In the last blog, we discussed Russian American Consulting Corporation’s entry into the filmmaking business with a new documentary, “Fort-Ross.” From March 24th through the 29th, the first part of shooting was completed in California. Although there were some issues with the weather, the crew was triumphant in getting the footage they needed.
To say the least, the trip had a bumpy start. There was a tornado warning in San Francisco, and we learned that it was going to be raining the entire time the filming was supposed to take place. It’s crucial to have good weather and sunlight when you’re making a documentary, so we were a bit worried.
The day after landing, our team arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge to film and lo and behold, the weather had improved. From there, we ventured to Fort Ross itself, which is a two-hour drive from San Francisco, and encountered yet another issue: our hotel had a power outage due to the storm. This led to a one-hour drive in the dark up a windy mountain and narrow road. Thankfully, we go to the hotel safe and sound, which was located in Bodega Bay (also known as Rumyantsev Bay).
For the next few days, we’d drive 30 miles in the rain to the site of Fort Ross, and hope the weather would get better. Miraculously, it did, every single time. We’d prepare for the shoot while it was still stormy and then the sun would come out. It was truly a blessing.
At the location, we learned about the Fort Ross Interpretive Association, a library, museum, and summer camp for young children. Many of the campers come from Irkutsk and Totma, the small city where the founder of Fort Ross, Evan Alexander Kuskov, was born. According to its website, FRIA researches the history of Fort Ross, preserves and maintains Rotchev House, the only remaining Russian-built structure on the land, archives photographs, and is working on a book in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Humanities that “will broaden knowledge about the early Russian contributions to Colonial California.”
While there, we found out about the history of the company that ran their business in the region. It was overseen by the President of Russian-America Baranov along with his CEOs Shelechov and Nikolai Ryazanov. The story of Ryazanov and his love affair with a Spanish girl was the inspiration for the tragic tale of “Yunona and Avos,” a famous musical.
Discovering the history of the land was especially meaningful to Dmitry Kharatyan, whose ancestor was the governor and married to an Aleut woman. He enjoyed visiting it because of his family’s history there. He was also impressed by the beautiful land and nature at Fort Ross. Kharatyan said he can’t wait to visit again and show his family.
The next stop for the filming of the documentary is St. Petersburg, where we’ll be from April 14th through the 16th. Then, it’s onto Alaska. Moscow is the final destination, and we are going to be shooting reconstructive scenes featuring people in the costumes from the 18th and 19th centuries.
So far, the filming of “Fort-Ross” has been a wonderful learning experience for RACC, despite all the issues with the weather in California. We just have to hope that the weather is better in Alaska, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. And we also hope that audiences appreciate all the time, energy, and care that went into the production and enjoy the film. We are looking forward to seeing the final result.