I moved to Finland 12 years ago because of a Finnish woman I met at the time when I was studying to become an engineer. After we got married and I finished my education, I started working as a technical assistant for a group of documentary filmmakers. A few years later, I started making my own short documentaries and applied to film school. The same year I got accepted, my wife left me.
I had adjusted myself to the rules of married life. I realized that my new context — the life of a single man in Helsinki – had rules too, but I didn’t recognize them. A year later while looking for them, I made a film about it called “Rules of Single Life.” The film was about me and my three friends, how to be single, and what are the rules of the game. It was not such an easy process since most of the time, I was in front of the camera, so the way we did it was to plan the scenes beforehand.
When the film premiered in Finnish theaters, my friend Atanas, a PhD engineer, seriously criticized it. According to him, what I had made is just emotionally driven content that does not help him or any other singles. Atanas had just been left by a woman after a 7-year-long long relationship. He thought she was the love of his life. The next two years, he concentrated on his work in Tampere University as a 3D engineer and didn’t think about women for few years. Then it hit him!
He was 32, without relationship or family. He started to research how to attract women, how to behave, what to say and most importantly, how to make them want you. As a true scientist he started to develop a perfect formula based on his own research and a few books.
Atanas wrote down his ideas and tested them according to the best traditions of empiric science. He found possible candidates on a dating site: “For the final test I found that four of them were qualified,” he said. Two months later, he was married, and they now have a baby.
The first shooting period of “Love & Engineering” was the nicest. In the same day we had the Lecture of Atanas and the blind dates at the restaurant (the beginning of the film). We had so much fun doing it that instantly I knew we had something special. The biggest challenge was the ending the film, specifically when and how to finish it. The voiceover at the end came by surprise. We where having a drink with Todor and suddenly he started talking about how his life changed after the experiments we did in the film. Then we went home and only with my voice recorder I knew, that was it.
Atanas’ story and my own experiences as a divorced engineer were the main motives behind “Love & Engineering.” Together they compliment one another. In trying to show what is possible for us to understand based on emotions, we found a way to show with numbers instead.
And here I want to conclude with my favorite engineer joke:
Two engineering students were walking across campus when one said: “Where did you get such a great bike?”
The second engineer replied: “Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said:
‘Take what you want.'”
The second engineer nodded approvingly: “Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn’t have fit.”
Tonislav Hristov is a Bulgarian filmmaker who has been based in Finland since 2001. “Love & Engineering” is Hristov’s fourth documentary, following “Rules of Single Life” about his divorce and subsequent single status, Soul Food Sisters (2013), which was nominated for Best Mid-length Documentary at IDFA 2013″ and “Family Fortune.” His work has been shown at IDFA, Hot Docs, Visions du Réel Nyon, Busan International Film Festival and many others. “Love & Engineering” had its international premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last week and continues to screen this week.