Oleg Aliev is the author, film director and cameraman of 20 documentary films.
He has dedicated 15 years to exploring the culture of primeval tribes of hard-to-reach corners of the Earth. He lived 10 years in the hidden regions of tropical New Guinea and wandered with the Nenets on the coast of the Arctic Ocean He has filmed in China, Vietnam, Bhutan, India, Cambodia, and Kuwait. In 2001 was honored by the Golden Globe the prestigious award in the sphere of tourism for the setting up a monument of N. N. Mikhlikho-Maklai in Australia.
What is the most important for you, to be a traveler or an explorer?
The most important of course is to be a documentarian. My profession is to produce the film as the actual result of all the traveling, research and coverage. The pure travel is something different. I can stay without going somewhere for two years and feel free, the traveler is the one who has constantly to go and see different places without any special target. What I care for is the final result.
Are you the only one in Russia who can represent the GEO mark of the National Geographic Societry?
I am not the only one. There is another documentary maker, who, by the way, began working with me. Now, there are two of us from Russia. I was the first one and it was really hard. I was not just a man from the outside, I did films, published the articles and did some work on TV. They had a chance to see what I do, to think if my work would be financially profitable, scientifically and yet interesting for the audience; they also estimated the quality of the video. After almost five months they made a decision to let my team publish our works under the GEO logotype.
You make a huge amount of work form the very beginning till the actual issuing of the disk. I may be wrong but the audience sees only the resulting part. And this huge iceberg doesn’t bring you the popularity or loads of money. Why did you start all this?
It was a normal chose for me. I had savings, I lived a half of my life in Europe and different continents, so it was a natural way for me to start the documentary. If you often go to exotic places all over the world the thought that you have to produce something about that travel comes by itself. I could earn money only this way I had a choice to live a usual life and go travel somewhere twice a year as normal people, but I wanted to make travel my work. I knew I had to do it. This job taught me a lot of different things. It is not just you choose where to go, you have to make a certain idea about the future film and study all the material available then find sponsors, make a plan and all the necessary preparations on the place then actually go there make the material, come back spend time for putting it into shape and release it on the disks.
Is there anybody who would envy the way you live?
Yes, there are some. Especially when I come on TV, they say that I am happy to do what I want. They definitely see only the top of the mountain. This work demands self-discipline. I know only the few who tried to earn money the same way and made a success. The rest failed…
Why did they fail?
I think that happens because they don’t see the whole picture. They think of exotic places like Hollywood hotels, endless parties, expensive cars and first class flights. But when the real job starts it is absolutely different. You may be starving and parched with thirst, and continue working while nobody makes you go and shoot. I have met a lot of such people. And when I relied upon them and was disappointed. I spent a lot of money and time but had to send them back.
What do you pay attention more to people or their way of life?
It would be wrong if I just show the people and didn’t try to understand their culture and customs. I try to pay attention to every detail because they disappear. It doesn’t mean that they are dying physically; no, they die as a civilization. You cannot return what has passed. I was lucky sometimes to picture the tribes and their customs fifteen years ago and now that I return there with the better equipment they all have gone. The worlds are disappearing. It is the problem of animals, ecology, secrets of the history. If you don’t catch them now they will be gone forever.