All in just a minute
Filmmaker Sanjay Nambiar believes short films are the way of the future
MAKING IT SHORT Sanjay Nambiar: ‘For me film making is an extension of literature’
He trained in the art of film-making in Chicago at The Community Film Workshop. But that was not how Sanjay Nambiar started. He started off as a mathematician! He was so keen on this subject that he took off to Russia to study it further. To “take a break” during holidays he started to travel. His travel experiences “were so good” that he decided to become a writer. So he took up a job as a journalist with the India Tribune. Then it was still photography that caught his eye.
“I realised that the next logical step was to combine both these skills. So took to film-making. For me film making is an extension of literature. I met my teacher, Jim Taylor, while doing an interview with him. He taught me every aspect of film making — right from writing a story to loading a camera to editing, we had to do everything including directing,” recalls Sanjay.
During his 15-year stay in the US, he made his first documentary on Bharathanatyam called ‘Dance Celestial’ for which he also received a grant from Build Illinois Filmmakers Grant and The Illinois Arts Council Grant.
“Film making is demanding. I quit my job as a journalist to devote all my time during the day and worked as a taxi driver at nights to fund my film Yanam’. “The film is shot entirely on water and the protagonist is a boat, which talks and also sings. But not many could associate with the boat as the main character and the film was restricted to film festivals. Even distributors were hesitant to involve themselves for they only look to packed houses and not the story or the quality of films,” observes Sanjay.
That was when Sanjay realised that it is easy to make a film but tough to get distributors. “The film is shot entirely on water with a moving boat. Now I am going to make a film with a better idea of distribution. Film festivals don’t help. They cannot help bring money for your next film.”
Talking about the future of film he says: “No more will there be ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ on 70 mm. Short two or three minute films that can be seen on your mobiles will be the order of the day. What is the use of investing 45 lakhs and getting only 35 people to see it? It is better to make smaller budget short films and get more people to see it.” Sanjay calls this the new Indian cinema, which “is about finding a billion other stories that are not yet narrated.”
Sanjay does not want to get into the mainstream film making. “Why can we not tell a story about a sugar cane farmer who burnt himself with his crops? And you don’t need three hours to show his despair,” asks the man who started the FilmCamp.TV in Bangalore in 2007.
Art of film-making
Here he aims to teach people aged 12 years and above the art of film-making. He also conducts a one-day camp, where his participants get to write, edit, direct and make a two-minute film in a day. “They don’t become experts but are aware of the nuances of making a film. Film-making is a learning process. You learn something everyday,” says the man who also provides a grant for interested people to make short films in a day. “Sadly, only one person has used it so far.”
Talking about the impact of technology, Sanjay says: “it has simplified the art of film-making”. But he is disappointed that not many actors know to act for the camera. “Acting has to be subtle as the camera is very sensitive and needs no over acting. You can say a lot with just a smirk or smile. Our actors lack that.”
But how can you say a story effectively in a minute? “Look at the jingles. They are not only telling a story but also selling a product! If Anton Chekov can narrate a story in four pages then we can definitely make a film in two minutes.”
Sanjay Nambiar’s short films ‘Yanam,’ ‘Bindi’ and ‘Balkrishna’ can be viewed on www.filmcamp.tv and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHILPA SEBASTIAN R.
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