There is an audience ready for content like Chaar Cutting
Taking short films to a theatrical audience is this year’s Chaar Cutting, released on the 29th of May. A combination of four, very interesting short films by ambitious filmmakers, the movie, presented by Jamuura and Celebstall, can be seen at select multiplexes in the city, which is a huge advancement for the short film scene in the country.
Anuj Gulati’s Manila Running is a tale of chaos set in Philippines. Employing an almost non-Indian cast, the movie strikes a chord with anyone who may have felt confused and stranded in an obscure location.
What has been your background with the process of filmmaking?
I got a camera in hand for the first time when I was 18, but I didn’t know how to pursue film as a career until I entered into filmmaking. I completed Masters in Film program at the NYU Tisch School of Arts Asia. Apart from producing, directing, editing and even sound designing our films, we also crewed for, shot and edited each other’s films. It was a very hands on experience, and taught us pretty much all the aspects that come together to make a film, leaving us free to choose what to take up.
Could you tell us what Manila Running is all about?
Manila Running is about the chaotic experience of an outsider in the busy city of Manila. It started as my take on the illusion of security – that the harder we look for it, the further we drift away. It was always meant to be a comedy.
It’s a movie entirely with international cast and filmed in Philippines. How challenging was the experience?
All the cast is from Manila, including Olivier, who plays Jacques. He has been living there for close to two decades now. It was a challenge to make the film, firstly because none of us on the crew were from Manila, and we were solving the problems as they came. It was a student film, made during my second year at school. So the budget was low and we ended up stealing a lot of shots when shooting outside. It was shot on a Canon 7D with minimal lighting, so that helped a lot – we were about 8 people running around with a small camera and minimal lighting, which made us very flexible. If a location didn’t work out, we got back in our van and drove to another place, till we got what we needed.
Is the movie self funded? If not, how did you go about procuring the funding for the movie?
Some of my closest friends invested in the film, and I know they were not expecting anything back. I was however able to give back the money after the film won an award, which was great.
The movie has toured a number of film festivals around the world. How has the reception been like?
The reception has been great. I wish I could have been there for all the festivals it played at. One of the best times I had with the film was at Clermont-Ferrand in 2012. They screen the selected films 7 times during the week across the city, so at the end of it pretty much everyone who is attending the festival will have watched your film. And I always felt that Manila Running is a theatre kind of movie, there needs to be an audience for the laughs to catch on. It doesn’t come across the same way when watching on a laptop.
Your film is 15 minutes long. How do you see a short film thrive commercially and artistically as compared to a feature length movie?
A short film for me, is a tool to stay in the groove as a writer and director, to be working with actors and being on set, watching the film come together in the edit, and walking away from it saying, I could have done this better. Then, you try again, until you’re confident of taking on the longer format. The fact that Chaar Cutting happened is an added bonus, and I hope it has a good commercial run. But the reasons to do a short film are different; they are more of a calling card for filmmakers ready to do a feature.
Is the combination of four short films as a single unit a smart way to get short films theatrical access? How do you see the potential of projects like Chaar Cutting in a country like India?
Definitely. As long as the content is good, the package should work. But theatrical success here depends on a lot more things, including the slot the film gets, marketing etc. There is an audience ready for content like Chaar Cutting and it will be exciting to see how they respond to the film.
Do you see yourself directing a feature length movie at some point soon?
I hope so. The first step is to have the material for it. As a first time director, I don’t think you will be given a script to direct right away, it’s important to have your own ready. I am working on something now; hopefully I can generate some interest in it after its complete. But yes, a feature film is the next target.
What are the other short films young filmmakers and audience should definitely hit up?
There’s so many out there. Viki.com has a good collection.