Karthik Subbaraj's tryst with films began when he decided he didn't want to be a software engineer anymore. So, he quit his job to star in a reality show for young directors, where he was judged a runner-up. Now, a year down the line, one of his short films has made it to the international scene.
‘Black and White' is the story of an award-winning photographer who anonymously receives an antique camera as a gift. He begins to use it and what happens thereafter forms the plot. The fantasy thriller, which was aired during the semi-final of ‘Naalaiya Iyakunar', won the Best Film and Best Actor award in the series. It was screened at the Bodega Bay International Short Film Festival in California in May and is also one of the entries at the Short Shorts Film Festival and Asia 2011, which will be held in Tokyo in mid-June.
“There were two Indian films selected for Bodega Bay, including mine. The other, ‘Wind', was directed by a friend of mine, Manikandan. I was the assistant director of ‘Wind' and also wrote the screenplay. Manikandan, on the other hand, was the cinematographer for ‘Black and White'. In Short Shorts, my film is the only one produced completely in India. There is another Indian film too, but it was partly produced in the U.S. If my film wins in this festival, it might be selected for the Short Films category of the Oscars,” says the 27-year-old filmmaker.
Karthik has previously bagged awards in the Norway Tamil Film Festival as Best Storywriter for his film ‘Neer', while his colleague Manikandan and lead actor Vijay Sethupathy won Best Cinematography and Best Actor for ‘Neer' and ‘Petti Case'.
A few months ago, Karthik started Stone Bench Creations, a production label along with five other friends, through which he hopes to come up with distribution avenues for short film makers. “We're currently trying to work out an online model where filmmakers can register and earn money through their projects because right now, it's difficult to even get back the money you put into making a short film,” he says.
What kind of difficulties do short film makers face? “Getting permission to shoot is very difficult because people think any kind of shooting is for a movie and demand money. For ‘Neer', we spent about Rs.70,000 just on the boat. This increases the cost of production considerably. Getting actors isn't that difficult as people are ready to do good roles. On an average, any short film will cost at least Rs. 60,000. Apart from film festivals, where is the avenue to get that money back?” he asks.
Currently working on a feature film, Karthik says he is experimenting with different genres. “I like dark humour and the feature film I'm working on is in that genre. It took about four months to finish the script and now I'm waiting to take it to the next level.”