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The key element to making an award-winning documentary film comes down to the dedicated team behind the scenes. Having a team of filmmakers who fuse heartfelt passion, an extensive array of technical skills, and the relentless desire to bring justice, honor and respect to the real life story being told, are the foundations of strong documentary filmmaking.
Leading video artist Denis Ogorodov, who’s technical abilities range from working as a video editor and colorist to a motion designer, has worked on critically acclaimed projects such as the NBC’s “Inglewood Made: A Paul Pierce Story,” as well as for Global brands such as Coca-Cola, Google and Paypal.
Ogorodov is a talented creator who embodies equal parts artist and technical expert, a rare combination that have been integral to the success of a great many projects, including the award-winning 2020 documentary “The Donut King.”
“The Donut King” is a captivating narrative about the fascinating life of Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy, who migrated to the states and built a multi-million dollar empire baking America's most cherished sweet-treat; the donut.
Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Alice Gu (“Behind Enemy Lines,” “The Road to El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie”), the profound documentary was a phenomenal success, taking home the Special Jury Recognition award at the critically acclaimed 2020 SXSW Film Festival, amongst several other notable award nominations and wins.
Ogorodov says, “The team was a joy to work with, Alice Gu the director, Carol Martori the lead editor on the project had a very clear and unique story that I very much wanted to be a part of.”
The full length documentary, which The Hollywood Reporter calls “Heartwarming, yet unflinchingly honest.. an undeniably moving portrayal,” illustrates the rollercoaster ride of Ngoy’s life, and how gambling, fate, love and redemption helped to shape his incredible success.
Acting as the online editor on the documentary, Ogorodov was responsible for leading the entire production over the finish line, working across multiple technical layers and various production teams to seamlessly deliver a finished documentary.
He says, “As a video artist, this role is a natural fit, as I work on a daily basis with many of the same tools. You’re tasked with making sure the assets from different teams, such as the motion team, and the color grading house, are the latest version and work well together.”
With a tried and true reputation for coloring-grading and creating motion graphics for previous projects, it was relatively easy for Ogorodov to ensure that the workflow was seamless between departments, because of his intimate knowledge of post production workflows.
As with many projects, “The Donut King” was faced with setbacks due to Covid-19, however Ogorodov’s experience and knowledge allowed him to adapt the production’s workflow, which proved integral to finishing the film.
“I was also responsible for helping the team develop a workflow that worked during the pandemic,” he continues. “Having a workstation and a large storage pool, as well as a fast internet connection allowed me to transfer the project into a new remote workflow, while also keeping backed up versions, in the office for post-pandemic work.”
As the online editor Ogorodov ensured the film was in the correct format for distribution across multiple platforms, including for theaters, streaming platforms, and home entertainment as well as the festival circuit. While some of these responsibilities may seem less than glamorous, they are vital to actually getting the creative story out there.
Ogorodov says, “I was brought on board by producer and friend Jose Nunez to help oversee and handoff the film in the final stages of post production and on to festivals and distribution.”
His advanced tech skills ensured the most suitable cut-down edits were made for both US and international distribution, and that all VFX assets, color graded footage and approved licensed archival material was ready for cinema viewing.
The film’s producer Jose Nunez says, “[Ogorodov’s] extraordinary skills and wealth of experience in post production were essential to the success of the documentary. Having worked with other editors over the last few years, Denis by far exceeds all in talent both creative and technical, he is crucial to all of our post production operations and one of our most valuable assets.”
While Ogorodov has worked on a wide range of projects for massive multinational brands like Amazon and Coca-Cola, as well as numerous high profile sports spots, he admits that among his favorites was “The Donut King,” as it was relatable to his own personal story.
He explains, “Out of all of the projects I’ve done, ‘The Donut King’ is the story I most relate to as it is about an immigrant who succeeded… It is the first story I relate to in terms of the struggle he had and the immigration process.”
Ogorodov, who was born and raised in Milan, Italy, immigrated to the U.S. several years ago where he has made a strong name for himself, but his journey began long before he arrived in Hollywood. It was during high school that he began to develop a keen interest in photography and cinematography, and was greatly influenced by the renowned French photographer Cartier Bresson.
After attending the renowned Art Center College of Design in California, home to award-winning Hollywood alumni Michael Bay (“Armageddon”) and Roger Cavery (“Pulp Fiction”), he discovered his passion for creative storytelling, a field that he continues to shine in today.
“After having the opportunity to work in many different roles on set and in post production, I came to really enjoy the creativity and storytelling role in video editing, VFX and color grading,” he says.
“Storytelling is our most ancient technology, we used it to pass down knowledge, morals and our legacy. I think as a video artist I have a unique opportunity to reach out to many people that very few other mediums enjoy.”
His extensive repertoire of technical skills, which includes color grading, VFX compositing, design and motion graphics, allows him to magnify the story on screen in a noteworthy but subtle way that comes across ever so naturally to the viewer’s eye.
His passion for recreating stories of substance and truth coupled with his impressive tool belt of digital skills have established Ogorodov as a unique artist in the independent film and advertising industry.
Over the course of his career he has worked extensively with the Famous Group, which is known for creating visuals and videos that have been featured at 13 Super bowls, the NFL Draft, NBA finals and NHL All-Star Weekend, as well as for more than 90 professional sports teams and venues across America.
Through the Famous Group, Ogorodov landed a key role as the colorist on the 2020 sports documentary “Inglewood Made: A Paul Pierce Story,” which aired on NBC Sports Boston and was directed by Steve Davis.
The fan-favourite documentary illustrates the triumphant origins of the Boston Celtic’s legendary wing and all-star basketball player Paul “The Truth” Pierce, featuring rare interviews with his family, childhood friends and former coaches on his journey to becoming one of the NBA’s leading ball players.
Working as the colorist, Ogorodov’s main role was to create visual consistency throughout all of the project’s footage, and use color to help convey the mood of the film. The intricate details he applied to every single interviewee shot, meant that when contrasting between past and present times, there was a suitable and dedicated color tone to support the timeline of the story.
He says, “Working alongside Steve, the goal was to keep a consistent color palette that helped reinforce the core themes of the story, the gravitas, the discipline and the perseverance.”
Since airing on both the NBC Sports Boston network and their official website NBCSports.com, as well as YouTube and several other reputable social media platforms, the striking documentary has touched the hearts of many dedicated sports fans around the world.
“An underdog story is always compelling, however what made this story resonate with me, is how Paul cherishes and recognizes all the beautiful and patient people that helped him get to where he is today,” says Ogorodov.
“Having collaborated with the Famous Group on many exciting projects and stadium events, it’s hard not to be a fan of both the talented athletes and the armies of people that make it all happen.”
Since being a key figure in the creation of “Inglewood Made: A Paul Pierce Story,” Ogorodov has continued to collaborate extensively with the Famous Group, with the poignant video for the Milwaukee Bucks being one of his most recent projects. Proving the real power of video artistry, the video not only gets fans excited, but even more importantly, it draws attention to major issues in our society, such as the tragic murder of George Floyd.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
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