Director / CrewIamA VFX Artist and Filmmaker who worked in The Jungle Book, Pirates of Caribbean or SUMER shortfilm. AMA!
Oct 31st 2016 by steppenlovo • 41 Questions • 204 Points
My name is Igor Vovkovinskiy. I am a proud Ukrainian, who lives in the US, for medical reasons. I was named the Tallest Living man in 2010 by the Guinness Book of World Records on the Dr. Oz show. And it so happens that after Leonid Stadnyk died in 2014, I became the Tallest Ukrainian. I did an AMA about 2-3 years ago, however, tons of people on Reddit are asking me the same questions, so I would like to do it again.
I know many people don't know how to Google :) so I'll tell you, my height is 7ft 8.33in and you want to know my weight? Well, my friends, it's none of your business! :) Haha
I will be posting some photos during the AMA, when I choose to do so, however, please do not request photos.
Let's do this.
Thank you all for the questions. I must go. If you wish, you can follow me on Twitter, @Igor2tall I am sorry if I didn't answer your question, or didn't answer it the way you wanted it answered. A couple quick facts. I love to watch MMA, huge UFC fan. I love my homeland, Ukraine, Слава Україні! I love fishing and reading. PC Games, I love Fallout 3 & 4, wish I could get Battlefield 1, but it's way too expensive, and I don't have an income, so that's out of the question. Have a great Sunday!
UPDATE 1 - 10/30/2016 - 11:30PM Central Time LADIES & GENTLEMEN!! I am still fairly new to Reddit, so I am not sure how to keep updating you. I think, perhaps, updating the OP is best? Your response has been overwhelming. Thank you soooo much for all the kind words, suggestions, offers of help. I can't keep track of anything. I will try to answer as many questions as I can. http://i.imgur.com/cdmKp1M.jpg
Much respect. Is there anyway you would be interested in working on a short film to put into film festivals? I am part of a team that is doing that currently and we would love your input. We currently have a video with 8 million views that we are proud of but we want to go into more serious stuff. (Fantasy action)
What are some of the most common misconceptions Americans have about Buddhism?
Hey, thanks! I'm always happy to give feedback to any kind of artistic project. However, I'm spending so much time at work and with my new film that I have to take part of my sleep time... Good luck mate!
There are quite a few. Firstly I'd like to state that "Buddhism" covers a wide area both geographically and in time, and just like there are a variety of types of Christianity that developed over time, so to are there a large variety of Buddhist traditions, some of which have little connection to each other except for some of the most basic teachings of the Buddha. I will try to be as general as possible in my answer but I do admit to coming from one particular tradition which holds importance on the oldest teachings, so much of my answer may not be 100% accurate across all traditions.
One of the Biggest is regarding the Dalai Lama,whom most westerners, including myself in my pre-buddhist days, viewed as a sort of Buddhist Pope. This is in fact far from the truth as he represents only one school of Tibetan Buddhism which accounts for about 6% of all Buddhists. Like most westerners however the Dalai Lama was my first exposure to Buddhism, and is a respected monastic and public figure.
There is no centralization of power in Buddhism, with the exception of some Buddhist countries like Thailand where government and Religion are so intermeshed that monks hold government ranks and get titles. These powers however hold no sway outside of said countries and have no relation to the actual monastic rules of living passed down for 2600 years. Generally speaking every monastery, and every monk, is a "free agent", so long as they are following the basic vinaya, rules for the monks, and this is essentially done on the honor system. There are no bishops and cardinals and popes, no inquisitions and no excommunications.
Another large one is that Westerners get hung up on rebirth and other things related to the teachings. I think this stems from a judeo-christian upbringing. I myself did 12 years of catholic school, was an altar boy, youth group leader, the whole thing, so when I speak about these things I'm including myself and my own misconceptions as a westerner. In these religions you had to believe, or else you were a sinner, going to hell, etc. I'm a Buddhist monk, and i can't say I 100% believe in rebirth, and thats ok. The Buddha teaches us to question even our most deeply held views and beliefs, like the belief in a soul, a permanent self, let alone something like rebirth. We are called to come and see the truth for ourselves by examining our own experience deeply, and with insight begin to see things as they truly are, not how we wish them to be.
I suggest to many people who are interested in buddhism but get hung up on these kinds of things, that it is ok to shelve them and practice, as you will see the benefits of meditation and living by virtuous principles in the immediacy of your daily life as your mind changes and you become less judgmental, of yourself, and others.
