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Makin? movies with zero rupees

He?s amiable, mild-mannered and could pass you by on the street. That?s if you don?t grab him by the arm and gush at his innovative project?ZERO BUDGET FILM-MAKING. Yup, you heard it right!

india Updated: Mar 17, 2006 00:04 IST

He’s amiable, mild-mannered and could pass you by on the street. That’s if you don’t grab him by the arm and gush at his innovative project—ZERO BUDGET FILM-MAKING. Yup, you heard it right!

“This project is different from low-budget filmmaking. We’re presently creating a multi-story/director, zero-budget digital film, made possible because everyone involved is contributing their intellectual and material resources. Legal documents have been prepared, and all profits will be shared according to pre-determined percentages,” says Dalton L-Creative Producer.

Wait a sec, Dalton, who?

“Oh! A maverick… filmmaker… writer… and educationist. A creative thinker… who likes to sit down, alone, at the end of the day and reflect on the infinite beauty and truth of the Universe...” he tells you matter-of-factly, adding, “I love helping people… as much as I can. My favorite hobbies are… meeting up with intelligent /talented people (all genres); smiling with life; learning; thinking; and inventing untaken paths”.

For Dalton, every moment is “the centre of time”. And, the central theme of his multi-layered film is ‘How the lives and relationships of people are affected by a series of bomb blasts that shatters a metropolis’. Presently, the film has no title. But already the team is being praised in Bollywood circles. The viewer can expect a sensitive film with a fair share of black humour.

But before you think about all the ‘degrees’ Dalton is armed with, sample this: “Personally, I completely disagree with the present education system in India. In fact, I simply cannot recall a single teacher either in school of college who has “taught” me anything. I'm a self-educated person”.

So, as Dalton believes, “One cannot learn a profession. It has to come from within oneself”. And, that’s how film-making happened. Along with it is music.

“I've always loved music. There used to be a time when I used to compose a new tune (with a minimum of two lines of verse) almost every day. Sadly or happily, I've never written down/ recorded a majority of them, so they're all lost in time.”

“As for films… well, I've always had this habit of thinking in visuals; hence, the natural attraction towards filmmaking, I guess. Honestly, I find it difficult to watch a film in the traditional manner; instead, I find myself forever viewing them from the camera's perspective”.

Back to the zero-budget perspective. “This project is different from low-budget filmmaking, in that, in the latter, generally, there’s a financer who initially pays the writer, director, actors, technicians, et al. a small amount, in addition to the promised percentage in case of profits,” Dalton explains.

The project was officially initiated on March 13, 2005, when a group of film buffs and filmmakers spearheaded by Dalton, met to discuss the possibility. At that primary meeting, when everyone put down their names and respective professions, it was noticed that there was an abundance of writers and directors.

Thus, it was unanimously agreed that this would be a multi-writer/director film running on a binding theme.

By the third week, the theme had been unanimously voted in. The subsequent weeks witnessed brainstorming sessions for concepts and stories. Finally, ten of the most popular stories were voted for the scripting stage in Mumbai.

Ten directors were chosen by Dalton. The first to roll camera was S. Manasvi (Editor-Director), a FTII graduate as well as qualified architect. The Story/Screenplay was written by Chhaya Koshy, a lawyer by profession.

Shooting took place utilising only one assistant, Kaushal (AD), a young, Gujarati theatre actor and amateur photographer, who has also made some short digital films.

The camera used for the shoot is the Panasonic AG-DVX100A, owned by Dalton. (Incidentally, veteran DOP Nancy Schreiber won the Sundance Film Festival ‘Excellence in Cinematography Award’ in 2004 for a film shot with the prototype camera, AG-DVX100.)

Since a professional film tripod was not available, shooting, in Mumbai, was done with a handheld camera in all shots excepting one, a static shot; for this, it was mounted on a very basic, still-camera tripod. Also, in the absence of access to artificial lights, natural light was bounced using a thermocol board glued with silver foil. Washing away the sins of summer, the monsoon chose to start on the very first day of shoot, taking the crew by surprise, and holding up the shoot for over an hour.

For one of the shots, by the corridor, the AD held up a 100-watt bulb. Colour correction would need to be done in the final post-production but the first part is now completed.

Meanwhile, we’re all waiting for the film to be completed.

First Published: Mar 17, 2006 00:04 IST