Archive for the ‘Workshop’ Category

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As most of us at mFC have been busy watching back to back films at the Mumbai Film Festival, none of us could manage to attend the 2-day Movie Mela. But thanks to Suchin Mehrotra, all is not gone. He attended the Day 2 of the mela and here’s a post on the same.

(click on any pic to start the slide show)

What’s particularly interesting about the Jio MAMI film festival as against other global film festivals, is how it showcases facets of world cinema and indie cinema, but also merges this with a celebration of mainstream Hindi cinema. The Movie Mela is an example of the latter and described as ‘India’s only movie carnival’. I chose to attend day 2 of the Mela, given I found it had the more appealing line-up of events; however I was also really aware of the full day of film watching being sacrificed.

Session 1: Virtual Reality and Filmmaking

A fascinating session hosted by the charismatic Shakun Batra on virtual reality and its implications and applications to storytelling, featuring panelists Gabo Arora – creative director at the UN, filmmaker Anand Gandhi and Raja Koduri – the man behind the VFX of the gargantuan Baahubali. The discussion explored what exactly virtual reality is and the opportunities it offers the world of filmmaking, with words and phrases like ‘immersive’ and ‘you-are-physically-in-the-story’ being frequently thrown around. Although the panel repeatedly proclaimed, almost matter-of-factly, that VR is a game-changer and the definitive future of filmmaking, I remain unconvinced given the same was said years ago about IMAX and 3D, the hype behind which eventually fizzled out. However, this is still no-doubt a fascinating new dimension to the medium of cinema, and definitely one which all film buffs should be aware of. In fact, most Hollywood studios are investing in a VR arm of some sort, with big names likes Steven Spielberg said to be toying with the medium in their future projects.

Gabo Arora’s presence on the panel was for both his renowned VR films like Clouds Over Sidra, as well as his insight on the implications of VR on the humanitarian field. Research conducted on the effectiveness of charity donation collectors who randomly approach people on the street for a donation, found that only 1 in 12 ever receive funds. However, by giving each of these collectors a VR headset which allowed them to show a short film such as Clouds Over Sidra to passersby, the chances of receiving a donation almost doubled. Simply put, people were more generous when given a visual experience of the very conditions they were being asked to help change. Arora also announced live at the panel that the UN would be picking up Gandhi’s VR production, Cost of Coal, and including it in their distribution network, making it India’s first ever VR studio acquisition. Aside from this, Gandhi made a wonderful appeal to one and all asking for anyone who has a meaningful story to tell using VR, should just walk into his company’s Mumbai office to pitch ideas, and if they connect with it, they will provide all the necessary tools and infrastructure to go out and make the film.

However, as interesting as the possibilities of VR may be, the session went on for far too long, with a far greater focus on technology than filmmaking, and proved largely exhausting by the end. Suffice to say, I was strongly craving the feeling of a movie theatre by this point.

Session 2: Short film premier: Ouch by Neeraj Pandey

Ouch – the aptly titled comedy, starring Pooja Chopra and Manoj Bajpayee – who is fast becoming the face of the Indian short film, proved to be a fun little film which hinges on Bajpayee’s great comic timing and keeps you chuckling. Apart from some overpowering music and the slightly stretched narrative, it’s a refreshing change to the recent slew of short films made by mainstream filmmakers. However, I couldn’t help but feel this didn’t qualify to be it’s own standalone session considering the film could be viewed on Youtube at a later stage. (It was released on Youtube later the same day).

 

Session 3: Director’s panel – In conversation with Zoya Akhtar, Vishal Bhardwaj, Gauri Shinde, Shoojit Sarcar and Rohit Shetty

Undoubtedly the session that made the entire day worth it and how! A pure cinematic delight that had me giddy with excitement. Hosted by Anupama Chopra and Rajeev Masand, it was an enjoyable mix of focus on the movies and filmmaking, as much as it was on the more light-hearted aspects of personal experiences. The delightful discussion covered their behaviours and demeanor on set, their attitude towards stress, their relationship with failure as well as their approach to dealing with actors.  A few excerpts and fun facts from the session:

When asked what the best advice on filmmaking she ever received, Zoya Akhtar recalled something Mira Nair (whom she has assisted in the past) had told her about three things to never forget –

  1. Always be true to the story you are telling
  2. Never let go of your femininity in an effort to be the boss. You can wear  a skirt and lipstick and still be the boss
  3. Never hook up with your actors.

Rohit Shetty was in full form and stole the show with his frank and direct answers. Although I don’t hold his brand of cinema in very esteem at all, I couldn’t help but respect the man for his honesty which included stating that ‘Golmaal 2 was a crap film’, ‘The villain in Singham 2 just didn’t work’, and admitting that he didn’t think much of Dilwale particularly because of the love story arc between SRK and Kajol which let the film down.

A few fun facts:

  • Shoojit Sarcar has special-made Darjeeling tea that is specifically plucked and delivered from Darjeeling for him which he sips on all day on set
  • Zoya Akhtar’s one golden rule on her sets is “strictly no littering” to ensure the crew respect all the locations they shoot at.
  • Vishal Bhardwaj maintains that none of his films have ever set the box office on fire or even gone onto make money, which is just startling to consider! He said the most any film has ever managed is recovering its money.
  • None of the directors claim to drink coffee which was a particularly shocking revelation given how stressful a job of a director is, and more so given how much caffeine I had to ingest just to be able to make it to the event and hear them speak.

Session 4: In conversation with Shahid Kapoor

Although it is in no way an easy task to follow up a panel discussion featuring some of the exciting filmmakers in the country, Shahid Kapoor’s session proved to be equally as engaging, largely down to how candid the actor was about his career. He openly discussed how the majority of his films aren’t ‘good films’ as such, and how he’s really come into his own in the last few years and is clear about the kinds of films he wants to be a part of. It was ultimately hard not to be charmed and I’m certainly excited to see what the reinvigorated actor offers up with his future projects. He is next to be seen in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Rangoon followed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati.

