How To ‘Pitch’ Your Story? Hear from Vikramaditya Motwane, Shridhar Raghavan, Kamlesh Pandey & Ram Mirchandani

F.i.g.h.t C.l.u.b

Film Writers Association (FWA) recently did a workshop on “pitching your story”. Filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane, screenwriter Shridhar Raghavan & Kamlesh Pandey, and producer Ram Mirchandani shared their ideas and experience about the process.

It’s great that FWA is finally taking some initiatives that will help the new writers. Just wish the video/audio was done professionally. And big thanks to the person who transcribed the entire video.

Watch the video or click here to read the transcript.

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Shock and AWE, provided by David Donihue

Whatever! Simply whatever you want to learn, The Internet is the answer. Nowadays, it is simple for us to just type a query in the search bar and get the answers in an instant. Living is far less challenging now, isn’t it? Well, not exactly. Even though The Internet is full of information, not all of it is worthy of your time. It might not even be true for that matter. In such times, I can’t express the joy when I discover something that is truly brilliant. Something that all of us young filmmakers can aspire to do some day!

1.Take Me Home

Just some time ago I discovered this music video by David Donihue. I was astonished by the positivity it has to offer. Not one of us gets everything so easily. And the way you deal with failure is what defines your character. There are two things that matter in the world. The situation and your reaction to the situation. Rather than revealing anything more about the contents of the music video, I’d just like to say that this video was uploaded just about 12 days ago and it has already crossed the 300,000 mark. Go ahead and watch it!

2. Shock To The System

Upon doing some research I found a few more videos by the same director. This time, it’s a totally different subject and the treatment will leave you astonished. A thought provoking concept, conveyed beautifully. Avoid the family filter and watch it. It is imperative that you do!

3. Doping

Well, just as I was talking about our reaction to the situation that matters, I saw this. It led me to believe that the situation doesn’t matter at all. In fact nothing else matters. This beautiful She Hulk in the video brought out the monster in me. It reminded me of two little words I love to say to all of them who do not appreciate my efforts. The video made me laugh and it made me think! That is quite an achievement!

4. Blue Sky

Something ironic about the video being in black and white isn’t it? I am a fan of Black and White. In fact, the very first film that I made was in black and white. Even one of my latest films is in black and white. The tone itself made me nostalgic. The music and the lyrics were a brilliant addition that simply took me down the memory lane. Watch the video and learn how well emotions can be handled!

“So who is the one that fills your life with colours?” This is the question I wanted to ask myself upon looking at the video. The video is simple and yet touching. And the interpretation of the title “Blue Sky” in the video makes this video one of my favourite music videos I have seen lately. I feel the title of any film or any art form for that matter, should have a deeper meaning. I could sense the director wanting to derive that meaning from the title of the song and incorporate it into the video so that it reaches the audience effectively.

(I took a break as I wanted to download these songs from iTunes, or otherwise.)

Coming back to the film making bit of these five videos… I think what I loved the most about these videos are the story part of them. Nowadays, when the attention span of audiences has shrunk down it is remarkable to find something that can hold the audience for 5 to 6 minutes. Usually we see music videos with fast moving imagery and no story at all. But I feel, the story behind a film is very important. And even I am sure I will definitely remember these music videos for the story and the overall direction.

Why am I featuring this awesome filmmaker?

I feel some filmmakers, over a period of time develop a style for themselves that they are comfortable in. I feel it is very dangerous for the “art” of cinema. As soon as an artist enters his comfort zone, the art dies. And I feel David over here is determined to give us a variety of good films in the form of music videos. I feel it is important that we learn that nothing good ever comes out of comfort zone.

Discovering a new artist on The Internet is happiness. It is a day well spent.

I want to share this happiness with you guys and I want you to pass it along…

Cheers!