I'll close out by also saying that due to the previously mentioned Judeo-Christian backgrounds, people are looking for something that is "like" a religion, but what you can try to get away with and not call it a religion, but a "philosophy" and things like this. Buddhism has come down to us in Asia through 2600 years and has become a religion, complete with all the trappings of it, rituals and ceremonies etc.
Each person doesn't have to take Buddhism on as a religion, and in deed people can remain whatever religion they were raised and take aspects of Buddhism that help them, this is common.
You also see today in the 6 Billion dollar mindfulness industry that it is also common to take the teachings of the Buddha and make them clinical and scientific. There is a wide range of practice going on, from the religious to the secular to the scientific, all of which stemming from the teachings of a bald headed guy in robes 2600 years ago.
ohhh jeez...when I go to visit someone, pretty much every time I will hit my head on one of the light fixtures
Do you ever go to the mall of America?
There is book store there where I think I may come across your path a number of years ago. Short story, as I was looking down thumbing through a book I saw this ginormous foot step next to mine. So I look up to see a mountain of a man. I can only guess this was you, because this gentleman was huge. Pulling books off the the top display shelves with ease, which would have taken anyone else a ladder.
Quite impressive anyway. Have a good weekend.
One the best resources is trying to get a vimeo staff pick with your pitch/shortfilm/proof of concept. That is the best platform to reach most of the producers and managers.
When did you discover that VFX was what you wanted to do for living?
and a fat guy who everyone mistakes for buddha
Lol Bhante, I agree with everything you said, but isn't that supposed to be the next Buddha Maitreya?
Also, congratulations and best wishes on your path!
Whats the best thing and the worst thing about being that height?
When I was 22 or 23 Officially. I was a personal trainer in a gym but I had always in the background all this 3D stuff waiting for a chance. Since I was kid spent a lot of time doing comics, draws, stopmotion films and playing tons of video-games... But I didn't see it as a professional option until that moment.
Are the medical issues mostly associated with your joints?
The Jungle Book final battle between ShereKan and Baloo. I was leading that sequence in the Layout department and was quite intense. Final sequences are always tricky but impressive ones.
I would say also that the personal project I'm doing right now is being quite exciting in terms of ambitions. I'm trying to raise the bar of my past projects, and that makes every single step epic.
What are the health concerns associated with being so tall? Do doctors estimate that your life expectancy is likely shorter than that of a man of average height?
It sounds so cliché, but the amount of people, resources and time you need to achieve every single shot is absolutely insane...
The Jungle Book battle between Baloo and Sherekan was a pain in terms of distances, continuity of all the animals, cameras and enviroment... Regarding my personal projects, the sequence in the city of SUMER was quite hard. The more objects you have in the scene, the more stressful became everything.
How not very different it is from lay life. People often expect that when they escape to a monastery in the woods they are leaving the world behind, but this is far from the case. Everything you find in the outside world you will find in a monastery, because you bring your own baggage and issues to it like everyone else. You can go out to the woods and be in a nice, silent, peaceful place, yet your mind is chaos, a war zone.
Everyone, everywhere, has what Buddhists call the defilements of greed, hatred, and delusion in our mind, this causes us to not see clearly and not do the most skillful actions in our quest for happiness and peace. This means that there is no place on earth you can escape to and escape greed, hatred, and delusion, even if you are the only living thing within 100 miles, you are still with yourself.
people also tend to think that monks do nothing but sit around and meditate all day, where as we do hours of work on a daily basis and have responsibilities and chores like washing dishes, chopping and managing wood, fixing buildings, etc. Now there may be some places in the world where the monks DO do nothing but meditate all day, but they are in the minority and quite rare.
I don't function, that's the problem. Also, my doctors will not give me enough meds, but I do not want to be on these frikin pills, they kill so many people. But in Minnesota I have no other choices.
Do you have a bachelors in anything art related? (Vfx, animation, etc
Do you believe that Theravada is the only original/most authentic tradition of Buddhism?
Thanks! Keep going, a good balance between technical and artistic stuff is always a safe bet. Good luck!
At the risk of repeating myself the amount of people you need to deliver one single shot... Storyboarders, Screenwriters, Concept Artists, Modelers, Texturers, Riggers, Lighters, Layout Artists, Crowd Artists, Animators, Technical Animators, FX Artists, Compers, Matchmovers, Look Dev people, 3Dmp... The list is endless, and I'm only talking of Computer Graphics effects.
