Working on tight budgets, borrowed soundtracks and making friends act (for free) in their self-scripted productions, collegians across the city are making short films.
Be it for class assignments or to enter into competitions or even just to stream it online, Mumbai now has a new breed of amateur short filmmakers being bred in classrooms. They are experimenting with a host of topics from drug abuse to the recent kidnappings in Kurla.
“Initially, the concept of making a film was completely alien to me and my group but the four of us managed to put together a movie capturing the different moods of passengers boarding the No. 93 BEST bus. It was our first film and though the process took longer than we imagined, it was a learning experience,” said 20-year-old Vishaka Zaveri, second year mass media student at National College, Bandra.
The budget of these films usually comprises money contributed by the members of the group, which covers all travel and food expenses (ranges from Rs 500 to Rs 1500 per person)
While Zaveri made the film as a part of her media class assignment, Kinjal Shah and her group made a fictional film based on the aftermath of drug overdose to enter the Highlight Reel Competition. “The one thing I learnt was that filmmaking is a group effort, you cannot do everything yourself. There have been times when I really wanted my idea to be used but ultimately it boiled down to using ideas that were best for the film,” said 19-year-old Shah, a first year BA student, Jai Hind College, Churchgate. Ultimately, this teamwork paid off when Shahs’ group beat 20 other college entries and made it to the final five in the competition.
But teachers are saying that sometime students get too involved in the technical aspect of the film. “Sometimes the content and theme is not given much attention because students are only focusing on the technical side of filmmaking. A good film is a combination of both,” said Seema Narendran, coordinator, Bachelors in Mass Media, Ruia College.
Although these students are making movies for the first time, they are not hesitating with experimenting with different genres and mediums. “We made an animated film on Buddha with a voiceover and special effects. Even though it took us 12 hours to make a 12 minute film, when the entire class applauded after watching it, we realised it was worth it,” said 19-year-old Dhwani Unadkat, a mass media student at Usha Pravin Gandhi College, Vile Parle. Unadkat made this first movie as part of her history class assignment.
Since most of their shootings take place on the crowded streets of Mumbai, students often run into problems even after detailed preparations during the pre-production stage.
“The biggest problem was handling the normal public in the frame. Since no one cares about a bunch of students making a movie, they continue to either stare directly into the camera or simply block it while going about their daily chores. This often led us to re-shoot many scenes which was exasperating,” said 20-year-old Nikita Periwar, a media student at Bhavans College, Andheri.
Periwar made a six-and-a-half minute film on the recent Kurla kidnappings, which was made from the accused paedophile’s point of view.
Cyber-space has proved to be an accessible platform. Most of these aspiring directors are putting up their work on sites such as YouTube and MySpace to get constructive criticism from people around the world. “Your friends are always going to like your work but by showcasing your film online, you expose your film to different classes of people who will review your celluloid vision with an unbiased view,” 18-year-old Suneet Jain, a junior college commerce student, Podar College, Matunga