Monday, 5 May 2014

Sunrise shot

When I was in London, as a director I used to imagine how the film starts and I decided to start it with a scene of sun rise. While I was wandering in the village in India, I saw a high cliff overlooking the village and have a panoramic view, so I asked the driver to take us to the cliff, he told me that it is full of Copra snakes . It was midday and I asked the driver to go there and risk!. We were very scared and the driver was in the front, he was holding a big stick to detect the land with, mounting was really hard among Copra snakes burrows, finally we reached at the top of the cliff. The view was fantastic; we defined the place and time of sun rise and agreed together in the early morning while darkness is still present so we prepared the headlights we brought from London.
The idea was crazy as there were no nearby hospitals but we decided to risk for the sake of a nice shot in which the camera man takes a nice shot with sounds of nature in the background. Before we recorded the sun rise scene, we had gone to Mumbai to hire two Canon lenses 16-35 for landscapes and 70-200 long lens as our university never provides this sort of lenses. We used the wide lens to take a shot of the whole village while the long lens to take the shot of sun rise.

 The journey to Mumbai to hire the lenses was hard and tiring, we spent the whole day for going there and coming back. Mumbai is a large crowded noisy city full of car fumes that hinder seeing a clear sky. When we returned the village, it was like paradise compared to Mumbai. The promised day came, all of us wore his boots to protect us from snakes bites, we provided ourselves with headlights, packed our sound and cameras equipment and sat off to the promised cliff. I can’t describe my feelings especially the darkness and sound of wooden bushes breaking under our feet thinking it rustles of snakes. We reached the top of the cliff and started to put out our things, and then we shot scenes of the village and cliff in peace.

   When we went back to London and played these scenes, I felt so happy and proud of them. I asked myself “will the audience notice what difficulties we passed through to get these shots?!”  


The film researcher who misled us!

We set off to Vangani village in a bumpy distant road, it seemed we were going to a remote village, but finally we reached the village. It was difficult to stay in Mumbai because it was far from the village Vangani, so we had to stay in a bad Motel in the village to save our time, wake up early in the morning, start search and meet the blind people .I told my colleagues to be patient to achieve our target efficiently. Of course, we were strangers for the villagers and we faced problems represented in people gathering around us and standing in front of the camera, this made our work difficult especially that I wanted and tried to keep the shots appears natural.

I asked Amole to come to our Motel alone to plan our production schedule, we decided to spend a day searching and meeting blind people in the village to choose the suitable person with who we will spend a whole day to recognize his life style then I make notes and study his personality. We decided to make the third day to shoot that person and the fourth day is assigned to select the places in the village where we shall take  random shots. Unfortunately, Amole upon whom we depended misled us and wasted our time. He used to accompany a blind man, at the very start of meeting us; Amole told us that this blind man knew all the blind in the village. This blind man has instigated him against us and made him exploit us and ask for money and wasted our time. Afterwards, we discovered that Amole does not live in the village and does not know any of the villagers and that he depended on that blind person. We met  the a doctor in the village who introduced us to the mayor who received us warm welcoming, they helped us meet the blind  people then found our character and do the job completely in only four days! I benefitted from this experience not to depend upon someone you do not know as this Amole is someone we know only from a short video and in a country we visited for the first time!

Pre-production Stage

After we got our tutors approval, we started to plan the budget and the team members required to travel to India. We agreed that three persons only can go to India: I as a director, production manager and sound technician, Omran as a producer, a film researcher and an interpreter and my colleague Marius as a cinematographer. We estimated the budget as 3000 sterling pound to cover the cost of vaccines for the three of us and getting the visas as well as tickets, accommodation and food for the period of our stay in India which is three weeks!, that is because I need enough time to choose an interesting and suitable person for our film. I also need to study this person before starting to shoot the film and decide what I want to shoot from this blind person as well as studying his place of living. We must first search for good shots to take for him and determine a complete list of these shots before starting.

  We tried to get support from companies or charities that help the blind but in vain so we thought to present our idea on “Kickstarter” web site and ask for support from all those who like our idea and its noble message to show the life of misery those people live. We made a short video in which we present the idea and objective of the film, we also explained where the costs are utilized, and hence we wrote the plan and its ideas completely. We start to publish this in our page on Facebook, twitter and whatsApp to get financial support from our people and friends. The idea was applauded from all. Actually, we could collect all the amount of fund needed at the exact time. We started to prepare for our travel, got the tickets, bout vaccines and other equipments. We got all what we want from the university loan store. Unfortunately, the university did not provide us with specific equipment like special lenses we use to shoot wide landscapes. I discussed this matter with my colleague the cinematographer who assured that the university does not usually provide such things. We decided to hire lenses from outside the university and on our account, not that the department manager offered to give us financial support to buy the lenses. The cost of the lenses was too high to buy so we decided to hire them from India, we searched for them on the internet and could find them and discovered that we would save a lot of money by hire them from India.