Overall the Mela proved to be fine day for any cinephile that helped provide a much-needed dose of variety to the festival proceedings!

(Suchin Mehrotra is a freelance writer and critic, who left the corporate world to pursue his love of cinema because he watched one too many films for his own good. He is based out of Bombay and can be reached at @suchin545)

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Among the many new things that has been added to the programming of Mumbai Film Festival this year, a filmmakers bootcamp was much needed. This was the first year of the bootcamp. The day-long event had three back to back interesting panels with lunch, snacks and dinner break.

But before you scroll down, do check out the Movie Mela schedule too. Two days full of back to back interesting panels.

Movie Mela

Back to bootcamp! The three sessions were –

Session I: Journey of the First Script
A dive into the avenues available to filmmakers with their first script draft.

– Bianca Taal (curates the Voices section of IFFR), Konkona Sensharma, Vikramaditya Motwane, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Kanu Behl and Amit Masurkar

Session II: Navigating Film and Co-production Markets
What do these platforms offer? How can a filmmaker/producer maximize this space?

– Neeraj Ghaywan, Nirupama Kotru (former director (films) of Ministry of I & B), Chris McDonald (President, Hot Docs), Ajit Thakur (CEO, Eros Trinity Pictures)

SESSION III: Digital Distribution : A Real Alternative To Theatrical Release?

– Vasan Bala, Kiran Rao, Pratiksha Rao (Head, Media-Partnership, Twitter), Paolo Agostinelli (Chief Content Officer, Tata Sky Ltd)

And here are some of the interesting notes from the sessions..

 

NFDC Screenwriter's LabFilm Bazaar, 2016 has announced its official selection of projects for its main segment, the Co-Production Market. The event will be held between 20 – 24 November in Goa. This year, 18 projects have been selected to participate in the Market.

The Co-Production Market will kickstart with Open Pitch where selected filmmakers will pitch their projects to a curated audience of national and international producers, financiers and sales agents.

The selected projects for 2016 are:

  • Apodartho (A Foolish Man) | Bengali | Bangladesh 


Director: Abu Shahed Emon’s debut feature Jalal’s Story travelled to more than twenty international film festivals. In 2015, the film was nominated as Bangladesh’s entry for Best Foreign-Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. A Foolish Man is his second feature.

Producer: Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, Chabial

Founded by Mostafa Sarwar Farooki, Chabial is a production house which has produced the fiction features Television (2012) and Ant Story (2013), both of which have travelled to several prestigious in- ternational film festivals and won awards. At present, Chabial is producing No Land’s Man which won the Motion Picture Association-Asia Pacific Screen Awards Academy Film Fund 2014 and the Most Promising Project Award at Film Bazaar 2014.

  • Bhosle | Hindi | India
 

Director: Devashish Makhija is a Mumbai-based filmmaker who has written Bhoomi (directed by Avik Mukherjee), Doga (directed by Anurag Kashyap) and Oonga (directed by himself). Also to his credit are several acclaimed short films like Rahim Murge Pe Mat Ro, El’ayichi, Agli Baar, Absent and Taandav.

Producer: Piiyush Singh, Muvizz.com

Piiyush Singh is an investor and consultant for Muvizz.com – a globally funded online video streaming portal for Indie cinema. Before venturing out on his own, Piiyush worked as a managing partner with companies like Friends Media Group and Rudra Enterprises.

  • Calorie | English | Canada, India


Director: Eisha Marjara is a Canadian filmmaker whose provocative docudrama Desperately Seeking Helen received the Critic’s Choice Award at the Locarno Film Festival and the Jury Prize at the München

Dokumentarfilm Festival in 2000. Eisha first drew attention with The Incredible Shrinking Woman in 1994, which she wrote, shot and directed. She is currently in production on her first feature, Venus.

Producer: Joe Balass, Compass Productions inc.

Joe Balass has produced and directed a number of award-winning films like Baghdad Twist (2007), JOY! (2012) and The Length of the Alphabet (2013), which screened at festivals around the world. In 2014, both the Toronto Jewish Film Festival and the Cinémathèque québécoise honoured him with a retrospective.

  • Dastaan-e-Awaargi | Hindi | India


Director: Ankit Kothari has worked as a graphic designer, script supervisor, researcher and assistant director on the critically acclaimed films Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Love Sex aur Dhokha and Shanghai. His script Dastaan-E- Awaargi was part of the NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab in 2015.

Producer: Priya Sreedharan, Open Air Films

Priya’s first film as an executive producer was Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, released in 2008. Her second film Love Sex aur Dhokha was the first commercially successful, breakthrough digital film in India. She was also a producer of Shanghai, released in 2012. Her fourth film, tentatively titled Three Storeys is ready for release in early 2017.

  • Ink | Bengali, Hindi | India


Director: Pratim Gupta’s debut film, Paanch Adhyay (Afterglow) premiered at the South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF), New York and won the New Voice in Indian Cinema at MAMI. Ink was part of the Mumbai Mantra Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2013. Pratim’s work also includes the experimental film X: Past is Present (SAIFF 2014 & IFFK) and Shaheb Bibi Golaam (New York International Film Festival 2016 premiere).

Producer: Firdausul Hasan, Friends Communication

Friends Communication, formed in 2012, has produced films like Take One, Abby Sen and Natoker Moto (2015) which was part of the International Competition section at the International Film Festival of India. In 2013, they produced Rupkatha Noy which starred Soumitra Chatterjee and Radhika Apte.

  • Insha’allah | Malayalam, Hindi | India


Director: Geetu Mohandas’ first feature Liar’s Dice (Sundance Film Festival 2014) received the Hubert Bals Fund for development and won six major international awards, and two National Awards in India. It was also India’s official submission for the Best Foreign Film for the 87th Academy Awards. Geetu’s earlier work includes the short film Are You Listening? which premiered at International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) 2010.

