Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Short Film Trajectory #1

The Short film project is one of the important ones to be completed in the IV semester of the course. It has to be shot on film, in studio and should be under ten minutes in duration. Like most of our faculty I too believe that working under such restrictions helps a lot in the long run. Their reasons might be a bit different from mine, I think. When restrictions are imposed, a deadline for example or a duration or word count that has to be maintained, it brings a certain order and discipline to one's work. Method of working, I would say. It is rigorous and considering the amount of things every film maker envisages for their films in the beginning self restraint has to be practised a lot. The final product, however bad it may be will be one which has been stripped bare of adjectives if you equate it with writing. Don't adjectives have a beauty of their own? Well, yes, but when you are asked to describe something without using them you explore more on the form and craft which as far as a film maker is concerned are of prime importance.

The first draft of my script was completed some time in June. [The final draft -the myth called final draft, rather- will be published after the production]. Even before I sent it to the rest of the crew I had a person in mind for the lead role. She confirmed her aviability after reading the script. After the crew read the script the cinematographer, D Jeet and I held some discussions on line [I was at home, Kerala, all that time] about the general approach, treatment of space etc. He sent me the following stills for inspiration and refernce of the space he had on mind. We discussed these further.

The place I had on mind as reference was Sud Basu's home in North Kolkata where we had shot parts of our II demo film. You can read about it here. For the short film project the entire place where we shoot will have to be manually constructed in the studio. Quite frankly I find the process tedious, that of preparing a floor plan, constructing a working model etc. It has to be done, nevertheless. How does it help? It is important for a film maker to have an idea about the space and measurement. This information will help in planning the shots and not planning shots which are physically impossible in the given space.

D had not seen the place so he made a visit there yesterday. All of us in the crew will visit the place once more to take reference stills and proceed with the floor plan, casting etc. We had much earlier decided that we will be shooting black and white. The idea that i had on mind then was quite different but i think the new script will also be just fine in the medium. Don't think it matters much anyway. 

Short Film Trajectory #2 

Monday, 28 July 2014


I don't remember exactly when i started noticing advertisements. In highschool i remember singing ad jingles whenever we played antaakshari. 'washing powder nirma' was one among my favourites. I still nurture the secret desire to be an ad film maker one day. I think it's extremely difficult to make one and that it is possible to make strong political statements through them. Advertisements continue to be grossly sexist, casteist and racist most of the time. I have always been happy to see any of them break this norm. The most recent one i liked this way was one from tata docomo for their power recharges.

This 30 seconder says a LOT of things. First of all it addresses an issue which is very common. Men on road do this all the time. Sometimes it is a song which they start singing just as a girl approaches. It quickly leaves their lips as the girl moves out of vicinity as well. If someone questions them they have an excuse all ready. 'We were just singing a song. How can you stop us from singing a song?' Some funny ones have even sprung 'It's a democracy' at me. :) It is a way of hassling women which can be done very easily. You don't even have to be a singer. So what is the problem with someone singing a song? Well, believe it or not, we really don't like being sung to, unless it is a concert we paid a nice sum for. Not on the road from a stranger, please!
The advertisement also shows in a shot that the girls are not comfortable with the man's whistling. Below is th shot.

Then it shows that there is a girl who sees that the girls are not comfortable with it and then we see her reacting to it and how! It takes courage to raise voice is what the tag line says. It is obvious that what she did at that bus stop indeed takes courage. This act says a lot of things. For one it states a fact, that more often than not it is just one person or a minority who raises voice. It says that for such a minority to do so it requires courage and that they shouldn't be shunned and on the contrary should be respected. The second important thing the film says is that you might not always succeed the first time you raise your voice. In this situation, even after the woman screamed the first time, the man attempts to whistle again albeit a little weaker. Women who have been in similar situations know only too well that this is true. Most of the time the offenders try to defend themselves and even accuse the victim of madness, loose morals etc. In the film, the woman persists. She succeeds. It exudes energy and positive vibes.
Another thing to be noted is that the girls who were affected were watching as the woman was screaming and they saw the effect it had on the man. She set an example and we know that the girls will react the next time something of this nature happens. The last shot in the film is of the girl who reacted herself. We see that she feels good. She is smiling to herself.

There is a shot which i liked particularly in the film. It is that of this woman standing, almost ready to leap at him in case he repeated his act. She stands out in the place. She dominates it. It's lovely.

I also saw two other advertisements which i found a relief from the common ones for sanitary napkins. They are narrations along a lighter vein and not addressing periods as 'un dinom' 'ആ ദിവസങ്ങള്‍' etc [those days] and not equating success in various fields of work or play (rock climbing, journalism, dance, sports etc) with the quality of your sanitary napkin.Thanks to Rakesh Warrier for sharing them.
First Moon Party and The Camp Gyno

Looking forward to more of the kind. Gives me an ad-renaline rush ;-)

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sethuvamma Learns to Shoot

It has been a long vacation. I had decided that I would not go back to the institute till I finished writing the script for the upcoming short film project. The short film project is one of the most important projects in the IV semester in which we have to make a short film of fiction shot entirely in studio. I couldn't write for a long time. I had to change the script thrice before settling on the current topic which is of a girl moving in to a home in North Kolkata after completing her studies. However home sweet home is always the best place to be for me and I am plainly put lazy to go back. So I cancelled the confirmed tickets (they are hard to come by in Indian Railways) twice and just continued with my vacation but alas everyone has to go back to exactly those things they are running away from. In my case it is film making.
I found these bamboo holders in a corner of our dining room. Sethuvamma had bought them to plant saplings in. I thought they looked a little plain and decided to give them a face lift. The colours used are from camel. I don't know what they are called, it's called permanent and water resistant on the label. I got them when I asked for indian ink at Kumar's Concern. I used low quality brushes because once you use them with this paint it's more or less unfit for any other purpose. Make sure that you leave them in water for a long time after using. The paint is a bit sticky. Not a problem for those who take bath. For others, well, life goes on. :) 

This is the one.

I thought I would shoot and paint but when I tried doing it I realised I was just being ambitious and that it was not really possible. Sethuvamma was around doing her daily ritual of listening to christian devotionals. I asked if she could help me and she readily agreed. Ammas mostly agree to kuttis' requests. If not, you just have to lie on the floor and beat your legs, bawling. Or throw a similar tantrum. Make it a habit, ruin the lives of ammas. Yes!
It was the first time she was operating the camera. I loved instructing her. Made me feel all important. She was a quick learner. I am sure by the next attempt she will do a track shot or something. :)
So Sethuvamma learns to shoot and I give the bamboo holder a make over.



And here is Sethuvamma's tryst with camera.