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Listen: Director Timur Bekmambetov Talks ‘Screenlife’ Technology Push, U.S.-Russia Divide

Director Timur Bekmambetov has seen the future — and it requires a new “language” for filmmakers.

The Russian helmer is actively promoting a new production software that he has dubbed “Screenlife,” for lensing low-budget movies that revolve solely around the screen activity on personal devices of characters who are not depicted in flesh and blood, only through the words and imagery on their devices. He’s in the midst of a push to license the technology to other production entities and to teach directors how to use it effectively.

Bekmambetov explains the origins of Screenlife and plan to launch a licensing push next month in the latest episode of Strictly Business, Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment.

Listen to the full interview here:

“Today the most important events in our lives happen on screens,” Bekmambetov says. “But there is no way you can capture this with a traditional film camera. It’s just two kids sitting with their iPhones.”

Bekmambetov began refining his idea after he scored a surprise success as a producer along with Jason Blum of the 2014 horror movie “Unfriended,” which incorporated screen activity as part of the plot. He sees it as a way to “make movies about today’s world and today’s heroes.”

The prolific director of such pics as 2004’s “Night Watch” and 2008’s “Wanted” also discusses the evolution of Russia’s film and TV marketplace and shares his thoughts on why there is such tension between his homeland and the U.S. these days. He sees the biggest problem as the divisions within both Russia and the U.S. as the biggest problem.

“Both countries are divided — not geographically but inside the societies,” he says. “There is freedom and there is responsibility. Those are the two big ideas” that represent the fault lines for both cultures, he says.

Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan, Spotify’s Dawn Ostroff, Bankable Productions’ Tyra Banks, HBO’s Richard Plepler, and Entertainment Studios’ Byron Allen. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.

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