Producer: Ajay G. Rai & Alan McAlex, JAR Pictures

In 2011, Ajay set up Jar Pictures in partnership with Alan McAlex. From the critically acclaimed Liar’s Dice to the mainstream Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, the company’s filmography boasts of a variety of genres. In 2014, Jar Pictures production Killa won the Crystal Bear at Berlinale and a National Award in India. Their latest release, The New Classmate, premiered at the BFI London Film Festival.

  • Jhyalincha (Season of Dragonflies) | Nepali | Nepal


Director: Abinash Bikram Shah is a filmmaker based in Kathmandu, Nepal. Abinash’s short films have traveled to film festivals worldwide including Berlin, Venice and Busan, winning a host of awards. An alumnus of Asian Film Academy 2008 and Berlinale Talent Campus 2010, Abinash works as the Pro- gramming Director at Ekadeshma International Short Film Festival.

Producer: Ram Krishna Pokharel, Icefall Productions

Over the past several years Ram has developed and produced shorts and feature films like L’ascension, Nomber One, Everest – Summit of the Gods that have appeared in many national and international film festivals. He is currently working on Jhyalincha (Season of Dragonflies).

  • Joseph Ki Macha (Joseph’s Son) | Manipuri | India


Director: Haobam Paban Kumar is a Manipuri filmmaker whose debut fiction feature Loktak Lairambee (Lady of the Lake) was selected for world premiere at Busan International Film Festival 2016. The film was part of the Film Bazaar Work-in-Progress Lab 2015. Paban’s documentary Floating Life was nominated for the Leipziger Ring award at the 58th DOK Leipzig 2015. His films have screened in various festivals and have won awards including the FIPRESCI prize at Mumbai International Film Festival 2006.

Producer: Oli Pictures

Oli Pictures was established in the summer of 2005 in Imphal, Manipur. The company has notable productions to its credit namely – Kangla, Orchids and Manipur, A Cry in the Dark, Mr. India among others. Oli Pictures’ latest production is the fiction feature film, Loktak Lairambee (Lady of the Lake).

  • Kabuliwala (Man From Kabul) | Animation | Hindi | India


Director: Soumitra Ranade, an alumnus of Sir J.J.School of Arts and Film and Television Institute of India, has written, directed and produced children’s feature films Jajantaram Mamantaram and Goopi Gawaiyaa Bagha Bajaiyaa, animated TV serials Karadi Tales and Bandbudh Aur Budbak. Soumitra’s latest live-action feature Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai? is slated for release soon. He is the Founder/ Chairman of Paperboat Design Studios Pvt. Ltd. and also the Co-founder/ Chairman of School of DAAF (Design Art Animation Film).

Producer: Sunil Doshi, Handmade Films

Sunil Doshi has worked in production, acquisition and distribution of different kinds of films and pro- gramming of the Indian films at various film festivals. Handmade Films has previously produced San- tosh Sivan’s Navarasa (Nine Emotions), Rajat Kapoor’s Mixed Doubles, Sagar Ballary’s Bheja Fry, Rupali Guha’s Aamras, Bela Negi’s Daayen ya Baayen, Jaideep Varma’s Hulla, Jaybarto Chatterji’s Love Songs, Maneej Premnath’s The Waiting Room and Sharat Katariya’s 10ml Love. Handmade Films is current- ly involved in the post-production of Bioscopwala, a live action feature-film based on Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Kabuliwala’.

  • Nonajoler Kabbo (The Salt in Our Waters) | Bengali | Bangladesh


Director: Rezwan Shahriar Sumit’s docudrama City Life was selected at Berlinale Talents 2008. His shorts have traveled to Copenhagen International Children’s Film Festival, among other festivals in the US. His films have been acquired by MUBI, VPRO for worldwide distribution. Rezwan attended the Graduate Film Program of NYU Tisch School of the Arts as a Tisch Fellow.

Producer: Gigi Dement, Laboratory NYC

Gigi has produced several award-winning films, including God of Love (winner of the 2011 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short), Bastards of Young, and the critically acclaimed film Babygirl that pre- miered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2012.

  • Punyakoti | Animation | Sanskrit | India


Director: Ravi Shankar has been a multimedia and animation pioneer in India since he directed the first interactive CD-ROM in India in 1995. He is an HR professional and works in Infosys as a Senior HR Solutions Designer. Ravi has over 20 years of experience in directing and managing large pro- grammes/productions.

Producer: Sindhu SK, Puppetica Media

Sindhu SK managed the largest crowd-funding campaign in India through a platform last year and was instrumental in the success of the campaign. She has previously worked with her husband Ravi on several creative projects.

  • Ram Ji Ka Ghoda (The Dragonfly) | Hindi | India


Director: An alumnus of Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Bishnu Dev Halder’s documentary, Bagher Bachcha, won the National Film Award in 2007. It was also the Opening Film of International Film Festival of India 2007. Selected for Talent Campus India in 2007, Bishnu was awarded the UK Environment Film Fellowship in 2010. Bishnu’s debut film, I Was Born in Delhi, was nominated at the prestigious IDFA in 2011.

Producer: Courtyard Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

Courtyard Entertainment’s award-winning body of work comprises of feature-length projects that have been co-produced in partnership with Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Japan Broadcasting Corporation and NHK among others. Apart from ethnographic, educational and promo- tional films, the company has also produced I Was Born In Delhi, English For All, Blocks of Green and The Diary Of A Refugee.

  • The Biryani Seller | Bengali | India


Directors: Rajdeep Paul and Sarmishtha Maiti are National Film Award winning filmmakers and alumni of Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute. They have worked with Doordarshan, PSBT and Ministry of External Affairs, India, and PBS, US. Their debut fiction feature script The Biryani Seller was part of the Mumbai Mantra Cinerise Screenwriters Lab. The duo’s short fictions include 3 on a Bed, The Woman and the Man, Itvar. Their documentary At the Crossroads, Nondon Bagchi Life and Living won a National Award.

