Short filmmakers show snippets of city life at “Coimbatore 30”

Long shots of the city’s educational institutions, its expansive temples, a power point quiz, snapshots from the city’s past and present and a ‘recreated’ google page about Coimbatore — these were some of the entries that made it to the finals of Coimbatore 30. The 30-second short film contest was organised by KTVR Creative Reels as part of Coimbatore Vizha.

More than 50 short filmmakers, all college students from the city turned up on a Sunday morning to meet like-minded creators, hear their stories and share their films and experiences. Their employed ‘seniors’ told them to make all the films they wanted to during college, because once they entered the industry, free time would become rare. R.S. Pradeep Raj, an embedded systems engineer from Bangalore, a mentor for many of these young filmmakers, nodded in agreement. Pon Rathnavel of KTVR Creative Reels said the event was a chance to honour these filmmakers.

Besides the films chosen for the fest, they also screened some popular short films — the touching Evano Oruvan, about passing on a good turn; Unheard, a gem of a film about a cricket match and a speech and hearing impaired boy; the thriller Marmam about land grabbing, The Fifth Sense, a disturbing take on the underbelly of Coimbatore, and the slightly longer Penn, a film on sexual predators.

Penn took its director Manimaran S.G. of PSG CAS three months and Rs. 35,000 to make. The rest were made on a budget of about Rs. 1,000. The cast and crew were either classmates or friends. Salary was a home-cooked meal, tea, puffs and, occasionally, coffee. Shooting a movie with friends is actually a great bonding exercise, said Selvadas K. of MCET.

K. Ram Prakash of GCT said that despite being engineering students, they made films with minimal technology and focus on the script. K. Uthamaraj of KTVR Knowledge Park for Engineering and Technology, who made Marmam, said they experimented with angles to rid a film of a ‘low-budget’ look.

His collegemate K. Kishore spoke about the effectiveness of spreading a message through films. “People might listen if you make an effective film telling them to wear helmets.”

There are other benefits too. A team from GCT helped out at an orphanage after visiting it to make a film. Uthamaraj said shooting in the city also opened their eyes to its treasures. Marmam was shot in and around the vintage Thudiyalur railway station. “We have allowed it to wither away. Is this how we treat heritage?” he asked.

For R. Bharath of GCT, making a short film meant more time with friends. Many spent nights in dilapidated houses, cooking and bonding as they explored camera angles and value-for-money shots. According to Manimaran, working with first-time actors and shooting and reshooting scenes honed one as a filmmaker. Realism and rawness are the cogs that drive the short film movement, felt B. Narendran from KTVR.

Sometimes, generating even Rs. 1,000 to make a film proved to be a burden, said P. Vijayakumar of GCT. Asking strangers for lifts, making up stories to parents to raise funds… these were only some of the things they did in order to keep alive their passion for short films.

Many of the parents were not very enthusiastic, but you can’t blame them entirely, said Ram Prakash. “After all, we carry a camera in the hand that is meant to carry the draft scale!” Peer recognition kept many of them going. “Sometimes, we were looked upon as dummies,” he laughed.

“But, short films allow us to have a life. I am thrilled when people flip through the ‘academic’ first page of my resume, and smile on seeing the ‘artistic’ second page. That’s the power of short films.”