A post apocalyptic road drama

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He has his aim set high, with a bag of short films already to his credit! Pursuing his passion and making his dreams come true is Athul Prabhakaran, Bachelors in Fine Arts student of AISFM. The ardent filmmaker made his first film with a webcam even before he hit his teens and has worked as a writer, director and editor for his nine short films in three languages. All set to make his 10th project, a post apocalyptic road drama called ‘Zaman’, through crowd-funding, he is all gung-ho about starting the shoot soon.

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Here it is in Athul’s own words about how the whole experience has been; from ideation to jotting it down on paper to bringing the team together to crowd funding to scouting for locations to finally getting ready to start the shoot!

The initial idea for Zaman came to me five years ago, when I was trying to justify a script with as minimal number of actors within a story that judged the existence of God in a world devoid of humans. I didn’t shoot it then for various reasons, and I’ve constantly been revisiting the idea, adding something valuable every time I do so.

Last summer, a friend and I were brainstorming for an idea after scrapping a sci-fi project that we were planning for months. I pitched Zaman to him, and he loved the idea. We spent the rest of the day structuring the story that would serve as the backbone to the film being made.

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“The film begins with Tawhid, a survivor who has seen the world crumble. A widower traumatised by losing his wife to the catastrophe. Tawhid is threatening to take his life and then a mysterious radio broadcast from a small community calling themselves “The Farm” plays. They claim to have resourced electricity and food. The film follows his quest to survive in a world devoid of normalcy that traces his transformation in the face of adversity. On this journey he encounters a 60 year old woman, her dog and a few other survivors who make for an eventful and thought provoking road drama, which all ends with a shocking twist.”

After college reopened, I pitched it to my fellow collaborators at AISFM. Everyone seemed to love the idea and this prompted me to start out on the screenplay. Zaman was co-written with Isha Thota, with whom I share writing credits on one other film, Take Your Gangster to Work.

As the screenplay took shape, it was very clear that everything was obviously on a much larger scale, a lot of things that we took for granted in a smaller shoot, in terms of times taken to say – complete a script, or even lock on the camera, took much longer than anticipated.

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Earlier short films were made on a much smaller budget – where the biggest argument about “investment” was who’s going to buy the batteries for the Zoom recorder. On Zaman it was a whole different ball game, so from what started out as a film that would require a minimal use of actors, grew into something that needed Rs. 5 lakhs to be effectively realised the way we envisioned.

Zaman will be photographed by Akash Subramanian, my first roommate, a genius of a friend and a brilliant collaborator who has a good eye for framing. The next person who is a very important part of the film actually helped me write the treatment of the film that I paraded around to certain members of the faculty and potential collaborators. Ashwin Rajashekar. My sound designer.

The film was crowd-funded on fueladream.com, where it was funded a 123%, which means we overshot our target goal. I’d really like to thank all my funders, a lot of people really pulled together – friends family, and some unknown philanthropists. Many of which were out of the blue, the support has really been overwhelming.  This got us a lot of publicity, where we were featured in three newspapers – The Better India, Hans India and The Indian Express. This really helped with the additional funding and really created some good buzz around the film. And yes, it was also very flattering.

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Zaman is my first major short film in terms of vision, filmmaking and storytelling. It will be shot in the last two weeks of December and a short second schedule in January to finish post production for an April screening at AISFM’s Student Theatre, something that the AISFM management was very helpful and eager about.

Crew:
Director – Athul Prabhakaran
Chief Assistant Director – Shivam Sinha
Original story – Athul Prabhakaran, SJ Nitesh Sabharish and Isha Thota
Screenwriters – Athul Prabhakaran and Isha thota
Cinematographer – Akash Subramanian
Associate Cinematographer – Abhipsa Sahoo
Gaffer – Sreyash Myneni
Sound Designer – Ashwin Rajashekar
Assistant Sound – Joshua Thakur
Production Designers – Mahesh Rambhatla and Nidhi Kohlatkar
Line Producer – S. Venkat Narayana Murthy
Production Assistant – Sasmit Parkhe
Crowdfunding and PR Manager – Preksha Trivedi

Take a look at Athul’s pre-production video for Zaman: http://bit.ly/2g70Rwf

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