Ilya Polyakov is A Ukrainian born, East-Coast raised, California transplant who loves to tell stories that are at times strange, fascinating and disturbing.
Though Ilya always enjoyed playing with the family camcorder it wasn’t until high school that he discovered the power of editing and started to shoot and edit skateboard videos with his friends. He attended Emerson College where he began to experiment as a filmmaker and made some of the best friends he has to this day.
After graduating in 2009 Ilya moved to LA at the height of the financial recession, and for lack of finding any real work he continued to do what he always did best: make stuff. Over the next decade he directed countless shorts, commercials, music videos and comedy sketches.
“How to Get $100 Million” was an idea I had while I was not thinking about making a film at all (as these things so often happen). Instead, I was thinking about self-betterment. It was a moment in which I was really trying to deal with my depression head on, and I came across this one book, I think it was Norman Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, which suggested writing down a very specific goal and then essentially manifesting it into reality by believing with every ounce of your being that it will be so (I’m paraphrasing here).
I figured hey, what the hell, can’t hurt! So I opened up my notebook and wrote down “I will have $1 million.” I looked at the words on the page and thought “well that’s lame. You can have ANYTHING you want and you write down $1 million?” So I scratched it out and wrote down “I will have $10 million.” I looked at it once more and cursed myself. What a loser. I scratched it out once more and wrote down “I will have $100 million.” I looked at my handiwork proudly. “That’s more like it!” Then I went into the other room and told my wife, “hey babe, I decided I’m going to have $100 million. By my 35th birthday.” I’ll spare you our subsequent conversation but suffice it to say she thought I was an idiot. So I took the dog out for a walk to let off steam, and that’s when it clicked. Way better than some half-baked dream; a STORY idea!! I rushed home and jotted it down, and that was how How to Get $100 Million was born!
While the film is partially a satire about naive hope and false idols, I believe that the principle behind it is fundamentally true: the potential to achieve anything we truly set our minds to. I believe the process of independent filmmaking is truly an embodiment of that idea. It is only through sheer willpower and stubborn belief that any project ever sees the light of day. The artist must push that proverbial stone uphill, and as they push it is as though the entire universe pushes back. But eventually, if those obstacles do not break the artist’s spirit, the artist brings their dream to fruition. That is a powerful notion and I carry it with me each time I have that foolish yet irresistible calling; to get back out there and make another film.