‘The Search’ selected by National Film Board of Canada for Filmmaker Assistance Program

More good news is coming our way with the short film ‘The Search.’ It has been selected by The National Film Board of Canada for Filmmaker Assistance Program. NFB will give their in-house studio/personnel support to do some high end post production stuff. NFB will give it’s name behind the production which brings lot of credibility to our film. And, finally, it also opens up distribution possibilities. We are really glad that a short film made with modest expectations have covered so much ground. It do provide a much yearned affirmation about our own worth as writers and filmmakers.

‘Sun rise’ story of a music video

I saw a music video directed by a friend today. I am not able to get it out of my mind. Indians are bombarded incessantly with all kind of visualisations of songs. Mostly it is about boys and girls and puppy love. Or some hyper-energetic dance moves. Few are the ones where we actually go back to the music video to examine the visuals again for their own merit. In this case, I was forced to. In every re-viewing I found something subtle hidden masterfully in terms of props or visuals or story elements. It is a small puzzle box in itself.

I found the song and singer soulful with my limited knowledge about music.  And I liked the actors- I realise that an actor can convey what he feels by the way he looks at and hold a guitar- without the crutch of dialogue.

And my jaw dropped when I heard the budget of this video. Budget is no excuse any more for not having a technically sound feature film or short film or music video. Congrats to all those involved in technical aspects of this short for pulling this off. They also deserve credit for the fact that visuals doesn’t fall into the eternal music video trap of trying to wrestle away from the song with its own power display of smartness.

I would try to post a link to the song as soon as I get a post-able one.

Two short film contests

1) The Bombay Sapphire imagination series and Tribeca Film Festival present a short film script contest where you are to write a short film script based on a template provided by Geoffrey Fletcher (scribe of ‘Precious’). Five winners will be chosen and the writers will get an opportunity to work on the production of these scripts. The link is here.

2) An initiative by LA India film council, the second short film promises contest winners 1000 dollars and opportunity to get work experience in a ‘major film production company.’ Open to film and media students in India and LA. The link is here.

He said…she said: a short film review

This short film review of mine was first published here at shortz


(Major spoilers…)

How do you dramatise the malady of modern relationships? When I read the synopsis of this short – ‘Marriages are made in heaven… what happens to it by the time it materialises on earth?’- I was curious about this. But after watching the short, it  appears that the logline is a little too generic for what happens with the couple in the short.

But if you don’t approach ‘He said… she said’ with any prior misconceptions, it does reward you. What  the back bone of this short film really is the brilliant acting by the lead characters especially Prashant Narayan. Until I googled him, I didn’t realise that he is a successful film actor. He deserves to be. The improvisations he manages on screen makes it a real pleasure to watch this short.
Another strength of this short is the production values. The quality and destiny of your short is inevitably linked to the quality of your equipment and expertise of those who handle them.
I liked the basic idea. And the twist in the end is very well set up with the calendar, the character of the husband who repeatedly tries to joke about everything in the first segment etc. The first half of the film where the wife tries to do a cross word puzzle while the husband is busy on his laptop is infused with a certain credibility. Even though the conversation is deceptively simple and mundane, it is very tough to achieve that in terms of writing, directing and acting. The second segment (after husband admits to the relationship) is also well made but I felt that even though it has come out beautifully, cannot claim the kind of simplicity and credibility of first half. There are beautiful lines out there (‘We are both travelling in the same boat but with different people’) but it is difficult to believe that immediately after admitting to an extramarital relationship from both sides, a husband and wife will talk (poetically) like this . At least on the same day of the revelation.
My biggest problem with this short is the ‘talking heads’ syndrome. With the subject matter, definitely it is going to be dialogue dependent (even though a much more daunting challenge would have been to use the pauses and silences well within the time constraints of a short film without the dialogue being too exposure heavy or meandering) . But some how an effort doesn’t appear to be made to break the monotonous nature of the camera angles and repeated visuals of heads of characters talking into the camera. Interestingly, it is only for a very short duration both the characters are together in the same frame even though they are talking to each other incessantly through out the film. Don’t know whether this was intentional but at times we don’t even feel they are in the same room. Towards the end, the amount of light exposure and tint of light is different for these characters even though they are standing near to each other. There is a lack of fluidity in the execution and shot selection of the scene where wife closes the laptop and husband grabs her hand.  But I liked the decision to abruptly start the second part of the film after that such that husband has already confessed to his extra marital relationship.
The title of the short film could have been better.

Ek Raat: Review

This short film review of mine was originally published here in shortz.

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

What really makes this short click is the folklore milieu that it has adopted to tell the story. By avoiding the urban setting and also ‘ghost mansions,’ film maker has been able to give a different feel to it. The central image does stick- that of the lonely ghost on the bullock cart helping wayfarers in the jungle.

Obviously the greatest strength of ‘Ek Raat’ is the twist and how well it is executed. But the cost the writers paid for it is the inconsistency in the character of the ghost and the stranger. If Chandru is the ghost why is he so scared while travelling through the night? He starts at every sound, repeatedly talks to himself trying to allay his fear of the ghosts etc. It is easy to understand that it was done this way to increase the level of surprise at the end. Here writers take an easy way out -instead of building his behaviour in the jungle in a way that it plays either way i.e. in the first viewing it appears as if he is this scared villager but when you go back to it after the reveal in the end, his behaviour is still consistent to that of a ghost roaming in the jungle. In the same way, there is a shift in the behaviour of the stranger too. While with chandru in the jungle, he appears calm, playful, unaffected by the scary situation. The next day he appears as an earnest, down to earth character who is not able to hide his emotions. This was also something that writers could have worked on- making him scary when actually he is the same earnest, sincere down to earth character rather than changing the character to suit the situation. Continue reading

Light: A short film review

This review of mine was originally published in Shortz.

The good thing about this short is the universality of the experience it is trying to talk about. The compart-‘mental’ising power of technology and its effect on human relations has been conveyed through a simple story albeit one that happens in every home. Its really a good concept which I could easily identify with. But it is undermined by the lack of effective techniques so as to provide the necessary impact.

 ‘Light’ does not take its lighting seriously. When there is supposedly only one light source in the whole house that is the candle, the shadows fall in all the wrong places. At times two shadows are visible, pointing towards two different light sources. When family members come into the room or when grandma lights the candle, the shadows betray the mistake. A simple thing that could have been done was to fix the camera position in an upper level in most of the shots so that the candle is not visible. Then one could have put the lighting source on the table itself. Continue reading