Reel World: My little film is showing somewhere!

As it turns out, this year is nearly at its speedy end. It’s later in October and we only have two months left to accomplish anything we set out to do this year. Where’s the time rewinding clock? If only Back to the Future was possible! Seems to be the week for it. At least that’s the buzz this week.
There is however another little buzz in my life, the buzz of a short film I was involved in the making of finally hitting the silver screen across various Australian cities starting today.

I’m nervous and curious, and excited and terrified all at the same time. What’s worse is that due to festivals and other commitments I am not there in the city of Perth observing the audience as they react to the film. As a writer-director, this tends to be the most nerve-wrecking moment. Not the countless hours preparing to shoot, nor the countless hours spent shooting it and cut it etc. No. It’s this, waiting for feedback.

Can I fast forward a couple of hours to hear how the screening went? Haha. That would be something, wouldn’t it?

Here’s the teaser for the film in case you would like to check it: Dhago (Nepali short film)

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I’ll report back to you tomorrow and let you know what the word is on the streets. Wish I could have been there, but alas, it’s still an exciting time!

Art + Film news: ‘The Usual Hunt’ a 3 min comedy and more!

Hiya,

‘Art for Charity’ venture went really well. The exhibition was on Sunday, and two wonderful people bought my art in support of Oxfam. Hooray for that, because as an artist/writer I’m obviously not in a position to donate that amount out of pocket.

These are the two pieces that sold:


And now, onto the next project I’ve secretly worked on the last month and a half. My first short comedy!

I made ‘The Usual Hunt‘ for the My RODE Reel competition which offers film gear for  winners. And won’t lie, I really want to win, at least the Public Choice category. So here is the link for you to watch the film on YouTube, and the voting gets activated for you within the next 24 hours.
Please watch the film. It’s only 3 min long, and it’s fun. I would really appreciate it if you guys could vote for it?

And tell me what you thought if the film! 🙂
Incase the link above doesn’t work, here is the URL:
http://youtu.be/1qfg5k4RV90

Reel World: The journey of ‘Dhago’ a short Film shot in incredible Nepal

Time to get back into the writing as they say, and what better way to start than by covering my recent foray into filmmaking, that to in a country on the other side of the equator to me at the moment.

Recently, (as recently as November last year), I happened to be lucky enough to travel to Darwin, Australia for the first time ever. It was so that I could attend a screening of another script I had written for a wonderful team up there who were wanting to turn it into a movie. So it happened, the script was a movie now, and I was invited to join the rest of the cast and crew at a screening up there. Fantastic experience, being able to see how the movie turned out and how audience reacted to it.

But it seems I wasn’t done with yet, and prior to leaving, I pitched another story, this time of supernatural theme, to one wonderful lady, whom I’m great friends with now, and she loved the story enough to want to produce it. So after coming home from the 3 day trip in November, I wrote the script, ‘Under the Emu Sky’, sent it off and found that it was immensely loved.

The only thing was, it had to be shot in Nepal. Luck was with us though as the producing pair were already booked to visit family back home, and I was the only one who had to join them. So we did. We went.

What crazy 3 weeks! From the very next day of landing, we set up camp in the lounge room of a Production company there and started out planning: from finalizing script and dialogue, to giving orders for tailor made costumes, from locking down cast members, to securing equipment and crew members to help us during shoot.

This was my first time making a film in Nepal so can I just say I was both excited and terrified at the possibility of things either going really well, or incredibly wrong. Alas, we even hired a ‘shooting bus’, and yes, they have those, and these buses actually drive around with a plaque that says they are a ‘shooting bus’.

I was lucky, because we had to travel outside of the capital Kathmandu, towards a national wildlife park in Citwan. A place I had never gone to. So I was both sightseeing as well as working! 🙂

During shooting days, we would get up by 5am and drop back onto bed after midnight. We would take cold showers in the mornings and not because we wanted to wake ourselves up violently, but because the hotel was Eco-friendly, and would not serve hot water in its plumbing till the Sun rose high in the sky and it’s solar panels sunbathed.