Most of the cases, you can't see these departments well organized in the credits.
Do you know what caused your great height? Was it a tumour on the pituitary gland, like many other extremely tall individuals?
That's a vfx Supervisor / Director job :)
Do you want/need a short sidekick? Where shall I send my resumé?
Not me, but definitely some of my colleagues that work on set. Pretty sure some actors are amazed by our digital doubles. :)
How has your general sense of happiness and wellbeing changed since ordination?
I'd say that because I'm doing something and following a path I feel are important, and much more worthy then basically anything else I could be doing, There is a happiness and contentment related to that.
otherwise becoming a monastic and truly attempting to live this life is very very hard, by far the hardest thing I've ever done, so It's not like I'm in some sort of happily wedded bliss, it's always sobering to face reality :).
Also, how has celibacy affected you? I maintain long streaks with zero sexual activity and it always makes me feel powerful and confident.
I was fairly celibate(maybe 2-3 times a year if that) for a number of years before coming to the monastery due to the meditation practice severely lessening my desire to find a mate and have a relationship and all that.
I've not ever felt this mythical magical "uber amounts of energy" from having no sexual activity though that I hear people talk about.
Yes, I need someone to help me fight crime. Send your resume to my twitter @Igor2tall
I do vfx too! But for games. I know they are pretty different animals, but a lot of real time effects sort of follow tech from movies, and video games loves hiring movie guys. I guess my question is what sort of film techniques should I learn to be a better game vfx artist? What sort of fundamentals are useful to keep practicing?
Celibate? What does celibacy have to do with finding zen?
To me it would seem like the opposite would be true.
Hey, there was a documentary shown on tv here a few weeks ago about gigantism which you were featured in. I remember you said in it that you were a bit of a film buff, what's your favourite movie at the moment? what was the documentary process like?
Nah, it is just a wide range of salaries. Some of them underpaid, some overpaid, some just normal. Another stories if u compare vfx salaries with hollywood stars.
Well, I think the problem is not about using cgi or practical effects, is just about how to use it, when and why. You can see shitty practical effects, as well as cg ones. The percentage of use of this usually is depending of the budget and vision of the director.
Before working in the film industry I animated cancer cells, bacteria, viruses and any kind of disgusting things you can imagine.
Good question... mmm... cheesy one but true, trust in your ideas and your way of doing things... that is a valuable skill.
Mmmm... Matrix was one of the reason I got crazy with this, so that's the winner. Would love also to touch a Star Wars movie, let see how it goes.
existential metaphors that aren't literal, but describe what life is like.
Like I said above, this is mostly a more modern view, especially in the west, but some mahayana traditions apparently see things this way as well I just found out recently.
if they are literal, how can we substantiate such claims?
you can't, only with you own experience on the path, through deep levels of concentration and insight. The Scientific method has a very hard time talking about the mind and consciousness, let alone other existences.
But, if these states of existence of Samsara are taken literally, then they make fundamental claims about our reality which would have major consequences for science and philosophy.
I don't think so, a famous Astrophysicist said " I don't think the universe is just stranger then we imagine, I think it's stranger then we CAN imagine". If you look at astrophysics, quantum physics, Multivese theory and all that... the possibilities that are born out by the math are imo much stranger then various states of existence,that we can't happen to see(nor can we see most of the wave lengths of light). The far majority of the universe is made up of something we don't even know what it is, so it's called Dark Matter, not to mention "dark" energy.
Frankly I don't see it as such a stretch, considering multiverse, various dimensions etc, for there to be various beings and various ways to exist. Not only that but the Buddha also spoke of world-systems, ie galaxies of worlds with various beings etc.
So this is why I keep an open mind, I've always been open minded and agnostic, and it's always served me well. I've never gotten to caught up on these things, although I am well aware that rebirth and kamma are major hang-ups for many westerners.
An improved Gif :)
How do you feel when you see a terrible movie with great vfx? Do you feel bad for those artists? Do the artists care about the ending quality of the movie?
Thanks for the ama, fascinating read. What are your thoughts on the use of marijuana for spiritual practise, specifically related to ancient yogis ingesting it before their yoga sessions?