Producer: Mahesh Mathai, Highlight Films

Mahesh Mathai founded Highlight Films in 1987 which became one of the most successful advertis- ing commercial companies in India. In 2000, he made the acclaimed feature film, Bhopal Express that opened the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival and won seven International Awards. In 2005, Mahesh directed the British film, Broken Thread. Highlight Films’ has also produced Mystic India in 2005, Outsourced in 2006, Aapa Akka and Manali Cream 2009 among others.

  • The Cineaste | Persian | China, Netherlands


Director: Aboozar Amini’s graduation film Kabul Tehran Kabul (2010) won the Wildcard Award of the Dutch Film Fund. His film Angelus Novus (2015) premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) and won various awards worldwide. His latest film Where is Kurdistan (2016) was commis- sioned by IFFR. His Afghan origin plays an important role in his work.

Producer: Jia Zhao, Silk Road Film Salon

Jia Zhao is the founder/producer at Muyi Film (cultural/artistic documentary) and Silk Road Film Salon. Her recent works include projects with Frank Scheffer (The Perception, IFFR 2016, KNF award; Inner Landscape Holland Festival 2015), Yan Ting Yuen (Mr Hu and the Temple, in competition at IDFA 2015 and at NFF 2016), Aboozar Amini (Where is Kurdistan? IFFR 2016; Angelus Novus, IFFR 2015), Yang Yang (Steel Rose, 2016) and Laetitia Schoofs (Unbinding Feet).

  • The Sunshine | Tamil | India


Director: Leena Manimekalai is a Tamil poet and filmmaker who has made films like My Mirror is the Door, Goddesses, Sengadal (The Dead Sea) and White Van. Stories about Eco-feminism, Dalit women lives, plight of refugees and fishermen in the Palk Strait, and enforced disappearances in the back- ground of Tamil ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka form the core of her work.

Producer: SR Prabhu, Dream Warrior Pictures

Dream Warrior Pictures (DWP) was co-founded by SR Prakash Babu and SR Prabhu in 2010. Saguni, their debut film, was a successful Tamil feature starring Karthi Sivakumar. As partner and co-producer at Studiogreen from 2006 to 2015, Prakash Babu and Prabhu have successfully produced 14 Tamil feature films. Recently, they produced the fiction feature Maya, which went on to become one of the most successful commercial releases in 2015.

  • The Umesh Chronicles | English, Hindi | India, Sweden


Director: Pooja Kaul’s short films Rasikan Re (O Lover of Life) 2003, Winter Trail 2002, Notes For a Film 2000, Sheher: Lucknow 1997 have been screened and awarded at festivals worldwide. Her current pro- ject The Umesh Chronicles received the Hubert Bals Fund for script and project development.

Producer: Charlotte Most, Mostfilm AB

Charlotte Most set up her company Mostfilm in 2000. Attending EAVE 2010, established Charlotte as a producer in Europe. Her films have been screened at various festivals and venues throughout the world. Her productions have been acquired by Swedish National Television (SVT). Her Filmography (2012-2016) includes – Eggg, Swoon and The Girl King among others.

  • Tribhanga (Three Curve Bent) | English, Marathi | India


Director: Renuka Shahane has been an Indian actress for the last 29 years. She won the Best Director award for her debut directorial Marathi film Rita at the Star Screen Awards 2010 and the best screenplay award for Marathi films at the 8th Pune International Film Festival. Tribhanga was part of the Mumbai Mantra Sundance Screenwriter’s workshop in 2013.

Producer: Padachinnha Production

Renuka Shahane started Padachinnha Production in September 2015. Two Marathi short films – Saath- van (Mementos) & Aathvan (Memory) have been produced under this banner. Saathvan was officially selected for the Trinity International Film Festival in Detroit this year.

  • Wapsi (The Return) | Hindi | India


Director: Asad Hussain was one of the writers on Bajrangi Bhaijaan. He has also co-written Children of War, a film about Bangladesh’s war for independence. Asad has collaborated with internationally acclaimed directors Siddiq Barmak (Afghanistan) and Murali Nair (India). He has been awarded the prestigious MacDowell Fellowship for his writing. His screenplay, Wapsi was part of the NFDC Screenwriters’ Lab 2015.

Producer: Abbas Khan, Paandan Pictures

Paandan Pictures has been co-founded by Asad Hussain and Abbas Khan. Abbas has worked on Indian and international films, TVCs and Studio Projects since 2008. He has collaborated with directors like Ashim Ahluwalia, Murali Nair, Rob Cohen, Paula Van Der Oest and Sharat Katariya.

– Film Bazaar is a platform exclusively created to encourage collaboration between the international and South Asian film fraternities. The market aims at facilitating the sales of world cinema in the region. The 2015 market saw an attendance of 1102 delegates from 38 countries with a country delegation from Canada.

– The 10th Edition of Film Bazaar will be held from 20-24 November 2016 at the Marriott Resort in Goa, India.

Every year, Whistling Woods International organises an open-for-all festival of cinema called ‘Celebrate Cinema’. This is the fifth edition of the 2-day fest.

– Attendance fee is a nominal amount of Rs 100/- for both days.

– Details of the workshops and screenings is in the pics below.

– You can also check out their official site here for more details and registration.

 

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The 4th Indian Screenwriters Conference

SO NEAR, SO FAR: DO OUR STORIES REFLECT INDIA’S REALITY?

The Film Writers Association is back with its biggest, most prestigious and popular event for Indian Screenwriters.

Date : August 3-4, 2016
Venue : St. Andrews Auditorium, Bandra West
To register :  Click here

A quick summary of sessions

1. THE FEMININE FACTOR
Are female actors getting better roles now? Is our audience comfortable only with stereotypical women characters? Are we ready to have a more realistic gender equation on screen?