Incredible so, I was also co-directing with a wonderful director who was a cornerstone in making ‘Dhago‘ happen. Without his joining the team, I dare say the film mightn’t have been. His knowledge of the place and the crew was an immense asset. It gave me an opportunity to learn a lot and observe a lot.

In the three weeks I was there, we only had 3 days off to do what we needed other than our film work. You’d be surprised what one can fit into 3 days when required. I was able to visit temples, families members, a get together with cousins, go shopping, movies, and even take selfies in between all this fuss. In fact, we took some great selfies!

So what was the highlight of my trip? Wait for it. You will see me in the film when it comes out! 🙂 yes, astounding enough, I gladly took the role I was recommended for, and throughout the weeks and days leading up to it, was incredibly nervous! Lol.

It was an experience of a lifetime. The thing about films, is that each one is different, and therefore working on them gives different experiences and memories. I travelled back home with a lot of fun memories, and in a lot ways ‘Dhago’ is a very special film for me.

During shoot, there was a lot of laughter, rushing, panicking, quietly screaming, pushing jeeps that wouldn’t start, working under scorching sun, hungry and thirsty on one specific day, generators that betrayed, or talent that forgot to show up, or a snake floating in the river where I had to step into, albeit not on the same day, and it was a dead snake we happened to chase so we could get an incredible shot, only to realize later that it was dead. From waking up so early in winter, to spending three nights in costumes and SFX makeup with no jacket (’cause I was tough like that), from incredible smoke effect that required 3 men to puff their cheeks out, to running after the actually ‘Dhago’ (thread) that was being carried away by the river. Or hurrying a handful of team members into a misty forest to capture eerie shots that look million-dollar on screen, or having to jump onto the back of a moving jeep in order to get the shot to work. These and many more are incredible memories, something’s I will always remember fondly.

Was it the same shooting a film in Nepal as it is here in Australia? Definitely not. But was it fun? Hell yes! Both different in there own rights, both same in their own rights. What made it different was the place and the people you get to work with. Truth be told, I’d love to do it again, but let’s see what life has in store first.

‘Dhago’ is a story about a tour guide grieving his wife’s dead, and the cultural influences that guide him. The whole movie was shot in Saurah, Nepal except one scene in Kathmandu. The film will most likely be 20minutes when finished, and is currently undergoing post-production work. I’ve seen the first cut, and can I just say, it makes me super proud of the team, the entire team who helped me take this ‘idea’ I had, and for their trust in me throughout this. It literally would have stayed an ‘idea’ and one day forgotten if it weren’t for Silpi Dhungana who became the film’s Executive Producer, for giving me a chance to tell her a story; for Nitesh Raj Pant, her partner and the film’s main lead, for listening to her and my pitch of the story; for Sakar Pant, my co-director for agreeing to come on board with us and help steer the ship in Nepal with utmost efficiency and dedication; for Ravi Sayami, who joined us as Director of Photography, for listening to the vision Sakar and I shared for the film, and willing not to compromise; for my cousin, Garima Sharma for agreeing to give me company on the trip, who eventually helped the production out; for the rest of the cast and crew who worked tirelessly for insane number of hours, and for their patience; and to Binay Kansakar, our editor, who is now spending hours joining our footage and helping us with this second-last phase of filmmaking. A massive thank you, and great virtual hugs!!!

‘Dhago’ might have been my story, but it certainly isn’t just my film! And I simply can’t wait to see how audience react to it, and the comments that may come our way when the film is ready for the screen. So join us on the film’s Facebook page where there will be updates on our progress.

http://www.facebook.com/DhagoTheMovie

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Reel World: New Film ‘Dhago’

I know I’ve disappeared for few weeks but I’m back again, and with exciting news! I’ve been away in Nepal shooting another short film I wrote. Long story short, I’ve just come back from hectic few weeks and suddenly find myself suffering whiplash from work. So, with this post, I’m resuming my writing for something to do as well as make progress on projects that were set aside.

‘Dhago’ is a shortfilm based on superstitions in Nepali culture, and has been shot in the country itself. ‘Dhago’ when translated, means ‘thread’ and the film works with various type of ‘threads’ that bind humans in life.

