At home, in the movies

Old godowns, rented flats and houses are being put to good use by budding filmmakers in Coimbatore who are setting up recording, editing and shooting studios in them.

Published - May 22, 2015 07:22 pm IST - COIMBATORE

Sound, lights and action all at home  Azure team at work Photos: S. Siva Saravanan

Sound, lights and action all at home Azure team at work Photos: S. Siva Saravanan

It is an unlikely place to hear the names of Scorsese, Spielberg and Herzog. But as you step into a paper godown, tucked away in Townhall, you walk into a heated discussion on cinema. The godown is where Goutham and his friends work on films. It used to be Goutham’s grandfather’s godown. Five years ago, when he was looking for a space to start a studio, he realised the rents were unaffordable. That was when it struck him that he could transform this old structure into a film studio which he calls Azure Studio. Today, you find models and light men milling around. Tripods, DSLRs, and white screens have replaced cartons and stacks of sheets that used to be stored here. The hall is bathed in a golden glow by ball lanterns hanging from the ceiling. It actually feels filmi.

“Now this is where we carry out all our shooting and post production. We eat, talk and work here and return to our homes only to sleep,” Goutham smiles.

He is not the only one doing this. Many others are working out of their homes and turning their personal spaces into film making centres. Arun Kanth’s three bed room flat in Ramanathapuram is a sound recording and mixing studio and hang out place for almost all the indie film makers in the city. That’s also because he is the only technician in Coimbatore to own a 5.1 surround sound system. His studio, called media works, also consists of a dubbing station and editing suite. The main reason why he thought of setting up a studio in his house was that he wanted to be his own boss. “An independent film maker has to be a good technician and not rely on anyone. Ï wanted to learn everything about cinema and, finally, make a film of my own.”

Arun quit his job with Apple in Bangalore when he realised cinema was his true calling. He learnt everything, from photography and sound mixing to editing and colour correction on his own.  “I owe all my knowledge to online tutorial sessions. I have also created a Facebook page called Film Maker’s Knowledge Centre where you can post about any latest information. There are over 1500 members in this group. I am also designing an app version of it.”

Arun’s house is an adda for film makers. Vijay Anand and Praveen have joined him today for a dubbing session.  “There is a wide network of short film makers in the city but no single platform to bind us. But then we all bump into each other when we have work,” says Vijay.

In Vadavalli, Dinesh’s house turns into mini film theatre at night. It is a watering hole for 10 to15 filmmakers and technicians to watch Hollywood classics and world cinema here. “We download foreign films from the internet. We watch them and talk about them over endless cups of chai ,” says Dinesh. Dinesh himself runs a production house called Thulir Media Entertainers, from his rented flat in Vadavalli. It pays his rent and hopefully will fund his movie, he says.

Dinesh is also experimenting with hand-made film equipment to cut down on the rental cost. His collection includes boom mikes with mop handles, dolleys made out of skate board wheels and Kino Flo Lighting systems made from tubelight chalks. It is made by his associate film maker Vivek Ilango. “This is much more cost effective. If we order the same boom mike online it will cost us thousands,” says Vivek.

They are independent film makers in truest sense; where the director is the boss of all departments including production. Dinesh says the main reason why he learnt editing was because he was tired of relying on professional editors to finish his work. M.D.Vargheese from Azure says they are well versed with all the techniques. “But when credits roll, our names appear under just one title. Actually, we end up taking turns and handling every department. Isn’t this a great learning experience?” he asks.

Short film making has caught on in the city. But, there are very few professional sound mixing or recording studios and preview theatres . “A few galleries, schools and marriage halls double up as film halls. But none of these has the right ambience for film viewing,” says Dinesh.    

Nevertheless, they unanimously feel that Coimbatore offers them a more transparent and creative ambience. The people,especially, are cooperative while shooting in public spaces. Says Goutham, “This city has a history of some amazing studios and so many cine artists in the Tamil film industry are from Coimbatore. Moreover, movie making is still not commercialized here. There is space for creativity. Our dream is to turn Coimbatore into a hub of film making where everything from shooting to post-production work can be carried out. We want it to be the next capital of Tamil cinema.”

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