events as Antarctic expedition (1988) and Arctic expedition (1989).
The first Kharkov journalist to attend the South Pole was Mikhail Zemlyanoi. Mikhail Budylko and Vyatcheslav Savin have attended the zero point in the north.
In 1990 in the base of the Public Film Studio VSLET, by order of the Ministry of Aviation Industry of USSR, "AVIAFILM" Branch Video Centre was established.
By that turning point the studio's staff had thinned out - having achieved maturity studio's leading professionals, A. Nesterov, the screen writer, and S. Rozanov, the producer, set out for creative search on their own. In a year or so the studio's cameraman, M. Budylko, left AVIAFILM. The experience and skills gained helped them to make a rapid and successful career on television.
The animation team has also separated from AVIAFILM. As an independent set-up it was engaged in production of animated commercials for some years, not without success. It was affected by a staff turnover too - today animation artists who started their career in VSLET can be met in Moscow, Kiev, Israel, and USA. The same can be said of the other specialists. VSLET, and later AVIAFIL, have become a starting point for many professionals of cinematograph and television.
In the 1996 V. Savin, who had been an assistance director, headed the studio.
Between 1989 and 199.. the second wave of enthusiasts entered AVIAFILM. For several years producers D. Golovachev, A. Muratov, O. Belogub, and video engineers S. Sutulov and A. Kavun, were working at the studio.
It is the period when revival of the studio began. The background for it was the comprehensive collection of photos, films and videos having been accumulated during decades. Using the unique documents in the 1966 the studio started creation of 30-series film, "The Sky of the Twentieth Century". A. Nesterov was engaged to work as a screen writer.
Beyond all expectations the serial roused interest of not only aviation experts but a wide circle of spectators. The only comment from the audience was that the film was mainly devoted to foreign aviation.
This reasonable remark was responded by a new, large-scale AVIAFILM's work - the 24-hour serial about domestic aviation named "The Red Stars". The idea was realized by the producers Oleg Kucherenko, Valentine Mitrofanov amd Victor Lysenko. Most of the texts were written by Alexander Nsterov.
Along with creating 'monumental' historical films, which are very costly and rather unprofitable, AVIAFILM is constantly involved in commercial projects. Principal customers of such products are aviation enterprises of Russia and Ukraine, air forces of these countries, leading Ukrainian and Russian TV companies.
AVIAFILM was the first in Kharkov to adopt multimedia production - electronic presentations, training programs, directories and encyclopedias on CDs. Today this activity upholds financial stability of AVIAFILM and ensures an optimistic outlook for the future.
Plans for the future are simple and defined - to continue the business yielding to nobody in quality and efficiency, increase number of admirers, spectators and, above all, customers. If we succeed in this now why not expect success in the future?