Go here to follow progress, view great behind-the-scene snaps and catch regular updates: http://www.facebook.com/DhagoTheMovie

And click on the following to see the first teaser released almost immediately after production wrapped up: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Kku4vjuHQUg&feature=youtu.be

I welcome any feedbacks on the teaser. I’m nervously anticipating how this film will be taken as it’s my first ever Nepali story.

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Reel World: SFX Brusies & Wounds

DSCN1959 A wound caused by falling on gravel.

bruise A nasty hit on the side of the head.

Suffice to say, I’ve had a very interesting week leading up to this post. I mean, that’s my hand and my face there!

OMG! Is that what you’re thinking?! NO, no, no need to be alarmed. I wasn’t mugged or bashed, nor was I in an accident or took a fall on any gravel.

These are photos to show some SFX makeup works that can be done with very few things on hand. In fact, right now, I’m in last phase of pre-production for my short film, The Circle, and I’ve been making some of these videos on how-to.

If you are curious how I did these effects, check out the video on YouTube. (Please beware: the images may be too graphic for some).

And if you’d like to pledge your support to help me make this film as best I can without compromising on the look of it, please go to my Pozible site and donate as little as AUS$5.

The target amount I need to raise is $2500. At the moment, we are sitting on $1120 with 32 days to go. Fingers crossed I can raise this amount and bring you all a very entertaining and suspense film. 🙂

Thank you once again! Have a great week ahead, and I can’t wait to bring you some snippets of our shoot this coming weekend. Stay tuned and follow us on our facebook, or pledge to our campaign.

Reel World: How to make fake blood

This is a little video I made today just because I could, and because it’s something new I tried.

If you have ever wanted to make fake blood for dress ups or Halloween, or if you’re a filmmaker like me on a shoe-string budget, you might like this. 🙂

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=tyYMUdm-Big

Let’s try reviewing, shall I?

God help you, I’m doing my first film review!

As most of you know, I’ve only recently gotten back from a three week holiday to Nepal. In those three weeks I spend more than a week and a half traveling to and from India; first time ever for me. India trip has nothing to do with this review other than the fact that the movie I’m reviewing was Indian.

I’ve grown up watching Indian cinema. I’ve seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ones they should have burned while still in the can, or hit delete. In fact, I’ve seen some shocking ones that should have never ever been made.

The movie I’m reviewing today is perhaps a very recent addition to giant shelf of Bollywood movies: Krissh 3. Funny thing is, it’s a third movie in the sequel (and I hope I’m spelling these correctly): Koi mil gaya, Krissh, and now Krissh 3. First of all, where did Krissh 2 go??? Abducted by some unseen, unknown alien? Or simply forgotten? Bizzare! Obviously, the Sci-fi world of Indian cinema is far more sophisticated and layered than that of Hollywood; a whole movie went missing and no ones that much wiser.

Where did I see Krissh 3? In a cinema complex in Nepal, 2 minutes walk from my cousin’s place. Holy moly, that was impressive. Try and find a cinema that close to my house in Sydney and you would fail! You’d have to drive, but there, they had at least two cinema complex within walking distance.

Now, Krissh 3 wasn’t a bad movie, it couldn’t be, because the main actor in it is one of Bollywood’s finest, so in regards to the acting calibre of the cast it was quite good. The SFX of the movie, and there were plenty of it, wasn’t half as bad either. In fact, they were done well except some bits where the job was obviously rushed as the release date loomed closer.

I rate this movie about 3 out of 5. I’m being generous because I loved the cast. As for the story itself? I truly can’t give any due credit to the writer(s) that penned it. Why? Well, let’s see. Krissh 3 made me feel like I was having constant déjà vu from start to finish. It resembled most strongly of X-men, movies I happen to love. The main villain, Kaal (a.k.a death), such a clichéd and unimaginative name, resembled Professor Xavier, except imagine he had a Jackyl and Hyde thing going on. Kaal also seemed to have Magneto’s powers, and his sidekick, Maya (a.k.a illusion) strongly smelled of Mystique.