Ebola Warning – A Chilling Truth

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”
– Mark Twain
“Based on a true story.” “Based on actual events.” There is something scary about these lines that make any film even more scary. All of us know, film director James Wan using the same warning in most of his horror films. And maybe that slight possibility that the same incidence, can happen to us too underlines the horror in the film.
Not long ago, I had written about Found Footage films. I tried to explain my take on how realism can be used to enhance the experience of a film. I feel the film by Director Martin Sommerdag Ebola Warning [Biological Research Film] takes this realistic approach to a whole new level.

Ebola Warning [Biological Research Film] from Alpha Hawk Films on Vimeo.

As the Director has mentioned, this film is a byproduct of a personal experience. Not by the director himself, but by his father. He was a biosafety level 4 chief virologist and he went missing in 1997. He was declared dead by the authorities but his body was never found. The film is a digitized version of various classified documents together with the old super 8MM film reel. And the film points at a patient diagnosed with Ebola.

The film Ebola Warning was screened at both New York Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Festival in 2008. After which the director claims that a very strange incident happened. A gentleman approached him and telling him that he knows his father. They decided to meet the next day. But that man never came.

The video uses shots from a top-secret biological research film recorded by Centers for Disease Control in 1978. It shows a nurse collecting organic samples from the subject or patient. All under the observation of a mysterious guy dressed in black. I want to point it out to our readers that the patient zero (the first person to have contracted the disease) was identified in the late 70s.
Apart from this, the film keeps itself open for possibilities. It is equipped with an abrupt start and and abrupt ending, leaving it for the viewers to decide and interpret. For me, I am scared of biological weapons since I got the idea way back in school. What if the next super weapon is a biological one? A virus that can kill a country from the inside? How easy it is for a superpower to eliminate its competitors by releasing a deadly virus in a country! How efficient and how clean! The idea gives me goosebumps. The film has planted this conspiracy theory in my mind and it is going to be difficult to get it out.
I think I will have to watch something lighter to get this out of my system. Maybe I will watch another teaser of “A Beautiful View”

A Beautiful View [Teaser 2] from Alpha Hawk Films on Vimeo.

The Reader by Stephen Daldry

“The notion of secrecy is central to western literature. You may say, the whole idea of character is defined by people holding specific information which for various reasons, sometimes perverse, sometimes noble, they are determined not to disclose.”

The film covers snippets from the life of Michael Berg from 1958 to 1995. The film lets the viewers travel in the memories of Michael, revealing his relationship with Hanna. The film takes place in Germany.

*Spoilers*

It starts off with an unexpected and passionate affair between Hanna (Kate Winslet) and Michael (David Kross). Hanna, one day rescues Michael who falls ill on his way back from school. Michael is 15 and Hanna is twice his age.  And this relationship, is no where near the concept of love, as we know it. Michael is with Hanna because he is discovering his own sexuality. On the other hand, for Hanna, Michael is a way of “reading” books. After some time, their relationship becomes “Reading first, sex later.” Both of them indulge into each other for fulfilling their own tiny desires. And although the society would not understand nor accept such relationship, it happens. After a few weeks, Hanna disappears, leaving no message for Michael and thus ends their romantic encounter. A few years pass and Michael who turns into a young law student finds Hanna again at a trial for a hideous crime during the second world war.

Societies think they operate by something called morality, but they don’t.

Hanna, along with a few of her colleagues is accused of letting 300 Jewish women die in a burning church when they were SS guards on the death march following the 1944 evacuation of a concentration camp near Krakow. Hanna refuses to defend herself and believes that she was doing what was right at that time. On the contrary, her colleagues try to pass the blame entirely on Hanna, making her the leader and as a result, the murderer of those 300 women. Hanna denies writing a report on the church fire but then admits it rather than providing a handwriting sample. This is the secret that Hanna wishes to protect more than her life. That she cannot read or write.

Michael connects the dots and realises Hanna’s secret. He wishes to save Hanna by disclosing this information but struggles as it will result in revealing his own little secret affair with Hanna. Hanna receives a life sentence and so does Michael. Michael imprisons himself and deals with his life in the shackles of loneliness.