2. SERIAL KILLERS
Does our current TV content reflect our times and society? Why are we stuck in some unchangeable grooves? What is the way out?

3. WRITERS & PRODUCERS: PARTNERS OR ADVERSARIES?
Writers feel they are undervalued while producers complain of lack of quality scripts. How can this relationship be made more collaborative, more mutual, and more productive for both?

4. LITTLE BIG FILMS
Small films, driven by strong scripts and the passion of the filmmakers, are increasingly ending up as surprise successes. What is the scope and future of such efforts?

5. DECODING THE DIGITAL
The exodus of producers & studios is moving towards the web. What is the business of web entertainment like? Is the Internet answer to our creative and economic issues?

6. THE BUSINESS OF TV WRITING
The leverage of the TV writer is growing; it appears, with him/her turning into a producer. Is this the model for all TV writers to move towards?

– Reputed journalist and Ramon Magsaysay awardee, P. Sainath will deliver the keynote address, while the renowned poet Ashok Vajpeyi will be the Chief-Guest.

– Confirmations are streaming in from the invited speakers, panelists and special guests, including Javed Akhtar, Gulzar, Siddharth Roy-Kapur, Ronnie Screwvala, Gaurav Banerjee (Star), Anooj Kapoor (SAB TV), Ritesh Sidhwani, Jaideep Sahni, Sriram Raghavan, Vishal Bhardwaj, Danish Khan (Sony), Ravina Kohli (Epic), Juhi Chaturvedi, Rajat Kapoor, Hansal Mehta, Jayesh Patil, Aatish Kapadia, Purnendu Shekhar, Shridhar Raghavan, Nagraj Manjule, Neeraj Ghaywan, Sonali Jaffer, Shashi Mittal, Varun Grover, Himanshu Sharma, Sudip Sharma, Saurabh Tiwari, Biswapati Sarkar and many more writers, writer-directors, and producers.

– On August 3, Dastangoi performance from 6:30 – 8:00 PM

– Click here, here and here to read some of our previous coverage of the conference.

 

We had put out the first post here – Notes From Anjum Rajabali’s Screenwriting Workshop – Part I. If you haven’t read it yet, do check out that first. This is the second one in the series.

Our friend Dipti Kharude attended the workshop. The second post is bit longer than the first one. But it’s quite great. So have patience and keep reading.

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Day  3 (continue)

Jitna accha jiyoge utna accha maal milega.” By ‘maal’ Anjum was referring to fodder for imagination. Beginning the day with Anjum’s witticism set the tone for days full of master classes. Their readiness to admit their struggles led to an illuminating discourse.

Session 7:  Master class with Sudip Sharma and Navdeep Singh

A discussion on character motivation with reference to NH10

Arjun is slapped in front of his wife. His honour was also ruptured. With a gun and high-profile contacts on his phone, he is armed with a sense of personal entitlement. They realized that the character should have displayed these traits of a hot-blooded Delhi male. When Sudip tried to incorporate these traits, he received feedback that the character would be unlikeable with these attributes.  Sudeep admitted, “This was a mistake. It’s not my job to make him likeable.”

 If you change characters, the structure is bound to change. In NH10, revenge was a part of ACT III. If NH10 involved two characters from Pulp Fiction, revenge would have had to be juicier and a part of ACT II, itself.

In terms of structure, they had planned to start the film at the Dhaba itself but NH10 worked because the characters were relatable. It was not Korean violence. The purpose of the scene where Meera makes a presentation in a corporate set-up was to make the characters seem like ‘one of us’. This was also the case with the party scene.

There were suggestions from producers to include happy flashbacks. NH10 had all the makings of a B-movie but Sudip and Navdeep were steadfast about the themes being honour and gender. This uplifted the story. “People thought that our themes were too overt but it was a conscious choice.”

Moving on to some nifty tips, Sudeep is vehemently against putting a camera movement in the script. Directors hate that.

Instead of writing ‘long shot’, you could write – A bridge across the river.

Instead of writing ‘Mid-shot’, you could write – A man on it.

Instead of writing, ‘Close-up’, you could write – A tear rolls down his cheek.

A good script leaves room for interpretation by the director. You should only provide a visual landscape.

Sudip’s favourite NH10 moment was not scripted. The child laughed when Meera is slapped by Ammaji (Deepti Naval). Navdeep kept the moment. It is a harsh and disturbing moment where you can see patriarchy at work and the child is already on the path of violence.

The famed scene where Meera says ‘Fuck you’ was not a part of the initial drafts. She’s an established swimmer. In the earlier drafts, she swims across a canal and throws her wet shoes at them. This scene was to mark her first success.  They didn’t find a canal and had to settle for a rock quarry and that is the genesis of the aforesaid scene.

Setting/Milieu is important in a film – Just like Varanasi is a character in Masaan, Gurgaon is a character in NH10.

On the process of writer-director collaboration, they advised not jump into writing the story immediately.  Stay with it. Spend a few months talking about it. Watch other films in that zone.

You can’t sit with one script and say you’re a writer. Sudip wrote about 25 scripts before NH10 materialised.

They also highly recommend the process of index cards, where you write one-liners of scenes sequentially on cards and keep them with you. Put them up on a wall and colour code them, if you’d like. It helps you understand what kind of scenes each of the acts is made up of.

Takeaway – Your characters determine the structure/genre of your story.

Session 8: Mythology: Discovering the heights of drama from the depths of human nature (Notes of this session are sketchy. Nevertheless, this topic deserves a separate workshop of its own. Thanks to the participants fawning over the writers conducting master classes, Anjum was forced to not cover it as comprehensively as he would have liked to)

The content and dramatic forms of Mahabharata and Ramayana have had an overarching influence on Indian screenwriting. Anjum spoke about how mythology lends itself to reinterpretation and how mythological stories have evolved over time. We discussed how Valmiki’s Ramayana doesn’t entail Agnipariksha or the iconic Lakshaman Rekha.

