Tuesday, July 15, 2008

of dvds and distribution and self-propagated piracy

Two days ago, Ba called to say that a little girl in Baroda has watched 'Lilkee' 50 times. She asked her grandfather to write a letter to Bhai (since Bhai is a well-known author and features writer in Gujarat, his address is not hard to come by) that whenever Aiman went to Baroda, the little girl would like to take her to the ashram where she watched the film with other children in a camp.

Through the last 1 & 1/2 years, we've received many such calls, at odd times of the day or evening, from people we don't know, who want to talk to us about the film.

I feel happy, as who wouldn't? It's a different thing, showing the film to family, friends or acquaintance and completely different to have it seen by complete strangers. The response from strangers is untainted by any need to be polite, or kind, or encouraging. They bother to call because they have something to say.

Yet, at the same time, I also feel frustrated. Making a film takes a minimum of 2 years from your life. From story to final print. And all the administrative work later, getting a censor certificate, work stills, publicity material and so on. To make a film and have it stacked in the godown of the Children's Film Society is even more frustrating.

They have been showing the film around. But of course, they don't bother to let the director know where and when they have shown it. I got a call from someone in Hyderabad, who said they had seen it at the Children's Film festival there. If I had known it was going there, I might have liked to go with it myself.

There is no commercial distribution of course. I know friends have tried to get distributors interested in their film, but commercial exhibitors and distributors balk at the idea of dealing with the bureaucracy of the CFSI.

Last week, I received what I presume was a mass mailer to all the people who had ever worked with CFSI, that we weren't supposed to send our film to festivals, or to any distributors, channels, etc. Any such negotiation would be undertaken by CFSI itself. In short, we ought to forget about our films, completely.

In the face of this blank wall, I have been distributing DVDs to friends and family, and hoping for them to show it around as much as they can, and like to. At least, that way, people see my work. So, in effect, I am pirating my own film.

But CFSI when asked to sell DVDs to an institution, last year, which was interested in a 100 copies replied that they had not yet made DVDs, and not yet fixed a price on them.

So, arrest me.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

a short review

Always good to get feedback from the audience.

Here it is.

Friday, November 24, 2006

waiting to be shot

The women waited impatiently for the camera. Finally, we didn't even use the shot. Where I was puffing and panting with my own weight, going up and down the hills, these women collect hay, wood and water all day long. A hard, hard life.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

aiman and monty

When we reached Kanakchauri for the first time, two large dogs greeted our jeep. Monty and Kallu belong to the village, and hang around the road near the entrance leading up to the steep climb up to the temple.

They were a frightening sight, but they greeted Aiman as if they were long-lost friends. Aiman bought them lots and lots of Glucose biscuits, and of course after that, they hung around Aiman all day.

In a few hours, the village kids got jealous at this desertion and ran away, calling out again and again "Kallu, Monty, Kallu, Monty." Reluctantly, the dogs followed their real owners, but were back the next day and the next, to meet Aiman.

Here, Aiman talks to Monty between shots.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Amit smiles in Garhwal. Amit is Makar's naughty 8-year old. He acts as one of Lilkee's friends, playing hide-and-seek at the beginning of the film.

The last day of "Lilkee"

For the last couple of months I've been finishing off work on "Lilkee" very reluctantly.

How often I have thought, what is this madness that prompts you to make a film? I'm never going to even want to make a film again.

It's hard, when you are working with very little money, because you have to do most of everything on your own, even all the not-so-fun stuff, like couriering letters, filling up forms, photo-copying scripts and more tedious stuff like that.

But yesterday, when I went to the lab, to make my final payment, waiting outside near the car, for the negatives of the film to be delivered, I felt a rush of nostalgia already for the fun we'd had for the last year.

The truth was it was hardly ever any fun, while we were doing it, we were all working so hard, and exhausted most of the time. But, but... already the stories came back to my mind, and I started saying to Vivek, remember when .. remember when...

And when I came back home, the Mac had behaved impeccably well, and encoded a good DVD (it's harder than it sounds) and so, I felt finally, all's well that ends well.

And by evening, Vivek and I were sitting down and pontificating about how we'd do better the next time we are making a film. And already I'm thinking, what next, what next?

Space Bar said...

congrats! and i'm so glad you're already planning the next one. waiting to watch lilkee.

9:09 AM

hey congratulations! so glad that it's done, you must be like phew!
All the best for the next one. would love to see Lilkee...

2:51 PM

surabhi said...

CONGRATULATIONS BATUL! waiting to see the film-please let me know when you screen the film...

9:53 PM

My football match

While the football fever is on, I remember the day we had to shoot the football match for "Lilkee". For days, I'd been trying to pass on the responsibility to someone else, Vivek maybe, an assistant director, the kids, and hoping they'd bite. I'd also tried wistful sighing, reminding everyone that on a commercial film set, the match would be looked after by an action choreographer, and I may not even have landed up on the location. We would also have had at least two days to shoot the match, more raw stock, and professional child artistes, who knew how to play football.

But this is a low-budget film, and I have no choice but to land up on location, and face the unit, all men, who look at me knowing I know nothing of football, nor anything about shooting the game. Twenty or more children, from the apartment block we are shooting, are at their morning best, creating a din, which makes it even harder for me to assume or pretend control. They kick around the ball, and go from one end of the garden to the other, and behave as if they've never played football before. The pathetic attempts I've made at a shot breakdown, curl up limply in my sweaty, terrified hands.

We have two hours to finish the shoot. Vivek's getting impatient, we are all yelling at each other to no effect, my assistant director goes off into silence nursing a cold. I go off to the loo, and have a secret cry, sure that everyone finds me ridiculous. I come back on location to find Aiman crying as well, for no real reason except she can feel my desperation.

I wonder why I ever wrote that football match into the script. We bung through the two hours, in a sort of stoic frenzied way. And trust to the editor to cover up the "absence" of the director.

I watch Germany and Argentina play for the World Cup, look at the tight circle of cameras around them, and keep thinking of how I could have handled my own football match better. I'm looking at the TV, but don't see Argentina make a goal.

Sometimes, you are so busy scratching your own backside, you miss the moment.

Indeterminacy said...

From a complete layman's point of view, film and sportswise, I think the best you can hope to do is film some random footage and hope you get something you can edit together later. The probable advantage on television is there are many cameras going at the same time, so they can always show the best view at all times. Maybe one camera should follow the ball and the second camera should be one step ahead of the ball in the direction it is going, or trained on the goal in that direction.

I saw the Germany-Argentina match myself, and think it was an especially dramatic and tense game. Probably a good game to use as an example / source of inspiration.

I probably sound like a complete amateur?

5:42 PM