Seven Questions with... Barbara Kononova

Barbara Kononova
Barbara Kononova
This week we’re joined by Barbara Kononova, Media student and President of UCL’s Bafta-famed FilmSoc. Barbara chats to us about all things filmmaking at UCL, shooting on the same camera as Christopher Nolan and testing out the UCL East dubbing studio.

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I have chosen BA Media’s filmmaking pathway (as opposed to the video games option), which combines theory with a practice-based approach to several areas of production through various genres and disciplines. However, it wasn’t until I became FilmSoc ’s Drama Producer as part of the 2022/23 committee that I developed an interest in the producer specialisation. Seeing a project through all the way, from its initial conception to its subsequent release, while working alongside a diverse, versatile crew is truly something special. As I continue to pursue this as a career, I am in the process of finalising my portfolio and applying for related MAs in and around London!

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or gotten involved with while at UCL?

I have had the privilege of working as an Executive Producer for Pigeon-livered, a surrealist 16mm short film shot on Arriflex 16BL - the very same camera Christopher Nolan used for Following (1998). It is an ambitious, mixed-media project that combines live action and stop animation. We were also lucky to work with Cal MacAninch (Downtown Abbey, Mr Selfridge), who voice-overed our animated figure. We recorded in the UCL East dubbing studio, which was very exciting for me - I love all things sound design. Currently, the film is in post-production, scheduled to premiere in May 2024 at the Festival of the Moving Image. Everyone on this crew is immensely talented and hard-working, and I could not be prouder of my team.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

This may be an obvious answer - albeit some of my friends did not know this - but the piano practice rooms above the Huntley quickly became one of my most frequented spots. I have played for a few years, and some of my friends are incredible musicians, so we would often get together and enjoy each other’s music. It was a great way to unwind and connect without saying anything.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

  1. Exmouth Market (Clerkenwell, between Farringdon and Chancery Lane). It is the hidden gem of central London. After a spontaneous visit, I fell in love with the area and later started working in the neighbourhood part-time. It is a community of local business owners who treat each other and their customers like family, and there are a lot of great bespoke shops, restaurants and cafés you could go to!
  2. A few times a year, the Classic Car Boot Sale takes place in Coal Drop’s Yard. There is an open-air disco, vintage vendors stationed next to old-school cars, and a variety of places to grab some food and drinks. I thrifted some of my favourite items from this event. It is wholesome and vibrant - and the people there sure have a unique sense of style. I believe the next one is happening in April this year!
  3. Contrary to popular belief amongst my friends, I love Southbank. As a film student, it is an obvious choice to be a fan of the BFI, however I mainly go there to walk along the river. In the wintertime, there is the Christmas market and at night it illuminates beautifully, and you can see the landmarks from a distance. Sure, it’s touristic, but I still find it wonderful.

If you could study a different subject, what would it be and why?

Probably film scoring. I could go on a long tangent about my favourite film composers, and I often think that sound is not appreciated enough in such a visual art form (especially in student films). I am as intrigued by the technical side as I am by the creative. Music can be so overwhelmingly powerful sometimes.

Who inspires you and why?

A few years ago, I went to see Anatoly Belly’s solo show I Am Here in Helsinki. I cannot begin to describe how profound, intimate, and heart-wrenching it was. Stripped of any décor, there is merely a human being before us on stage. An emotional exploration of identity through the "everyman" character, the performance resembles a conversation about our innermost feelings, tragic or comical, yet always sincere. I’ve never been a fan of theatre, however, this is a ticket I won’t ever regret purchasing. Both the actor and the show remain a big inspiration to me, personally and creatively.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I was an athlete for most of my life. First rhythmic gymnastics, then basketball until I got to university. Nowadays, I am satisfied with meeting my daily steps goal and calling it a day - but I still try to be as active as I can.
  • University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT (0) 20 7679 2000