How should a youngster approach filmmaking?
If he is an eighteen year old guy you are speaking about and if he has a good financial backing, then he can take up a Filmmaking Degree in a World Class Film School and spend a few years on a formal Film Education. But if he is financially not very stable, then I would suggest him to start his course right at his home, watching world class Films for a few years. He can continue his normal education/profession and give time for his preparation towards becoming a Filmmaker simultaneously (This is exactly what I did). Once he has a basic knowledge of Filmmaking he can attend a few really good Filmmaking workshops and start making short films & eventually attempt to make his way into the Industry. Overall for every upcoming filmmaker, I strongly recommend watching a whole lot of world class films, which could first shape them into a really sensible Audience and then a Filmmaker.
It’s usually difficult for a newcomer to enter into any team as an assistant director. Why is it so?
If I have to give you my own example; In my team there are about 8 people. 5 of them have been with me from 5-6 years, from my short film days. I have given opportunity to 3 new people. However, till the day my teammates start making their own film, I can’t take them out. I still promise to do my best and give platform to more people and make them a part of my Team in future projects. Also, there are a lot more Film Makers like me, looking for good ADs. I am sure if you try enough and follow up regularly, they will consider making you part of their Team. I Stress on ‘Regular Follow up’ (Obviously not being too intrusive & respecting the Film Maker’s time and contacting him back only when he asks you to) because that shows how keen you are and how badly you want to be on the team and learn.
Do you feel scriptwriters are given enough importance and payments in our sandalwood industry?
There is no point in making a movie when there is no proper script. So importance should be given to scriptwriters and in the context of our Industry, at least the payment, the supporting characters get, should be given to them (They deserve more though). On the flipside, how many Aspiring Screenwriters make an effort to really understand the grammar of Screenwriting and train themselves properly, before calling themselves Screenwriters? Because a few of them contacted me and said that they would want me to take a look at their Script, which they think is really good and can make for a great Film. I did ask them to email it to me. Finally, when I looked at it, it was not even in a Screenplay format and it was so vaguely written, more like a Story Treatment (Not even a Story). My suggestion for them would be to first learn about Screenwriting. There is so much of material available online today and you have access to so many Film Scripts on the websites such as ‘IMSDB’. Spend a few years reading Scripts, watching Films and understanding what is a Screenplay. Attempt following that format and write a few Screenplays. Let a few people read them and find it genuinely good, before you declare yourself a Screenwriter.
Do you follow screenplay formulas which have been successful in past or just go by your intuition?
No. Different Screenwriters have different styles, which I respect. I don’t fall into the category of Screenwriters who follow theory or rules. It doesn’t work for me. For example, I never think about the so called inciting incident, 30 minutes into the Film, as per the Screenwriting rules. I go with my instinct, when writing a Screenplay. The emotion in the story is what drives my writing.
Would you like to direct a star actor in coming days?
Why not! Definitely. However, I prefer working with a Star who understands that Filmmaking is a Director’s medium. As long as the Star does not interfere with my business, I don’t mind Directing them. Story comes first, then the Director. Everyone else is serving the Story and the vision of the Director. I am always open for suggestions though, and I take them if I find them good, no matter from whom it is coming, if it is helping the Story. On the flip side, I wouldn’t entertain an idea being imposed forcefully when it is clearly not fitting the Story.
But when you cast a star actor, you have to satisfy their fans with particular stuff. Isn’t it?
I prefer staying away from making Films catering to a certain section of Audience. I like to deal with content which is universal and is in line with my sensibility as a Filmmaker and Audience too.
Our audience goes on a large scale to star films whereas independent filmmakers have to wait for two-three weeks for that big crowd to come to watch their films. By that time, their film may be removed from the theatre. Your opinion on it?
Not Kannada alone, we also have to worry about other language Films. I faced such a situation with Shuddhi. But right now the only option for Independent Filmmakers is to not release your Film alongside such Films, which are going to get high number of shows comparatively. This is the only way to get your run time at theatres, provided the content is really extraordinary. We can’t blame theaters for it, since it has to be looked from a business angle too. We must continue making good films hoping things will Gradually change.
Are you stuck to any particular genre of filmmaking?
Definitely not. I want to touch all different genres of films. Not just suspense or thriller. But it takes time. It’s not a conscious decision to make my next film as women-centric or thriller. It just happened. Infact “BHINNA” started off as a different genre too. There was no title at that point in time. After I started writing, may be about two-three months, into it, the Genre turned into a psychological thriller. It’s all about the story. You have to start writing it. You just have to follow the emotion. Screenwriting is also an exploration which I realized when writing ‘Bhinna’. As you continue the exploration, at some point in time, you arrive at a destination through a journey you never imagined and all that is much more beautiful, than you expected. Later we put that Film into a particular genre.