‘The White Fields’ Wins Best Editing Award

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A big, bright and happy day for us! A student grad film has won an award at an international film festival this year! The ​White Fields“, directed by Kartik Parmar and edited by Sai Murali won the Best Editing Award (Student) in the 6th Kolkata Shorts International Film Festival 2017.

The White Fields is a story about Madhav, a poor farmer who learns that his son needs urgent money to continue his education in the city. But the situation in their village turns out to be a big obstacle. The village head announces that the cotton harvest won’t be sold till next week because they have to stick the cotton harvest back to the plants to please a minister who is about to pass by their village in a few days.

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Madhav discusses with his wife and takes on the task to gather the money. Adding to his woes is his cow, which has run away further adding up to his tensions. He tries requesting a few people to lend him money, but fails. He ends up resorting to threatening one of his friends, which in turn makes his friend flee the village.

Madhav finally gives up. He feels humiliated when his son learns that his dad couldn’t pay on time. The next day is important. The fields are white again. The whole village awaits the noble minister. Madhav looks in disdain as the minister’s convoy passes by in a flash almost making all their effort seem insignificant.

The brilliantly crafted, shot and edited short film has already started creating ripples in the film circuit!

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‘Speaking the unSPOKEN’ – Aayush Agarwal

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The documentary, ‘unSPOKEN’, is a journey of a forty-year-old man, in a seven minute time span, about how he stands strong, not only for himself but for others like him. It is an attempt to speak about the taboo that is not spoken about even though there are victims and abusers of the same almost everywhere. This film speaks about one case in particular, and how the protagonist ‘got over it’ by immersing himself in art.

The film starts off with an empty canvas that is being filled by Ganesh. As the journey progresses, you realize that there are emotions that are splashed onto the canvas which eventually end up creating art. The painting has a very deep meaning that can be relatable to anybody who has a buried trauma haunting them. Film, according to me, is a very strong medium to reach out to people. Through this, one can make people more aware of what’s happening around them, with their friends, family or children. Things could happen to anybody – and unfortunately, can happen anywhere.

Being the director, I wanted to keep the film as real and as untouched as I could especially while showcasing any aspect of his (Ganesh’s) life. The script was kept crisp so that we keep the film short and to the point. I did keep in mind that it was important for me to get to the roots from the beginning, especially since he was bullied ever since childhood. The script was written, narrated and visualized by Ganesh himself. Revanth Vojjala (our film’s cinematographer) and I sat down with him after the final draft was written and it was then that we started to give it a structure.

This was something that Ganesh wanted to do for about a year but for a few reasons it hadn’t happened. Coincidentally, I wanted to make a film about this as well. One day over dinner I shared my idea with him and he said, “I think it’s time”; Ganesh went on to elaborate on how he himself wanted to create awareness about child sex abuse for a very long time. We decided on releasing it on November 19th because that day marks World Prevention Day for Child Abuse.

From a film maker’s perspective, the team had a few obstacles because of the subject of the film. Ganesh had a lot of emotional moments throughout. He was brave and had the courage to speak out loud. Revanth and I tried to ease the situation by our banter and bring a smile on Ganesh’s face.

unSPOKEN’ is not just a film for me. As a director there were times when I would be concerned about how sentiments shouldn’t be hurt, and I had to take extra measures, but all that kept aside, the fact that this was so important to all of us, drove Ganesh, Revanth and myself to sail through.

I had a brilliant team to work with, including our editor Punith Mahesh. I just let everybody do their job, not only because I trust them, but also because they’re all so good at their jobs. This helped the entire process go on smoothly and we had a good time shooting. Fun fact, on the day of the shoot we had the location for about 2 hours, so the painting in the film has been made in less than an hour!

We got to spend some time with the kids and that for me, was the most colourful part of the film. The kind of energy they got to the set added a fresh and positive vibe, lightening the baggage of emotions we had been carrying throughout the shoot.

My collaboration with Ganesh Nallari managed to fall into place so well because we were good friends even before having the ‘Director-Producer’ equation. This made the entire process much easier and ignited a vibe to just go and get things done. All the hardships and obstacles said and done, the end result was all worth it.

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

“It was a dream come true to see myself on the big screen”

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“A dream come true to see myself on the big screen for the very first time,” says she excitedly talking about the short film that is garnering more hits by the day on Youtube. Tanya Joshi, a BFA student from AISFM, is slowly but surely trying to create her own space in the celluloid world. One first step towards that is her stint with the short film Amrutha 96.4 FM. Talking about it all is Tanya here!

So, was it a childhood dream coming true? “Yes, definitely especially coming from a family who is nowhere related to the film industry. It seems more like a fairy tale, but I still have a long way to go. I really look forward to working in films soon. I personally feel that being in AISFM, I have got all these opportunities. The first ever acting project I did was in Annapurna (the music video), then I got this short film Amrutha 96.4 FM. Since then I have never looked back,” she says.

Recollecting how it came by her way, she says “Well, after the music video I started working with a lot of college students in Annapurna. I worked in their semester-end projects. People in college did notice my interest in acting and a lot of students referred my name to independent filmmakers in Hyderabad. Then out of the blue, I got a call from Kishan Katta (Director of Amrutha 96.4 FM). We sat down to read the script, I loved it and so I decided to do this project.”

How does she feel, after the star status it has achieved? “Ha-ha…Wow star status. I think it’s too early to say that I have achieved a star status. I still have a long way to go. But yes I am very happy that few people do know me in Hyderabad because of my acting. I would really thank AISFM for that. I got a lot of exposure because of this college. So I would still say that it’s way too early to say the star status thing. But I am grateful that at such an early age I have started my journey as an actor,” she goes on to say knowing it’s a hard way ahead.

Learning a new language was just one of the things she learnt whilst the making of the short film. Says she, “The only set back that I faced was that this short film was in Telugu, so I really had to learn the language. Also it was for the first time that I was working with an unknown crew. So it took a while for me to understand how things work here.”

Other projects she has been involved with so far are with her seniors’ projects like Pheli Supari, AISFM music video, In Love Dubara, Sales Girl, Lakshman Rekha (The Unwritten Law)  and she has now started doing dubsmashes, which have become quite popular on Instagram.

So, what’s next on the plate? “I am getting calls for many short films, but at the moment I am trying not to take up too many projects in hand as I am in the final year of my degree (BFA in Film & Media). I have taken some time off to work on myself, to make myself ready for the film industry. I am only focusing on myself and the final year of college. If I get a really good project in hand then I would consider doing it,” she says.

Talking about the whole experience of performing, she says, “The whole experience of working in Amrutha 96.4 FM was mind blowing. The shooting of this project was so much fun, as the character Jenny is always hyper and bubbly. That’s how I am in real life as well, so I was able to relate to the character. Before the movie released on YouTube there was a special screening in Prasad’s theatre. So that was a dream come true to see myself on the big screen for the very first time. It recently crossed one lakh views on YouTube. Hence, I am extremely grateful that I am in AISFM because of which I got so many opportunities and I am pretty sure that once I graduate from this prestigious institution, I will have a beautiful journey to look forward to.”

Check out the teaser of the short film http://bit.ly/2bitbxx and the short film itself here