Michael never visits Hanna in prison, but he sends her recordings of the books he used to read to her. Using the tapes as a reference Hanna learns to read and write by learning one word at a time. Just when Hanna’s life sentence is about to get over, she commits suicide. She leaves a note behind for Michael and asks him to give a some money that she has left behind to Ilana (Lena Olin); the holocaust survivor whose testimony had been the key evidence in the trial. Ilana refuses to take the money but Michael and Ilana agree that the money should go to an organisation that combats adult illiteracy.

The film ends with Michael taking his daughter to Hanna’s grave and telling her his little secret affair.

Phew! I think I have almost described the entire movie over here. But I felt it was necessary to explain what I learnt from this film.

1. The structure:

The film flaunts multiple acts interwoven accurately with one another. There are three major segments in the film and each segment has a three act structure of its own. Segment one would be the affair. Segment two would be the trial. And segment three would be the imprisonment of our lead characters.

2. Non linear storytelling:

This is one of the best non linear stories I have watched recently. I am a person who prefers content over style. And most probably a non linear structure is a difficult for the audience to grasp and connect with. But the film connects similar incidences in the past and the present so well that the non linear structure helps the viewer. It also emphasizes the changes Germany has gone through over these years.

3. Symbolism and Metaphors:

Although the film is promoted as if there are some dark secrets in it, actually things were pretty clear after one point. Just the way the stuff happened in the Nazi era is clear to the world. The film, in my opinion is more about the guilt and the sins.

4. Confrontation:

The two lead characters confront their sins. They accept the mistakes they made whatever the magnitude may be. Hanna’s primary mistake or misfortune was that she was illiterate. And Michael’s mistake was that he was naive. Both of them take responsibility for what they did in the past and that releases them from their respective prisons. Just the way the Germans do not try to hide what happened in the concentration camps, they confront the facts; the characters make peace with their past.

Michael (Young): You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it.

Michael (Old, asks Hanna): What have you learnt?

Hanna: I’ve learnt to read.

(Symbolism: War and Peace – Hanna stands on the novel before she hangs herself.)

5. Lapse of Time:

The movie should be known for its pace. It is simply astounding where the film takes you in mere 124 minutes. It starts off as a completely different film and it ends on a different note. Much like Life is Beautiful. Another take on a similar subject, from a very different point of view!

6. Perspective:

Who is the protagonist of the film? Who is the point of view character? I am confused about who the protagonist is. It is certain that Michael is the POV character. The film remains honest to his point of view. We are never burdened with what happens at the prison with Hanna.

7. The narrative:

As I said, the film has a very unique point of view. It is not a prison movie. We don’t see what happens to Hanna in the prison. We don’t know whether she gets used to her life over there or whether she goes through a lot of problems. The film majorly focuses on the reasons rather than the aftermath. I felt it is a very risky way of going about it, but it works over here!

Overall, I feel the movie extends beyond its characters and it speaks about the Human Nature. The movie is about how the rights and wrongs are defined by the system and with passing time, the system might change drastically.

Societies think they operate by something called morality, but they don’t. They operate by something called law. The question is never “Was it wrong”, but “Was it legal”. And not by our laws, no. By the laws at the time.

#Sweet Romance – Welcome Reluctant Stranger (Between Two Worlds #3) by E Journey

Books, Food and Me!!

The blurb reads,

“Can a family bury its secret past?

Like her long-lost father, Leilani heals people. But can she heal herself? Accept the awful truth about her father―left behind when her family fled the troubled country of Costa Mora eighteen years ago?

Brokenhearted, Justin just wants to drown his sorrows. But he finds more trouble than he’s looking for when thugs assault him and a mysterious woman with a dead aim rescues him.
A young woman’s inner journey accepting her past spun within a tale of love and past political intrigue.”

welcome reluctant stranger

I enjoyed this sweet and clean romance. It made me feel all nice and good. I loved Leilani and Justin’s relationship and I can somehow relate to a whirlwind romance when things change before you know it.