   The day of travel has come and we were enthusiastic and eager to start work. We had lots of questions like what may we face there? , how the experience will be? What is India like? We took the plane full of hope and enthusiasm!

Preparing for the idea of the final project 3

 Omran the producer and I started to surf the net about Indian charities supporting the blind and watch some reports and news on YouTube to find a blind petrified person. After a long time of hard work we found a small village about an hour drive far from Mumbai. The report we saw described the suffering the blind encounter because they have no bridge to pass them to the rail way station so many of them died and one blind woman lost her arm after the train hit her. At the end of the report, the reporter mentioned his name which was “Amol Lalzari”.

We started to search for him on the internet because he is knowledgeable about the blind in this area in addition to his volunteer work for blind charities. We contacted him on Facebook and sent him a message but no answer, so we sent an email to the YouTube channel owner who luckily gave us Amol’s phone number after telling him about our film. My colleague Omran phoned Amol as he can speaks Indian language and told him about our film and that we are students studying Television production. We offered him to be the film researcher in India. He was pleased with the idea and told us he was ready to do that. I and Omran started preparing to present the idea in summary including the objectives, the reason for presenting it, the shooting locations; age category targeted the targeted audience, the British channels that may present the film and the budget.

  The time of presenting the idea to our tutors in France came, the teachers’ opinions were frustrating, they said the idea is not such a new one and that traveling to Calais is dangerous as there are lots of gangs who may harm us. After that we started to suggest the idea of the blind and the travel to India but unluckily our presentation to our idea was not suitable, in addition we had no answers to the tutor’s questions. They said we need to study the project again and asked us to give more details about the film and they suggested that only two of us can travel to reduce cost. We went out of the meeting feeling disappointed after hard work in two ideas. Anyway, we went back to the idea of the blind in India starting to write more details, we prepared PowerPoint presentations to communicate the idea to our teachers well. After a week, we presented the idea again to our tutors, but this time our tutors were happy, they approved and accepted to launch our project, we got the green light!

Preparing for the idea of the final project 2

After the approval of all team members to work on the idea of ​​the film “Calais” in France, we decided to start preparing for the idea which was studied from all respects including how to find someone there to agree to shot the movie , the requirements of travel , how many days we need to shot the film in addition to the budget of the project , the feasibility study and  the equipment we need.

On the opposite side, we thought to keep this project aside and to search for an alternative plan because this idea may not be approved by our tutors, and we can’t initiate any action until we take their full approval and get the green light by viewing the idea and working on it with them.

There was an open meeting to students and groups who wish to work on a documentary film with tutors Tom and Paul. Ideas were being put forward to be discussed by both teachers and students. This meeting was just for guidance before putting the idea forward. There students works can be either accepted or refused. My colleagues and I suggested presenting a documentary film in India, the film is about the nature of life of a blind man. The origin of the idea was to make a comparison between this blind man of India and that of the last film in London. When we were shooting the film with Hasmok in London (who is originally from Indian), he said “if I live in India I wouldn’t be survive”. This quote encouraged us to make another film in India. The film will compare the differences between two Indians in two different countries. Our teachers, Paul and Tom approved the idea and encouraged us to make it. They suggested shooting the film with Hasmok by taking him this time to his homeland country and show the nature of his life there.

We started planning to the project, we found that it would be difficult to accompany the blind man to India as he needs someone to take care of him and this may lead us to busy ourselves by him not concentrating on the film. We decided to search for someone blind in India to shoot the film with, so that this film will be independent from the last one but with similar style. We decided to define each of us roles and start work. Because the study requires everyone to have two main roles whether in one or more projects , I chose to be the film director and the production manager at a time as it was my view to concentrate in these two roles only rather than working in other roles not doing them properly. “To my mind quality is better than quantity”. We aimed to make the audience approve the film whatever its demerits, we will feel tiresome of course but the film has a message to transfer to the audience: it tries to tell the Indian governments about the sufferings those people face, those people might be supported by the government or by any other sort of businessmen or women, donors or charities when the is displayed. My target is to produce a high quality film, the dream is to submit the completed film to short documentary films festivals around the world!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Preparing for the idea of ​​the final project 1

       After I and my previous team finished the production and display of our short film (a life in a day of Hasmok Mehta) , we started preparing for our project for the final year at the university. Because our short film was applauded by everyone and got very good echoes from both our teachers, colleagues and friends outside the university, we felt great responsibility so we determined to find ​​a distinct idea for our end project which was only ten minutes long. Its quality must not be less than that of our former one either in technical, artistic aspects, or the narration and the sequence of events listed visually, that is because everyone expects a lot from us. I want to produce a good film that has a great sentimental value, respects the viewers’ taste and it must have a useful meaning and a strong message.

