Going digital with the documentary
Oct 04 2013
Young filmmakers today are mixing technology with the ‘gritty’ filmmaking genre to tell a good story
Q. Timbaktu won many awards including the national award. What has happened since?
The national award was a pleasant surprise, especially because the ﬁlm doesn’t follow the conventions of a regular documentary. It’s always difficult to quantify the impact of films, but we did ensure that they were screened in multiple spaces to reach a broader audience. It is really heartening to see that the ﬁlm has now taken a life of its own and is being used (and shared) by a multitude of individuals as well as organizations working on themes of sustainable agriculture as well as organic farming both in India and abroad.
We were invited back by the Collective in December 2012 and co-produced a series of 3 short films of 3-5 minutes on specific areas of intervention. Short films become easier to use as an outreach and advocacy tool for the Collective. We’ve got a great response from people who’ve been following us post Timbaktu and we’ll begin pushing one of these short films, It’s A Good Life, into the Indian festival circuit soon.
Q. You say you are in the business of telling a good story. What is the creative process you and the team follow to transform a cause?
What has always inspired us to make films has been untold stories of positive transformation; these could come from any theme, whether that be human rights or climate change or sustainability or anything else that engages our sensibilities as filmmakers. Once we identify a story that we’re really convinced to make a ﬁlm on, we get into the research stage and typically end up meeting people intrinsic to the ﬁlm and exploring the geography where the ﬁlm is to be set. This helps deepen our understanding of the story and helps us create a storyline.
Once the narrative is in place, we head out for the production of the ﬁlm. The post production (edit) is also an interesting phase where we don’t necessarily depend on what has been shot and said, but use multiple media forms to further bolster the narrative and visual treatment. For instance, we love playing around with text, still photographs, music and graphics in our films and over the years, you’ll see that our indie work is slowly shifting to a space where these elements have become as critical as the live action material itself.
Q. Your films use mixed media effectively and you are changing the way documentaries are normally filmed. How do you see the digital landscape influencing the way documentaries are made?
The advent of HDSLRs has absolutely changed the filmmaking experience across the world and democratised it. Today, all you need to make a ﬁlm is a portable camera, a portable audio recorder and a laptop — that’s it! Compare this with a time not so long ago where each of these elements of filmmaking came with a battery of equipment and people professionally trained to handle them. We think that the digital landscape and the internet has completely transformed both the films are made and viewed. For instance, for our ﬁlm Dilli, we had music created by three musicians, all of whom lived in different parts of the world and two whom we’d never met in person before. One of them has today become an intrinsic part of our work — he worked on 112 projects as a music director with us before we finally met him in person when he came to India! That is how technology has evolved and it’s creatively a very liberating experience!
Q. What are you working on currently that you are really excited about?
We have quite a few ideas that we’re incubating internally and exploring making our first feature documentary. We’ve kept a time-horizon of 2015 to complete that. This question takes us back to when started of as Black Ticket Films in 2009, when we formally began working as an agency and begin working on the kind of films we’ve always believed in. With these films travelling to different parts of the world, we’ve had a lot of interest expressed in our work.
This year, we’ve decided to focus on expanding our team and the scope of our work so we’re able to explore verticals we haven’t entered into yet — TV series and ad ﬁlm-making — while continuing to push the boundaries of documentary filmmaking in India!