Anjum spoke about the integration of Mahabharata in the film Rajneeti and how one of the most important scenes in the film modeled on Kunti revealing to Karan that she’s his mother, didn’t deliver the impact.

He also explained how Arjun (Ranbir in Rajneeti) evolves. The better he gets at dealing with war, the more he declines morally.

In Ramayana, Ram has to adhere to the ideal of Maryada Purshottam and hence he doesn’t reveal his emotions.  The character of Lakshman serves this purpose, instead.

Anjum also explained how the phrase ‘Narova Kunjarova’ has over the centuries and millenia symbolized ambiguity in a message in our culture.  It has been channelized into dialogues and storylines.

Anjum wrapped up this session by saying, “Believe in magic. We are getting too obsessed with Hollywood’s realism.”

Takeaway: Tap into mythology for some interesting conflicts and insights into human behaviour. Stories need not be real. They should be lifelike.

Mythology: Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey

The three phases the hero has to go through for the hero’s spirit to be unleashed.

Departure

–        The Call

–        Refusal of the Call

–        Supernatural Aid

–        Crossing of the first threshold

–        Belly of the whale

Initiation

–        Road of trials

–        Meeting with the goddess

–        Women as temptress

–        Atonement with the Father

–        Apotheosis (Harmony)

–        The Ultimate Boon

Return

–        Refusal to return

–        Magic Light

–        Rescue from without

–        Crossing of the Return Threshold

–        Master of the two worlds

–        Freedom to live

This is a part of Joseph Campbell’s book, A Hero with a Thousand Faces.

George Lucas’ Star Wars: A New Hope is based largely on this journey.

Takeaway: Overcome the hurdles at each stage. Our lives are a series of heroic journeys. The hero’s struggle is rewarding. S/he is defined by her/his steadfast commitment. Our creative blocks come out of residues of parental repression. In life, like in films, we need to resolve our psychological blocks to emerge as heroes.

Session 9: Master class with Himanshu Sharma

Screenplays are not supposed to be read. They’re supposed to be seen.  You might disagree with something but you should write it with conviction.

While discussing his method, Himanshu told us that he imagines scenes and snippets and starts building them up. For Tanu Weds Manu, the scene where Tanu has passed out and Manu kisses her came to him first. He discussed it with Anand Rai and they took it ahead. He writes a scene and finds a way to get there. Himanshu calls it the experience of discovery – if he’s taking trouble to figure it out, even the audience won’t find it predictable.

He believes that his films work because of nostalgia. Stay rooted. Write what you know. Even in that milieu, scandal is always better than banal.

Encash your current emotional situation – be it a heartbreak or a divorce.

While discussing the flaws of his films, he gave an instance of Raanjhanaa. The second half was problematic. The entire political chunk was not written well. Kundan’s character was not supposed to be as sweet as he appears in the film. Kundan’s character has stayed with him and demands a new film.

The scene where Manu proposes to Datto and calls her Tanu in TWMR was a genuine mistake. It was a typo and it played out as a good moment.

Pappi is essentially an extension of Mannu. They are the same.

Dattoo was portrayed as a strong character, so that she could handle the abandonment by Manu.

On the toughest part of writing, Himanshu says, “Main climax hi nahi kar pata”, which drew quite a few laughs.

Day  4

Session 10: Master class Saiwyn Quadros and Sanyuktha Chawla (Writer and dialogue writer of Neerja)

Saiwyn wanted to make a woman centric film since female actors are more willing to work with first time writer/directors than male heroes. He admitted that if it was in his hands, he would have cast a girl from Manipur in the role of the athlete in Mary Kom.

While speaking of her journey, Sanyukhta said, “Have you ever seen a rich writer?”

During the narration of Neerja, it was the climatic point where Neerja’s parents receive her body on her 23rd birthday that made the biggest impact. Ram Madhvani wanted it to be a mother-daughter story. Not a story about hijack. The end would have been sappy but Shabana’s speech made it inspirational.

Writers have to mislead the viewers. During ‘Neerja’, when she opens the emergency exit, you feel like she is going to be safe. How can she die now?

 On the terrorists not displaying more of their characteristics, Saiwayn said, delving into the Libya/Palestine issue would alienate the audience. Their character exploration would take away from Neerja’s journey. The language they spoke was an issue. Earlier they thought of going with Urdu and later, Arabic. “We thought when the passengers don’t understand what the terrorists are speaking, it leads to more dread. The terrorists couldn’t fit into the bracket of menace. They were uncertain.”

On Ram Madhvani being a tough taskmaster:  The scenes in the plane were shot in 12 days with a four camera setup. Ram Madhvani wanted it to be more like theatre. It involved one hour takes without cuts.

The script involved an emotional objectives draft and the business objectives draft (who’s doing what in scenes, like Neerja winding the tape of a cassette on her way to the airport).

While converting conversation into dialogue, find a real person as a reference for that character.

Add something new to a true story. The audience will then be convinced that you are capable of surprising them. The real Neerja was a Dire Straits fan, not a Rajesh Khanna fan. Saiwyn’s father was a Rajesh Khanna fan. Since Rajesh Khanna’s character, Anand celebrates death, it was fitting.

Session 11: Scene Design and Dialogue

Anjum continued his discussion about the first scene introducing the character of Antonio Salieri in the film, Amadeus.

In that context, Anjum explained how to use dialogue as action rather than dialogue as information. Resist the need to answer a dialogue with a dialogue. What does the character want? What are his expectations? When the expectations of two characters don’t match, you have drama! In the Amadeus scene, the concern of the writer was eliciting Salieri’s grief? No one remembers him. He is in an asylum. He is envious of Mozart, who is more acclaimed. He works much harder than Mozart but still Mozart is better. This envy is a universal condition.

