Short films are the de facto standard to choose directing talent right now believes filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane
For acclaimed filmmaker Vikramaditya Motwane, short films are the way of the future. “Actors can practise in front of the mirror while singers can just sing. But what can directors do? Short films are the only way to practise and learn. Now with so much advancement in technology, it’s very easy,” says the director of hits like Lootera (2013) and Udaan (2010).
The filmmaker was in the city recently with critic Anupama Chopra to choose finalists for the Jameson – Empire Awards 2014, the shortest of short film competitions titled ‘Done In Sixty Seconds’ in which entrants from across the country were challenged to remake their favourite Hollywood movie in just 60 seconds. The competition was for any form of filmmaking from animation to shooting with a smart phone and the winning filmmaker will travel to London with both of them to attend the Jameson Empire Awards and be in attendance with winners from 19 other countries when the global winner is announced.
On the competition, Vikram says he loves the concept. “The challenge to remake a full length film in 60 seconds is hard. Working within boundaries is much more challenging but also good. The aspiring filmmakers need to really rake their brains to see how to do it and this brings out real creativity.”
Is this a trend in choosing talent for the film industry? Vikram replies in the affirmative. “Short films are in fact the de facto standard for choosing directing talent right now. It makes judging easy. If you want to look for tomorrow’s directors, or even for that matter, sound designers, music directors and cinematographers, the only way to do it is through short films. Short films are made more for the love of making it rather than for money. This is the only way of showing the world what you can do. Now most definitely because of YouTube and vimeo, it’s across the board. As a producer I know that when somebody comes to me with an idea I can ask for a script or a synopsis and a short film now.”
On talent coming from film schools, Vikram says, “Schools like Mumbai-based Whistling Woods International are definitely sending out the next generations of directors. Not just directors, even technicians have all come from film schools.”
Being part of the panel of judges, Vikam and Chopra chorus that they’ll know what they are looking for when they see it. “We of course look for originality and wit. The really good ones we’ve seen in the previous competitions were really funny. It’s also hard to do a serious take although the one that won last year was a serious topic. It’s basically how you distil the essence of a movie into 60 seconds. The one that meets the challenge best wins.”
On looking for talent in India, Vikram says he would love to see us in a place like where Korea is right now. “In Korea, homebred champions are the onscreen heroes and their best directors are indigenous. Here though 90 percent of films are regional, directors have not yet become people you look up to. They are not established brand names yet. When we were growing up in the 90s, our heroes were Danny Boyle, David Fincher and others. Hopefully, filmmakers like Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap will become the heroes for the next generation.”
He quickly adds that it is good times in Indian cinema. “There is a shift in sensibility and there is variety in Indian cinema. The fact that every kind of cinema can make it out there in the right budget is good news. Movies like the Lunchbox are a huge hit. Today, there is an audience for everything.”
For the director in him, Vikram says he has his hands full right now with Phantom Productions. “There are a lot of films getting produced and Anurag Kashyap, Madhu Mantena, Vikas Bahl and me are hands on in this. There is a lot of fire-fighting going on with so many creative heads involved but its good fun.”