I was approached by the author to read the book and I was a little concerned that this was the third…

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The Theory of Court (Court by Chaitanya Tamhane)

Before I begin writing anything about the film, I would like to clarify my intention of this post. First of all, this is not a film review. I don’t consider myself or anybody for that matter to pass rigid judgements on any art form. I believe I am writing this to engage into a discussion. People argue that the film is overrated. I feel everything is either overrated or underrated. Nothing is rated appropriately. If it was my baby I would’ve preferred an overrated baby rather than an underrated one. It took me a while to sink into the treatment of the film. But once I accepted it, I stopped judging it and my learning process begun.  I want to emphasis on the elements in the film that I liked and the elements that didn’t appeal to my tastes. And more importantly, I feel this subject and this art form requires a debate more than “My Choice” by Deepika Padukone / Homi Adajania.

In November 2014, when I was in the middle of a feast of films at Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), I came across a counter which was serving Court; it was flooded with hungry cinephiles. After missing 2 screenings and watching the third one from the aisles, my love-hate relationship with the film began.

MACROS

The film was a massive success at MAMI. It won the Best Feature Film award and the 62nd National Film Awards. And quite poetically, the Grand Prix Aleksandar Sasa Petrovic – Best Film award at Auteur Film Festival. Auteur is the fancy French word for Author. There is a “kind of” famous Auteur theory in Film by film critic François Truffaut. Which in simple terms makes the Director of the film, the author of the film; writing with a “camera-pen”. The film is the reflection of the director’s personal vision. And in case of Court, it truly is as personal and as visionary as it gets.

The film is a courtroom drama about a case whose verdict is pending. That’s how I would summarize the film in one line. The film is about this case. The case over here is not just the plot but also the protagonist. It’s a hybrid. You can imagine the case as the hero of the film surrounded by some important characters. We have the accused, Narayan Kamble; the defence lawyer, Vinay Vora (Vinayak Gombar); the public prosecutor (I think unnamed, played by Geetanjali Kulkarni) and the Judge (Pradeep Joshi). For those seeking more info about the plot of the film, watch the film.

Ever watched Bicycle Thieves or The Apu Trilogy? Yep, the boring ones. These films introduced Neo-Realism to the world. The theme of these films, if we can generalise, is the melancholy of contemporary life. That is the section where Court falls. Except, the director has introduced one additional theme through this film – lethargy. And this theme compliments the subject so well that it in fact enhances the experience. Honestly this is the one word you can use to describe the judiciary system of India. And that’s exactly what we see over here.

If the law of the state is going to permit me, then I would like to abduct Chaitanya Tamhane and his casting team and torture them till they spill all their casting secrets. The casting of the film, is marvellous. It simply enhances the authenticity of the film.

MICROS

The film begins with Narayan Kamble reading a poem about a Butterfly. You and I, (normal human beings) get scared when a butterfly enters our house. Not because it’s harmful for us, but it’s harmful for that innocent creature. Because it a cage for him with all sorts of dangers. My grandmother told me as a kid that once a butterfly enters a house, it doesn’t get out. That’s the accused for you. The accused, is the innocent one; just doing his job, now trapped in the system. Voila!

Let it be any character, when he/she enters the shot you see him/her entering from one end of the frame and exiting from another. Usually what we do is, we show a person entering → cut to close up → cut to another shot → boom, characters are about to exit the frame. That’s how we usually cut. Not only the characters are shown moving from one end to another in a frame in a single shot which has practically no dialogues but also there is a 4 second gap before the character enters and after the character leaves. There is a shot where the defence lawyer drops off the victim’s wife in a car. You should focus on that shot if you want to understand what I mean. Absolutely no cuts. Full action, just the way it happens. Even though there is no drama. On the other hand, conversations containing important exposition are just incomplete excerpts. I would like someone to help me understand this particular treatment.

Speaking more about the editing, in one scene the defence lawyer speaks about Human Rights and the Mohsin Parvez case at some event. He is disturbed several times. During his speech he is disturbed several times. Once when a guy stops him for placing a fan. I feel it emphasised two things. One was how seriously this matter is being taken by the audience and the organisers and two is that this point will not really make sense in the system. And I feel this is the only scene where we have a sharp cut, just when the Vora is disturbed for the second time.