Two and a half minutes is ideal time for a scene to unfold.

Vijay’s character is overcompensating in Deewar. The knowledge of psychological defence mechanisms can be very helpful in writing dialogues.

While constructing a scene and writing dialogues, take two steps forward and one step backward. The uncertain helps maintain the intrigue.

Deconstructing a scene from Satya where Bhiku Mhatre returns home from prison, Anjum said, “Be faithful to the characters and where they come from.” Despite being a love scene, Bhiku slaps his wife. This is their world. She slaps him back. That is catharsis. It shows how intimately they know each other. Look for such possibilities.

Push your characters. Push your pen. Don’t tell the audience what they already know.

We went to study the scene from Sixth Sense where the kid reveals to the mother that he sees ghosts. He explained how the choice of place and time is perfect. They are both in a car and stuck in a traffic jam. The mother is forced to give him undivided attention. The dialogue uses natural anxieties of the characters.  The wordplay is worth observing in this scene.

Takeaway: When a dialogue has a dramatic surprise, it is good writing.

Session 12: Master Class with Sriram Raghavan

Anjum asked us to watch Sriram’s short, The Eight Column Affair, and his film on Raman Raghav before introducing him.

Sriram spoke about what didn’t work with Agent Vinod. “You love it too much. You hug it too hard. You kill it.” He wishes to re-edit Agent Vinod and put it on Youtube.

In Badlapur, grief turns into uncontrollable anger. Anjum asked Sriram, if the protagonist waited for 20 years, he should have come up with a better revenge plan. Sriram clarified, “He was not brewing revenge. He just shut himself up for 20 years. He was confining himself. It is not his agenda. The agenda finds him when a lady knocks on his door. The misogyny in the character is intentional”. Sriram accepted that the film should have shed some light on the emotional state of the protagonist during his confinement.

On his method: “I take a book. Read half of it and then brainstorm with my friends about the possible turns the story can take. I also like to play a certain kind of music to be in the zone. Jaideep is my Dial-a-dialogue.” He confessed that he hated it when a writer once gave camera directions in the script – “Zack Snyder style slo mo.”

Session 13: Master Class with Jaideep Sahni

Since he was an engineer, Jaideep looked at a screenplay as an algorithm to make a film. It is a scientific process.

The writer confesses to having never watched Hindi films before writing Jungle; his only exposure to Bollywood being Hindi songs. He realized careers work only for people who want to do one thing forever. So he decided to let go of those careers once and for all to live simply but do everything he wanted. This freedom helped him be a writer. When he came across the screenplay of Gandhi at a bookshop one day, it changed his life. “I fell in love with screenwriting by then and kept trying to learn and make my own screenplays and songs and showing them to anybody who had the time.”

He says, Bunty aur Babli taught him to insert lip-sync songs in a script. He could do away with 15 pages of his script after Gulzar wrote the song, Chote Chote shehron se, Khali bor dopahron se.

His scripts get their dramatic energy from life. Though he didn’t know much about the sub-culture of organized crime, he used his knowledge of the group dynamics of student politics while writing Company. He grew up seeing the helplessness and self-righteousness of the middle-class and wrote Khosla ka Ghosla. Based on a real incident in his life, he had suggested the second half of the film as a solution when he was a kid.

He had heard of Kiraaye ke baraati (Shuddha Desi Romance) but it took him two months to find them and write about them.

Jaideep wanted to focus on small towns like Jaipur in Rajasthan and not depict deserts. Details like the way women wear a dupatta around their faces for privacy more than protection against the sun in Tier II cities intrigue him and trigger story ideas.

Session 14: Master class with Varun Grover and Neeraj Ghaywan

Objectivity is the biggest treasure of collaboration. The run-up to the first draft is the most beautiful process. Find your film before you go to the final draft.

Varun mentioned that he was an emotional wreck after his college stint drew to a close. Going back and feeling like a Banarasi was important to him. “A lot of stuff in the films exists just because of our love for the city.” He mentioned that the working title of the film was Raand-Saand-Seedhi-Sanyasi.

The montage sequences in the film are a tribute to Inarritu’s Babel and Amores Perros. They advised against inserting stylistic elements in the screenplay.

Neeraj spoke about how 7-8 mentors at Sundance helped them hone the screenplay.

They also admitted how they willingly went ahead with some contrivances in the film.

Day  5

Session 15: Master class with Sridhar Raghavan

He began with an introduction of Trinity Writers’ Room and the process they followed. Only 2 out of 8 writers selected had formal experience. Passion was the only qualifying criterion apart. They were asked to write a film review and a scene that could be added/removed from a particular film. So, they picked ardent, funny and well-read writers who would love the process of collaboration while writing.

Their first focus is ideas. Come up with as many ideas as possible. We latch on to our pet ideas. At a buffet, why stuff your plate with salads? Make a circuit of the whole place first. Take an idea; try all the routes – comedy, thriller etc. The Writers’ Room is training the writers to covert ideas into stories and to explore genre. The ideas could come through various sources – a poem, a painting or an article.

Sridhar’s process – I am a voracious reader and traveller.  I keep collecting data and putting it in different shoeboxes. I read somewhere that even after you burn a piece of paper, there is way to retrieve the text. This forensic device became a source of ideas.

The duality of Goa fascinated me. After hearing of a murder in Arpora, I spoke to a number people and collected information. I indulged in free association and wrote a piece. I showed it to Nishikant Kamath. It was not a screenplay but prose. It was not meant to be a movie but a book till Fox Studios picked it up.

I would advice you to focus more on characters. Take reference points for characters from real life instead of thinking of a character like ‘Daniel Craig’ from so and so film.

He went on to explain about digital writing – episodic writing which involves more character exploration. It is too early to discern the structure of digital writing. Narcos as a film didn’t do well but the series gave the characters room to breathe. Watch every pilot that comes out of different countries. He recommended Turkish television shows for the writing.

