05 April, 2023

Featuring Gleb, the main character in Slovakia's international feature film Oscar submission.


From short-film amateur productions to the lead role in Slovakia’s entry film for the 2023 Oscars in the Best International Feature Film category, Gleb, our Year 13 student talked about his journey in the film industry. Gleb always wanted to be an actor since he was a child and has been working towards his dream ever since and moving to a different country seven years ago did not stop him. He had a chance to work alongside well-known Czech actors such as Igor Chmela, Alena Mihulova and Victor Zavadil, and international actors from Ukraine and Slovakia.

After a long five months of castings, he made his screen debut in the film Victim which was released in 2022.

We asked our aspiring movie star about his future goals and the challenges young international actors in Prague have to overcome:


Could you tell us how your career started?

When we moved to Prague, I started looking for castings, acting schools and I found an acting coach online. After a few lessons, he recommended that I go to a school called Prague Film School, which is a directing and acting school for international students coming to Prague. Even though the films are directed by students; low-budget, amateur, and usually short films, I was there because I wanted to get experience. I registered in their database, and I went to a few castings. I got in touch with the principal of the school (Prague Film School), she noticed me around (I was there often) and she mentioned me to a casting director of the film Victim.

Later on, I received an invitation for the casting. The casting process took five to six months. The first round was attended by 50 people, and they selected them based on their appearance. The second casting was more personal “introduce yourself, let’s see how you feel in front of the camera”. Towards the end, the casting was getting more and more complex. One day I was on a school bus getting home and I got a call from the casting director:


“Congratulations, Gleb - you got the role!”

It was the lead role in the movie. I was very happy because that’s all I could think about at the time. But then, unfortunately, Covid came and they had to postpone shooting until 2021, so I had to wait a year before we actually started shooting.


What made you realise you wanted to be an actor? Did you have an idol?

I was inspired by Zelenskyy. Before he became the president, he was an actor and he had his own film company, he had a comedy show and I found him very inspiring. I watched a lot of movies that he was in, but I guess I was just always artistic and that was just natural, I really liked the attention. Now I’m more aware of why I like acting but at the time it was just something that interested me because of certain actors that I really liked; like, Zelenskyy and Tom Ellis.


You just mentioned that when you started, you didn’t know why you liked acting, but now you do?

I can escape the real world. The film industry is not like any other industry. It’s so different from everything else; show business is like a different reality, and that’s what really, really excites me. That you can escape from the real world. It’s something different that not a lot of people do. About acting, particularly, it’s being someone else and exploring a whole different story. It’s really- it’s a challenge, and I find that very interesting.


Did you feel like you had two personalities playing a character?

Yes, for sure. I got lucky with the role because I could quite easily relate to the character. He moved to the Czech Republic with his mum from Ukraine and his adaptation process was very similar to mine. Making friends, adapting, moving to a whole new different country and not knowing the language; I had the same story.


The difficult part was my character being a bad person. He lied to the press, and to his mum, to the government, to the police. I could only act it out when I understood that he was driven by fear. That’s when I knew what to do on camera, because when I realised that he’s driven by fear, he’s scared - that’s when I consciously started getting the right emotions out and portraying them.


What would you class as your biggest achievement?

A year ago, when I was new to it all, just getting cast seemed like a big achievement but now it doesn’t seem that big anymore because I have other goals and they are bigger now. I would say I will take the success of the film, as my success. Going to festivals; attending premieres; getting interviews. What I’m the proudest of but if there’s one thing to be proud about in my life, the film would be at the top.


What is the next milestone?

Becoming more professional in the field. I understand that if I want to move in that direction, going into the film industry and to be on the same level as the top actors, I need to study acting and I need to become more professional - taking courses, getting in touch with people, networking and just being in the industry and trying to make things happen - that’s my goal.


Did the school support you?

At the time of the shoot, I was in Year 11. I had the shoot the week before my exams. A lot of teachers were unhappy because my exams were due in a week, and I was on set. I wasn’t revising, I was fully invested in the movie, but eventually, they came up to me and said, “I saw you on TV a few days ago. You were on TV giving an interview.” Now they’re proud, and they congratulate me.


I could always talk to teachers about this and they would always understand. Especially, Ms Williams; she’s my theatre teacher. She was always so genuine, sincere and she was always there to support me. Ms Williams played a huge role in my journey and helped me with everything from giving me life advice to helping me with castings and giving me honest feedback. She's an amazing teacher and an incredible person, and it has been an absolute pleasure to be her student.


What lessons have you learnt from the whole journey?

I’m still at the very beginning of the journey, so I still have a lot to learn, but the experience it gave me, I’d say, helped me become more confident as a person. I became more confident in myself. I know that that’s what I do best, and it defined me. I could also say that it taught me basic respect for people.


‘Working with people taught me to always be kind, always respect the people you’re working with - but also know your price and know your worth.”

What advice would be your give to someone who wants to become an actor?

Get engaged with everything you can, get all the experience you can. It’s normal to be scared to go to a casting or to meet people, being shy, being unsure in yourself – but this delays your progress.

I started with small and amateur films; but I think that’s a good place to start. And getting engaged with these short films, getting roles, is very easy. In Prague, probably it’s very good for starting to act because there are Facebook groups where castings get posted frequently. There are also film schools where you can go and get registered.

And don’t give up!