Entertainment & Arts

Last Ukrainian Show To Be Filmed Before Invasion Nearing Completion In Bomb Shelter; Propagate Distribution Shopping ‘Porn, I Love You’ In U.S.

EXCLUSIVE: The final TV show to be filmed in Ukraine before the war commenced is nearing completion in a bomb shelter.

Porn, I Love You, a rare U.S./Ukraine co-production from Netflix’s Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom producer Den Tolmor, was filmed in Kyiv just prior to the war starting and editors, sound designers, composers, directors and others are now putting the finishing touches in the shelter.

These shelters have doubled up to serve a number of functions over the past three months while, in the reverse, FILM.UA’s Ukraine studio has itself been used as a bomb shelter.

U.S. distributor Propagate Distribution is already shopping Porn, I Love You to buyers, with the hope that they will see the intense work that has gone into the show and appreciate its comic appeal at a time of hardship for the nation that won the coveted Eurovision Song Contest earlier this month.

Starring Artur Ignatenko, Liliya Tsvelikova and Aleksandr Melnik, the show is an original comedy series executive produced by Sergei Baranov, Marc Vayn, Karina Bezell and Igor Volkov. Ukrainian scribe Anton Skripets is writer/director.

Tolmor’s DD& T Films’ office is in Kyiv and the team realized post-production needed to relocate almost immediately after the February 23 Russian invasion.

“Our editor was pulling the takes up, and the director and producers had to make a final decision via Zoom,” he recalls to Deadline. “The editor lives in the outskirts about 10 miles away, so when we had to bring him to Kyiv, the drive would take approximately two hours because of the ongoing military actions. The countless amounts of checkpoints took hours, and the soldiers would check the cars very thoroughly because of the fear of saboteurs.”

The stress was monumental and made more difficult by the sound design and sound mixing challenges associated with actors who were moving between countries, added Tolmor.

Despite all the difficulties, he said, “resilience and high spirits” helped the team finish successfully.

Skripets added: “The idea was not to give the Russians any reason to think they could break us. We have to move on. We’ve got to show the world this is not the end.”

Given all that is taking place, the thirst for Ukrainian content is only likely to increase.

FILM.UA co-pro exec Kateryna Vyshnevska is currently in L.A. drumming up support from the major U.S. studios and streamers for the Ukraine Content Club, a $20M fund that is intended for Ukrainian scripted drama, animation and factual.

Porn, I Love You could be the first of a new generation to achieve international recognition and Tolmor is under no illusion as to how much the subject matter juxtaposes with the current situation.

“Audiences all over the world can laugh out loud watching a show that was really not made in funny times,” he said.

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