Session 16: Master Class with Juhi Chaturvedi

Juhi spoke about how she fought with her father to get into fine arts only to find out much later that writing was her true calling.

On the premise of Vicky donor, Juhu spoke about how the idea came to her after she had her first child. The vague idea that triggered the premise was – What if a guy goes about donating sperm but cannot have his own kids.

Anjum intervened and explained how films like Piku and Vicky Donor are not so much about constipation or sperm donation but more about the emotional consequences of those conditions.

On writing dialogue, Juhi said, “I don’t write character sketches. Forget you’re a writer when you write dialogues. Talk like the characters. Let the characters talk crap. See if you can turn your scenes into moments. Piku doesn’t say ‘Don’t go’, she says, ‘You’re going?’”

Juhi doesn’t like to reference films. She doesn’t watch anything when she’s writing. Day-to-day characters and the mundane fascinate her.

When she rehearses, she rehearses the silent moments as well.

Anjum mentioned how the end of Piku didn’t go down very well with him.  “Sattar saal ki umar mein ek badi potty ki aur mar gaya.” Piku and Bhaskor feed off each other. Many of us agreed that a resolution while he was alive would have uplifted the film. After his death, if her psychological issues remain, she is still not liberated.

Session 17: Writing Protocols/Professional guidance

Process

1)     Write a working premise

2)     1 Page story – (Synopsis – paragraph format – like a short story)

3)     4 Page Story – (Synopsis – paragraph format – like a short story)

4)     Revise the premise

5)     8 and half pages – Treatment Note – Has to have the possibility of showing on the screen

6)     Step Outline – The determining document. (30-35 pages). Include one line scenes with scene numbers. Also known as beat sheet. (Ideal number of scenes – 75 to 100).

7)     Script without dialogue (Casting, budgeting, location can be done on this basis)

8)     Script with dialogue or screenplay – (Maximum – 100 pages)

When you introduce a character, use ALL CAPS. For example, NAVEEN (mid-30s, lanky with a nervous energy)

First scene after the interval is a buffer scene. People take time to settle. Factor a scene that offers a recap even while it’s taking the story ahead.

Beat is a significant change not expressed with a huge reaction. Whenever such a moment occurs, write BEAT. Use it sparingly.

A song is a scene. Mention the description of the song. What it is doing? What will the song encompass visually?

Quick Tips & Tools

PITCH

1)     Concept Note – Half a Page

2)      Why does this script have the possibility of universal resonance?

3)     1 page story + 4 page story

4)     Covering Letter about yourself and mention which stage the script is in

Do not send this mail without having written the script.

Softwares available for screenwriting:

1)     Celtx

2)     Final Draft (Paid)

3)     Movie Magic Screenwriter

Screenwriter Labs

1. Sundance

2. Drishyam

3. Mahindra Mumbai Mantra New Voices Fellowship

– Read one script every day.

– Make a list of a dozen films, you really like. Watch the film completely. Write the step outline.

– Use your own fingers and experience the magic of transcribing scripts and writing them. You will feel like a contributor of the script.

– When your thinking becomes like that of a cinematic storyteller, every sentence will become a shot.

– He also covered copyright advice and the importance of FWA. While mentioning his busyness, he said that he doesn’t care for award ceremonies. One of the awards he has received is in the drawer where he keeps his ‘undies’.

Closing Talk by Subhash Ghai

The beginning of this session was like a time warp, thanks to an old AV about the showman.  He was quite the candid raconteur.

He advised aspiring writers to make a case study file. Note down the box office collections, reviews and your own thoughts against every new movie watched.  You will learn to see trends and make connections.

He also took a dig at a writer-director duo that conducted a master class during the event and couldn’t articulate the premise of their own film. Ghai blurted out the premise of their film and the loglines of many other new age films.

He believes that Ram Lakhan is similar in spirit to Kapoor and Sons. Cinema has to change with time. The new world wants to dissociate itself from the values of the 70s. “Fine by me. I believe in making movies for the audiences.”

Once a writer told Ghai, “Main story sunane se darta hun. Screenplay suniye. Treatment ki kahaani hai.” He told the participants to not make this pitching mistake. “Agar tumhari kahaani treatment ki hai, toh tumhari kahani beemar hai.”

He exhorted the participants to hone their narration skills or get the help of a good narrator while pitching stories.

——————————————————————————–

The brilliance of the syllabus and the speaker can’t be overstated but I do hope that they come up with a way to handle the Q&A session. It is a colossal waste of time to sit through sessions with existential questions like, “Sir, When will we win an Oscar?” Gushing is not questioning. “Sir, every frame of every film of yours is a painting” – what is the query in this statement? There are no right answers to wrong questions. When Anjum recommended Ganguli’s Mahabharata, there was a question about whether he was referring to Rupa Ganguly. Some of these questions did provide comic relief but it was appalling to see a writer and an actor (participants) break into a brawl over who gets to ask questions to the master class speakers.

– Dipti Kharude

 

image1Film Heritage Foundation has announced the debut of its “Do You Speak Cinema” programme with a two-day workshop for children.

Venue : Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai

Dates : May 27th and 28th, 2016.

Workshop : “Do You Speak Cinema” is aimed at immersing children in the magic of cinema, transforming the experience from mere passive viewing to actively engaging with this art form and teaching them the language of the moving image. The idea is to make children a more discerning audience in a world where they are constantly bombarded with images.

Highlights : A rare opportunity to see, touch and watch films on vintage film projectors. Learning about the pioneers of cinema from Melies to Chaplin to Phalke. Touching and feeling film strips and drawing frames.

Age Group : First two workshops are for children from ages 8 – 12

Contact : To register, call 022-22844484 or email – education@csmvs.in

“Do You Speak Cinema” is a part of Film Heritage Foundation’s educational initiatives based on the belief that cinema is an art form and that the moving image is an important visual document of our heritage and the times we live in.