French filmmaker Noelie Charles helps children from the city make their own short film.

Noelie Charles is no stranger to Hyderabad. She first came to India in 1999 and since then, has spent close to four years in the country, dividing her time between France and India. “I think I was 14 or 15 when I felt a deep attraction to come to India. I don't know why,” says Noelie, who has just finished shooting a short film with children from the SOS Children's Village, at Rajendranagar.

She takes time off while editing the film and shares her experience. “The SOS Village is a beautiful home and I am happy I got to work with the children. From 25 children, we short listed 10,” she says.

The short film is yet to be titled and she has left the choice to the children themselves. She wanted to give children a hands-on experience in shooting a film. Most children, she recollects, were fascinated by films. “But many of them were accustomed to watching Telugu films. It took me some time to move them away from the commercial thought process. Funnily enough, all of them wanted to act. Slowly they understood that filmmaking is tough and a lot of work goes on behind the scenes,” she explains.

The children were asked to draft a story with the theme ‘dream'. “Dreams that they have about their own lives or the dreams that they have at night… Ultimately, we worked on a story about four children who, during their journey, meet a young goddess,” says Noelie.

A one-month workshop helped the children learn about camera angles, developing characters, designing costumes, acting and writing. “Scriptwriter Assad Hussain helped them with writing and Ramesh coached them to act but not overact. By the end of the workshop, the children gained in confidence about filmmaking,” she says. Noelie was assisted in the project by city-based documentary filmmaker Preeya Nair. Her association with Preeya and her husband Murali Nair goes back a long way, she notes. Noelie worked as first assistant director and costume designer for Nair's feature film Virgin Goat.

Noelie works as an independent filmmaker in France. She prefers to work on socially relevant issues than enter mainstream cinema, she says. She studied at the Fine Arts School in Bordeaux and further honed her skills at the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune. During her previous visits to India, she shot two documentaries —Aao and Patrakar Ka Vichar.