Since leaving Ukraine as a child, Igor Kreyman has been searching for a way to find more meaningful human connections. Growing up in Sydney, he struggled to conform to societal norms, and sometimes felt misunderstood with his out-of-the-box thinking. When he discovered acting later in life, Igor found a way to explore human emotion, empathy and motivations that proved grounding.
Igor is also the founder of The Human Connection Movement, where he facilitates transformative experiences that allow people to experience a deeper human connection and find a sense of belonging.
Tell me about how you came to live in Australia.
My parents left Ukraine (former USSR) when I was just five years old. We lived temporarily in Italy awaiting visas and deciding what would come next. We planned to head to New York when my father met an old friend from Odessa who was on his way to Sydney. He spoke of the strong Russian community in Sydney, and my parents changed their mind. So we came to Australia instead of going to America.
What was it like settling into life in Australia?
I grew up in Randwick and then Vaucluse. It was difficult some days because I was quite eccentric and an out-of-the-box thinker. I didn’t really conform to social norms or always agree with certain beliefs. I couldn’t understand them as a kid. I sometimes felt lonely and misunderstood, but I did have an incredible pocket of friends growing up with whom I shared some great experiences.
I was looking for different opportunities to express myself even though I felt very supported at home and in my community.
Growing up in Australia was difficult some days because I was quite eccentric and an out-of-the-box thinker.
Has acting helped you find those opportunities?
Acting definitely brought me out of my shell and gave me the chance to explore humanity, emotions and empathy. My father encouraged me to get into acting as he had wanted to perform when he was younger. He thought it could help me overcome my shyness. Because he planted the seed of the idea in me, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue this craft.
Tell me how you came to be in the movie One Less God.
I was living in Los Angeles and has just signed with a great agent when I had to come back to Australia to renew my visa. I had intended to head straight back to LA, but I saw a casting call for One Less God. I auditioned and got the part.
What’s One Less God about?
It’s an independent production, inspired by the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. It’s a humanist movie, so it really kind of grips you and takes you towards the edge of your seat. It stirs deep emotions and makes you think about the choices you’ve made and whether they’ve served you and your community. It makes you think about whether you’re helping or hindering yourself when moving forward in society.
Image: Igor in character as Selim
How did you connect with your character, Selim?
Selim is a teenager who grew up in Turkey and is confused about his identity and place in the world. He feels a bit alienated, and I think I felt that way as well in real life, not just as an immigrant, but as a person who has always had a deeper yearning for connection. I was able to draw on my past experiences while playing Selim in the movie. Past experiences have given me great contrast to explore my characters and myself.
I frequently use visualisation and imagination exercises to get into character. I use elements from my life and substitute those experiences into the role, so it resonates with me on a personal level, even though I may not have lived through those specific experiences.
What was it like filming One Less God?
It was my debut feature film and one of my most exciting and happy times on a set. I really connected with the director, Lliam Worthington. He is a very giving and supportive director. We are great friends now and he is a mentor of mine. The whole set worked as a collective, caring for and supporting each other. I felt so safe and calm on set and was able to switch in and out of character comfortably.
It was my debut feature film and one of my most exciting and happy times on a set.
Image: With director Lliam Worthington
Tell me about the organisation you founded, the Human Connection Movement.
I started the Human Connection Movement to help people connect with each other in a safe and supported way. We use eye gazing as a powerful therapy method to experience deeper levels of connection. The process allows people to satisfy their innate biological desire to be seen, heard, valued and understood.
We started about three years ago as a grassroots movement, and so far we’ve held events in over 13 countries. We’re tapping into what it really means to be alive and what sustains us as human beings-the quality of human connection.
Describe what your ideal world looks like.
My ideal world is where everyone collaborates, shares resources and sees each other more collectively than separate. It’s going beyond our limiting beliefs, rituals and dogmas that stop us from feeling connected.
One Less God premiered at the 2017 Dances With Films festival in Los Angeles, winning the Grand Jury Prize and Industry Choice Award. The film also won Best Picture at the Byron Bay International Film Festival (2017) and was shown at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (2018). A special red-carpet screening was held this month at the Entertainment Quarter in Sydney.
One Less God is showing throughout October and November in selected cinemas.
Header image credit: Kurt J Tilse
Other images credit: Supplied