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KK - THE MESMERIZER :: View topic - TETE-A-TETE With Indie Indian Filmmaker Rohit Gupta
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TETE-A-TETE With Indie Indian Filmmaker Rohit Gupta
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Author:  zinah [ Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:30 am ]
Post subject:  TETE-A-TETE With Indie Indian Filmmaker Rohit Gupta

TETE-A-TETE WITH INDIE INDIAN FILMMAKER ROHIT GUPTA

One thing that strings Hollywood filmmakers Robert Rodriguez (made EL MARIACHI with one member crew), Kevin Smith (made CLERKS in a very modest budget) and New York-based Indian filmmaker, Rohit Gupta, is passion for cinema. Like the pioneers of independent films, Rodriguez and Smith, Gupta too made his dream of making a feature film with little or no resources; just a burning desire. Excerpts from a QnA with the filmmaker.

Q: I read that you shot your film LIFE! CAMERA ACTION – a full-length feature with a two-member crew? I don’t believe that…
Rohit Gupta: Me too (laughs) Frankly, I didn’t set out to make it with a two-member crew. We had two-three people rolled in and out for a brief period but we were consistent with only two. When I look back, I feel blessed it happened this way. I, anyways, have never understood the word impossible, now it simply doesn’t exist (laughs). Thanks to all involved for making it happen.

Filmmaker Rohit Gupta with DP Ravi Kumar

Q: For how long have you been making films? Is this your first film?
RG: I enrolled in THE New York Film Academy in late 2008 for a one-year film-making course with no experience. As a part of my first film assignment, we created ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER LIFE (ADAL) 2009 – a five-minute film shot in seven hours under a budget of $100 and edited on my Mac Book Pro. LIFE! CAMERA ACTION (LCA) 2010, is an evolution of a 10 minute semester project from my second assignment at the New York Film Academy.

Q: How did a 10-minute project turn into a feature film?
RG: I simply wanted to make a feature and experience first-hand what’s the hype all about. Besides “Evolution” in it’s strictest sense of the term. There was no intention of making a feature at the time at all. Originally, the co-writer of LCA sent me a 15-pager based on what was required for my assignment at NYFA (10-15 mins film). I simply went ahead and shot in around three and a half days in March 2009. But, when I edited the footage that was based on 15 pages I had a thirty five minutes film. This pleasantly surprised and intrigued me as I instantly realized that this entire process is an absolute evolution not confined by any rules since they didn’t work. As per the books, each page is equivalent to one minute of screen time, which clearly was not the case in front of me. Also, while traveling with ADAL to intl. fests in Cannes, UK and other places I met a lot of people and heard their stories of hardship and the heartbreaking challenges they had to go through to complete their films. I met people, who being in the industry for a long period of time were still unable to make one film. It made me wonder what’s the big deal about making a movie? Besides, I had an unbelievable amount of fun while putting together ADAL. Movies to me has always meant lots of fun and a cool thing to do. I was surprised with what I was hearing and felt there surely is a disconnect somewhere. On the other hand, I have been a big fan of Kevin Smith since I saw his first film ‘CLERKS’ (Smith is someone who made a black and white film on a shoe string budget that changed the face of independent film-making in the US). Then, there are others like Robert Rodriguez, who made EL MARIACHI in $7000 that became an instant success at the Sundance festival and globally, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and recently Oren Peli of PANORAMAL ACTIVITY, to name a few, who all did more or less similar things with faint experience, ultra low budgets, less or no formal education and defined their own paths. These were my inspiration. Also, having had this recent exposure to the international distribution setup, I knew that short films will have a tougher market penetration and no ROI (return on investment) for the distributors. The effort and process is the same in making a short or a long film so why not take this opportunity that has presented by itself along with the then frame of mind decided to go for a feature-length thus move in the direction to create a global platform for all involved with an attempt to provide value proposition for the audience, ROI for the distributors and establish a brand.

Q: How long did it take you to make the film?
RG: I spent 5 months working only on the film (including filming, editing, sound design, score, editing etc.)

Q: You shot the film on Panasonic DVX 100. Isn’t that outdated for a feature film?
RG: Great question. NYFA’s curriculum is great for beginners like me. They start off with 16mm camera’s, then SD, then HD depending on what stage of the course one is at. At this stage, we were at the Standard Definition phase and I had to shoot this assignment on DVX 100, which turned out to be a 35-min film, and by the time I decided to convert to a feature, the rest had to be shot on the same format for continuity and technical reasons. So, changing the format was not a choice unless I shot the entire film again. My goal here was to only put a ‘FEATURE’ film together with what I had and first-hand experience. I needed to figure things such as low resource availability conditions because I knew then, with more resources including higher technology, big budget etc, the final image will only enhance. Actually, shooting on DVX was a blessing in disguise. Surely there are many technical limitations for eg: Up conversion from SD to HD or 16mm/35mm impacting quality loss which limits theatrical projections and wider audience reach as not many theatres are equipped for digital projections. Besides, since this entire project was purely a personal experiment and an attempt to put a film together, I wanted to experience everything first-hand.



Q: How did you manage to get Bollywood singer KK to sing for your student film?
RG: I have been a fan of KK for a long time. I knew when I make a film, I will
want him for sure. I got his number from a friend, picked up the phone, dialed the number, his assistant Hitesh was very warm, cordial and immediately connected me with him. I told KK that I want only him. I told him if he won’t agree, I will sing it myself. I think he got worried about his future prospects when he heard I may do it and immediately agreed (laughs). On a serious note, the conversation lasted for less than five minutes. I called him, he liked what I said and I liked what he said. In his words, “I bring the same passion that you bring, I will do it!” That made my heart smile and felt pure feelings have pure connections. Such are my experiences and these only encourage me.


Q: When do you plan to release the film?
RG: We are honored that LCA is invited for screening and has its world premiere on Nov 14, 2010, in NYC at the oldest and most prestigious South Asian film festival in NYC – Mahindra Indo American Arts Council Film Festival 2010. Besides, global distribution is not in my control today. I want our creations to reach people only if it’s worth their time and money and this decision is in the hands of the movers and shakers responsible to make this happen and bring it to them, the distributors. All I have done is sent a copy of the film to international festivals and if someone likes it and wants to bring it out that will be cool.

Q: What is your next plan?
RG: Depends on when and what excites me (laughs). Like I said to a close friend the other day, “ADAL was a teaser, LCA… a trailer, movies are yet to be made…Picture abhi baaki hain mere dost” (laughs).

Q: What does filmmaking mean to you?
RG: Magic!

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