I as because I smoke and do yoga 2-3 times per week and find that I locate and release anxieties and stress far more vividly and with much more intensity than yoga sober.
Sometimes it is more technical than others. But despite we have a lot of repetitive tasks, there is always some "hero" shots that grabs you and keeps your motivation up.
video games, tv etc are all entertainments. It is against the rules to partake in these kinds of things as they are distractions. They are however among the most minor of rules, even among the minor rules that are confessed.
Sometimes when you are out in the world, or visiting family and friends, you can't really escape these things, so its really more about desire and intention.
I've known monks to watch movies, but it's not something that is really condoned. Some traditions of Buddhism are much more loose though and there are Shambala monks who watch movies, play baseball etc.
it is fine though for monks to watch non-fiction. We can watch stuff about history and science and things like this, but even still we have to watch how we are using it and how much. there are monks who go to college and get their degrees and even PH.Ds.
Monks can have hobbies, I've known a few that draw, some tinker with mechanical stuff, others write. I was told by a senior monk when asked for Advice that a hobby is a good thing for a monk to have.
most of what I do is buddhist related, I do videos, write on a blog, work with a media team for the monastery etc. I also like to learn about astronomy and science. I'm currently learning spanish as well as the buddhist language of Pali for ancient text learning.
I used to, in grade school and middle school.
Yeah, the new one. It's being great :)
Can't tell so much until is released though :P
Have you ever been asked by to get an item on the high shelves while in a store?
We don't know the "deep" Hollywood so I can't answer that question.
Did you work on Pirates 3? Why didn't anyone stop the giant lady from turning into crabs? It was so stupid. Like, ruining the franchise, stupid.
What's with the shaved heads and the robes?
And any Lord that's going to punish you for eating garlic seems a bit petty to me. Are there other rules that you believe are odd/nonsensical?
Do you have a record of your progression of growth? Has it been constant or have there been phases where you shot up a lot?
Hahaha. Nope. I worked on the fifth one. Can't remember that moment though...
How big is your bed? Also (sorry if your uncomfortable with this) how does the sex work?
my bed is about 9ft by 6ft. Well... I read a book about sex, I can send you an amazon link if you want. :)
What does a 7ft 8 inch man do for a career and how has your height helped/hindered your work life?
I haven't been able to have a normal work life, I haven't worked in a traditional setting since 2005, mostly because I had to have so many surgeries, but also because I have excrutiating pain in my legs and feet.
Growing up in Austin, Minnesota I remember seeing TV reports about you. I was happy that you immigrated to this country so you could receive medical treatment.
Since I have to ask a question, what is your favorite NFL team?
Hello!! Well... if I say anything else, my house will be egged, so Minnesota Vikings!! No, but really, I like the Vikes.
Have you ever met the shortest man in America? If so, what was it like?
nope, never met the shortest person, however in college I had a little person in one of my classes, she was about 3ft 8in. It felt strange, but I never dwell on things like that, because I'm sure she is sick of people starring at her, just like I am sick of it.
not my choice, it's what I had to have at the time to heal my feet
my mother is about 5ft 6in, and my dad is about 6ft
What is the one thing you wish you would be able to experience that you can't because of your height? And also as a fellow Ukrainian living in western country does people ever comment when you make бутерброд? If you do so of course :)
I want to be able to just get into a car and drive. Right now, I desperately need to replace my vehicle. But Ford will not answer my tweets nor my calls. None of the dealers in MN, WI, or IL have the Ford Transit passenger van in the size I am looking for. I can't fit into any other type of vehicles.
Я себе сделал бутерброд час назад, украинский хлеб и кровянка. Так вкусно! Здесь люди не понимают кровянку.
Have you done or have you ever been asked to do any kind of film or television work? With all the new Star Wars movies coming, I'd bet they'll need a really tall guy to play....something.
Are you married? If you are, how tall is your wife? Do you care about the height of the women you date? How tall was the tallest women you've dated and how short was the shortest?
Also, how have you modified your living spaces to be more comfortable? I know my parents have their kitchen counters raised and it's really nice.
I am not married. Most women I've dated have been above 6ft, some taller than 6ft 6in.
We built our home with some things modified, our doors are tall, I have a large shower, and our ceilings are tall. I have a specially made bed, about 9ft long and 6ft wide
70's 80's 90's Rock. Tom Petty, Clapton, Eagles, John Mellencamp, Doors, Nirvana, stuff like that