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Russian cosmonaut-turned film actor: "Movie-making is a thrill"

Anton Shkaplerov said that memorizing dialogues and then repeating them again and again in dozens of takes was a rather strenuous task

MOSCOW, November 15. /TASS/. Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, currently serving on the International Space Station, has shared with TASS some of his most striking impressions of starring in feature film scenes onboard the orbital outpost earlier this autumn. Shkaplerov, who holds the rotating position of the ISS commander, said that memorizing dialogues and then repeating them again and again in dozens of takes was a rather strenuous task. Besides, the constant play of light and shade on board made the moviemakers’ task especially tricky to cope with.

"Naturally, there were problems. I’m not a professional actor. First, I had to memorize the dialogue. I’ve never done that in my life," Shkaplerov said.

When videos are recorded on the ISS, he explained, crewmembers usually either say everything in their own words or read from a teleprompter.

"In this particular case, we were supposed to not just recite a short poem, but to memorize and enact dialogues from the script," Shkaplerov said.

Recording dozens of takes was another tiresome task, he went on to say.

"Quite often the director wished to have a certain phrase pronounced with a certain intonation. One simple sentence had to be repeated a dozen times or more until the director decided it sounded right. Also, the lighting of the improvised film set kept changing all the time," Shkaplerov recalled.

The station’s portholes, he explained, were the main source of light. The frequent change of dawn and dusk forced film director Klim Shipenko to use the available lighting equipment now and then.

"He had to turn on and adjust the lights all the time to make the changes of light and shade not so easy for future film viewers to notice," Shkaplerov said.

By and large, he concluded, the film-making experience was a thrill.

Space movie called Challenge

The space drama under the working title Challenge (its Russian equivalent also has another meaning, House Call) is a joint project of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, TV Channel One and Yellow, Black and White studio. To record some scenes for it onboard the ISS actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko underwent a special training course to be able to accompany professional cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov on a space mission. Their spacecraft, Soyuz MS-19, blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on October 5. The film narrates a story of a young female surgeon who agrees to go into space to save a cosmonaut’s life. Also starring in some of the film’s episodes were cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov. Novitsky, Peresild and Shipenko returned to the Earth in the descent module of the Yuri Gagarin spacecraft (Soyuz MS-18). Shkaplerov and Dubrov will stay on the ISS till the spring of 2022.