The courtroom part of the film ends with the verdict pending. But the screenplay continues. Both the sides have made their point.  The judge, at some distinct point in the future will pass the judgement. And he does, when he slaps the verbally challenged kid based on the evidence, rather than empathising with the situation. That sums up our drama part. Roll Credits. (Slowly)

PS. I’d also like to know what happened to the music. (?)

THE THEORY

Every web-page that I visited so far describes Court as a critique of Indian Judiciary System. I  think that it is beyond that. It is a critique of our culture. That is why we have a highly educated lawyer, who drives his own car, takes his assistant to a trial, listens and enjoys portuguese songs, lives separately even though his parents own a building helping a man just for the sake of justice against a lower middle class public prosecutor who travels by train, can’t afford a maid, who lives in a one room-kitchen flat, watches old minded Marathi plays. It is the contrast in culture. And we have simple people, doing their job. When you think about it everyone is doing the job honestly. So the theory over here is – in Bicycle Thieves we have the situation becoming the villain making ordinary people steal; over here we have the system and our culture making us form the opinions about right and wrong.

“It’s the law vs. it’s a grey matter!”

VERDICT

When I watch a film, I’ve made a rule of keeping an open mind and a selfish one too. I have decided to keep the bad part away and take what is good with me. That helps me enjoy The Attacks of 26/11 not thinking that it’s an RGV film so it’s supposed to be disappointing. So with an open mind, when I watched this film for the second time, I noted down a lot that the film has to offer… Mostly good although unconventional. Most importantly it has given all of the young filmmakers something to aspire to. The dedication, the honesty and the genuine efforts of the makers. And it has again proved the point that any artist needs to have one quality in his possession in order to be successful – conviction.
“When I am making a film, I am the audience.” – Martin Scorsese

Horrible Bosses

My younger brother has a knack for theatre. In February he joined a local theatre group and they are putting up an experimental play. Within just a few weeks, he was given an important role in the play as a replacement. It was wonderful to see him so excited about this. Managing school and rehearsals is a tough task and he was doing it without any complaints.

One day, school got over late and I went to drop him off to the rehearsals. I had some work nearby so I thought I’d wait after finishing it, watch the rehearsals and then give him a ride back home.

“Oh, do I have to start from the basics now? ALWAYS face the audience!” The harsh voice echoed in the building. I peeked inside just to realise that my brother was getting bashed up by the instructor for some silly mistakes.

“Walk properly, like a man. You are a man aren’t you? I am not too sure.”

“Do you think this soft voice will reach the last row? I doubt it will even cross the third one.”

“Call the Janitor. I am sure he will do a better job than this guy…”

Every word hammered his confidence down. And the humiliating laughter just made things even more cruel. He is new over there and I could see that he was trying his best to cope up. If there are any suggestions, there has to be a gentle way to put it forward. He is just 15, trying hard to adjust in a new group. He needs to make friends over there who will make him feel confident. He needs an instructor who appreciates his courage of venturing into something new. He needs encouragement. Not a bunch of bullies who turn this into a nightmare.

A group which already has a strong bonding will never accept you so easily. You have to take special efforts not to be a pariah. You have to laugh at jokes you don’t find funny. You have to do things that don’t interest you. Humiliation comes free in such situations. And there are always horrible bosses. These are the people who can easily make you feel comfortable. Their opinion matters. BUT, they choose not to.

A boss could be anyone who “bosses” over you. It could be a friend who constantly insults you, a teacher who criticizes you way beyond necessary or even your son or daughter who makes you feel like shit. In most of the relationships, there is one dominant person and one recessive one. In a healthy relationship, this position keeps changing. Sometimes, person A is the dominant one and B accepts it and sometimes B becomes the boss. Once one person in a relationship never steps down from his or her dominant position, the relationship turns horrible.