I and Omran the producer of the previous work discussed together trying to keep the same team and continue in our final year project but unfortunately, Liucija the program researcher of our last film withdrew from the team and so did Ingrida the production manager as the two decided to make a drama as their own project. Our team now includes me, Omran, Marius the Cinematographer and the editor and Natarin the sound and light technician. We started to meet every day, where we must prepare our project idea in a professional manner which includes all aspects of production from pre-production to post-production, we must be clear in what we want to achieve and communicate to the viewer.

  I’m very interested in documentaries in general and eager with documenting biographies and histories as well as travel programs which explore peoples’ culture and history .As we are in Britain , I suggested making a documentary film because Britain is rich with important biographies and histories , but the team refused the idea so I suggested making a documentary film about wildlife and to track a specific species of animals in Britain as it is a new trend and will give us the chance to explore and experience this sort of documentation . My team said that this genre is difficult to achieve as it needs experts, a lot of time and effort as well as equipment that are not available in the university.

 After long discussions and brainstorming, my colleague Omran suggested that we make a documentary film tracking someone’s life at Calais region in France .My friend Omran once had a friend who experienced passing through Britain from Calais outlet. The film shows the difficulties encountering the French and British authorities to control this problem. It also portraits the problems facing the people escaping illegally from France to Britain as some of those people go through twenty countries’ borders to arrive at Calais outlet. The idea was to track someone’s life for a day there. He would tell us his story, how he got to Calais, what his goals are and why?.  Using a long lens, if possible we can take a photo of him while crossing the borders at the end of the film. Most of those fugitives hide in trucks and pay drivers to let them hide and help them. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Roadmap of short documentary "Part 2"

“A life in the day of a blind”, was the idea to be implemented. We have started with storyboard and outline all the requirements needed to choreograph this film. There were five primary elements to be accomplished for choreography of this film.

Finding Characters – Indeed it was hard to find a person in society who is blind and agree to be filmed and providing all the information. Our researcher Liucija searched for a blind as she contacted plenty of blind centres, at last she found one. We have also taken permission from Blend Centre RNIB about composing a short film on a blind.
RNIB logo

Equipment – The list of equipment had been made according to the film.

Interview of personality (Blind) – I did interview of the blind person, and asked him following questions before the shooting day to get in deep of his personality and know his daily routin to think about the vision of the film and plan it in a creative way: 

·      How he become blind?
Group meeting with Hasmok ( the blind )  
·      How he spent his day?
·      How he does his stuff?
·      How he reacts with people?
·      What kind of people around him?
·      What he knows about the current life?

Vision – before capture the film, I have watched couple films related to “Blind” Such as:

·      Blindness (2008)
Film cover "Julian Moore"

·      Scent of women (1992)
"Al pacino"  in one of the film scenes
Every moment counts - Cancer Research UK 

Therefore, I have seen these movies before and watched them again to get ideas about Blinds and how can I improve the direction of the film. This gave me opportunity to tackle with disputes related to productions and direction. Although I watched a short advert on youtube which is belong to the Cancer research UK and has inspired me:                                                                                                  

Locations – it is also important to notify the film location properly. We did survey before capturing the movie and analyzed that how location can be fit in camera. Moreover, a meeting with cameraman and director arranged to discuss all tits and bits such as:
Shooting Hasmok (The blind) while walk on the street

   ·      Where he does shave?
   ·      Where he made coffee?
   ·      Where he goes for walk?
   ·      Where he meets with people?
   ·      Where does he spend his free time?  

Shooting the full interview of Hasmok
Narrative – a series of narrative had been recorded. The reasons to record narrative so that it helps to choose particular parts to fit in the film, which will make more realistic in nature. Therefore, open questions asked from blind person, so that he can tell his opinions in detail. Moreover, It also give opportunity to me to choose particular parts of narrative which are relevant to current scenario.

Shooting Film

After creating narrative, we had fixed the date for film shooting. A meeting was arranged with me and cameraman Marius and Natarine the sound person to discuss about the style, length of frame, and sound.
Cameraman captured the whole film as it was discussed and he covers the close ups, covering his belongings, and reality shoots of his daily life.

Shooting Hasmok in his flat while reading

Next day, we went to blind centre where he met with his friend and some blinds that they have issues to share. In order to shoot inside the blind centre we asked for permission from administration. We shoot inside the centre while he was meeting his friends and communicating with them regarding current issues. We have also capture his emotional scenes when he was discussing the matter related to “road cross” with his friend, such as the difficulties he tolerate to cross the road.
Shooting in the RNIB

Analysis and correlation

The complete film had been captured successfully with certain consecration and specification. We arranged the meeting to discuss about narratives and film. Therefore, we analyse the film with respect to narratives. We sliced the film into short scenes and correlate with narrative. Indeed, it was most sensitive part of film because it needs to choose right scene, which also portray the narrative. In correlation of audio and video, it is important to see the video again and again to check that video are related to audio and makes all the parts of the audio connected together.
Editing with Marius and Natarine

The completed film:-