In today’s world, criticism has replaced appreciation. In the constant struggle to achieve more, we have forgotten to sit back and look at what we’ve done so far. If I know people, I know for sure that nobody underperforms by choice. At least not in the start. Let it be a boring desk job or even something you have passion for, naturally you will try to give your best in the start. But when these efforts go unappreciated, things turn sour. Mediocrity steps in. Everybody in the world has at least one unique talent. The tricky part is, most of the times this talent goes unnoticed. Sometimes even by that individual himself. As a human being, I feel it is our responsibility to respect that talent and genuinely tell that person that no matter how small it seems, it matters.

After rehearsals, while going home, I asked him, “Are you okay?” And he said yes.

The next day he was as excited as the day before. He went to the rehearsals. Now, he is doing alright. When I ask him about his rude instructor, he tells me that he has started nitpicking some other new kid. I am glad the focus has shifted to someone else. But I am even more happy about how my kiddo brother treated this whole situation. He stayed positive. He didn’t lose faith in his own abilities. And that really matters.

Not everyone is generous enough to understand what you are going through. Because it takes efforts to be compassionate. But nobody can make you feel bad about yourself if you don’t let them to. If you have a horrible boss in your life, let him be the way he is. Don’t expect him to change his character to suit your needs. And if his opinion makes you feel low about yourself, then seriously f*ck it. Do not give such people the authority to tell you that you are no good. They may be the dominant one in this relationship. But that doesn’t mean you have to agree with their point of view about you.

My younger brother and his reaction to this situation taught me to stay confident about myself and my work. There are people who tell me that I have potential but I am extremely ordinary. Such reactions when come so bluntly hurt a lot. They may be right. They may be wrong. And not my thoughts but my actions to come will differentiate what’s right and what’s wrong.

Cheers to staying positive.

#Random Confusion – While You Were Awake by Tamara Dumas

Books, Food and Me!!

The blurb reads,

She can barely remember his name even though they have met a few times. His number is saved in her phone, not by his name but under the name of the place where they met.

This seems to have been the pattern of her life, established in her teens. Men come and go but they are now just a distant memory. Names and places forgotten.

She has no idea that this man’s plans for the evening include a visit to an elite sex club where there are no rules or dress code, except for the wearing of a mask. But this is not really his plan. He is only following the wishes of someone else – the means by which the girl is delivered into somebody else’s hands.

Just who is using who? Who is ultimately trying to control them both?

While you were awake

This was a short book but…

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#Him (Almost Tiny Tales #1)

Let Go and Write!

Almost Tiny Tales #1

(Almost Tiny Tales : My personal Challenge to blog about a #word atleast twice a week. The key is to keep the story word count less than 200 words and use the #word only 3 times)

Word for the day: #him

Don’t get emo so soon my love!! I’m with you”, He said

I couldn’t help but sniff a little at his words. We’d been away for so long, missing times, missing memories.

It was harsh, this feeling of utter and complete loss. I tried to make #him stay, but time was not on my side. I willed myself to stay still but everytime I looked at him, I could feel my eyes pricking and my throat paining. All I wanted to do was cuddle and hide my face somewhere. Yet he managed to pick me out every time I tried to hide my tears.

He…

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C for Chilling, C for Commendable- Too Dark to Sleep by Dianne Gallagher

Books, Food and Me!!

The blurb reads,

Time to wake up…

Maggie Quinn was the top homicide detective in Chicago’s Area One before she suffered a devastating loss. Now Quinn is damaged… perhaps beyond repair. Once the best detective in Chicago, she is haunted by dreams of a faceless man she could never catch. When the killer returns, Quinn agrees to serve as a consultant, but most cops in Area One tag her as a hazard. Except rookie detective Nick Dublowski who quickly realizes the only way the Chicago Police will catch this elusive killer is with the help of Maggie Quinn.

Back on the job, Quinn becomes as tenacious and sharp as ever. But as the investigation closes in on a suspect, the escalating murders hit dangerously close to home. Quinn’s sanity again begins to fray and her judgment is questioned. Did the suspect really do it? Or is Maggie’s tormented mind pushing…

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watching, making and learning cinema. enjoying the process