Apparently the writers of X-men may have indirectly influenced the entirety of this newest installment in the Krissh series. Other bits of the movie seemed to copy and paste ideas and running themes from Hollywood infectious disease movies such as Outbreak, Contagion and the likes.

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the whole story. It lacked originality to a certain degree, and the true essence of a good movie always lies in the story, the casting and location coming in second to that. All I can say is that Krissh 3 seemed to rely on the popularity of its main cast and the new found joy in heavy SFX.

Though it was a joy to watch, because I was almost playing ‘guess which movie this bit’s from’, I do have to be honest and say it wasn’t one of Bollywood’s best.

Either way, whether you like Sci-fi, action, singing and dancing, or play guessing game, you may enjoy it.

Letters to My Sister-in-Law

This piece has a very unusual story behind it. During my Uni days, and film studies, I came across this one tutorial in my second year where the tutor asked up to pick a piece of paper out of the hat. Each paper held two words, and we were to take these two words and come up with a movie idea/screenplay pitch, fully decked out with what the beginning scene, climax scene and the ending all planned out – in half hour. I got ‘Germany’, and ‘Fascism’. Imagine my luck! What was I to come up with?
Anyway, I managed to wrangle a story that was heart-wrenching and by the time my 5-min pitch was up, everyone applauded and the tutor told me I should actually think about turning into a screenwriter if I can come up with compelling stories in half hour. I’d like to let her know today that it is something I am pursuing.
But below is the start of the story – which at one point I was seriously turning into a book, but now I think a screenplay would be more dramatic.
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Letters to My Sister-in-Law
1939 Nuremberg, Germany

An icy blistering morning dawned.  A young man of mere seventeen woke up to the warm, heavenly smell of freshly made pancakes and the mouth-watering aroma of sizzled bacon.
On any other day, Adrian Schneider would have remained tucked away in his warm bed than leave it this ridiculously early in the morning.  Mostly because he knew that his dear old mother would keep aside his share of breakfast to serve him when he’d come running to her with a grumbling stomach. But, today was such a day he couldn’t possibly contemplate remaining in bed any longer.  He’d have to drag himself out of bed, slip his warm feet into the cold folds of his slippers, and walk the chilly corridors, down a flight of stairs to join his family in the kitchen for breakfast.
So, since it was no ordinary day, Adrian shot up on his bed and flung the covers away from his body with such force that they slipped off the edge of the bed and landed on the thin-carpeted floor with a soft thud.  Praying under his breath that he hadn’t yet missed his brother, he bolted out of his room, slamming against the opposite wall of the corridor.  Not deterred in the least, he tore down the stairs as fast as his unsteady legs could carry him.
‘John – John’ he called out taking two steps at a time.  Completely missing the last landing, he dropped violently at the foot of the stairs.  Shakily he rose up and began his run again.
‘Mum’ he shouted into the dim corridors, his eyes fixed on the pool of light coming from the open kitchen door.  ‘Has he gone yet?’ Have I missed him?’  He cried out as he ran at the door and came to a jolting halt just inside the warm holds of the room.  The door, which he had so mercilessly flung open swung and slammed angrily against his back.
‘So you’re still here?’ he asked quietly staring into the young face of his older brother (only by eighteen months), who, seated at the small table in between the only two women in his life looked rather out of place.  The tiny, cosy kitchen paled with comparison to his proudly worn and distinctly outstanding uniform.  The dim light from the light bulb cast soft shadows on his sculpted face.
‘Yes’ his brother answered intently looking up from his steaming plate of food.
Adrian nodded, looked at his mother on the right of his brother, crying silently.  Then he looked at the young woman on his brother’s left.  Her moistened, crimson veined eyes stared at him a short while before the woman rose from her seat.
‘I’ll get some tea for you Adrian – have a seat’.  She smiled weakly and walked towards the cupboards.  Getting a chipped cup out with her unsteady hands she returned to her seat.  Pulling the teapot close to her, she began pouring the hot, amber liquid.  Once filled to the rim, she gently pushed the cup towards Adrian who was slightly shivering, standing afar in his thin pyjamas.
Sighing heavily she hid her face in her hands and Adrian could see her shoulders tremble as she fought hard not to cry.
Jonathan stared at his shivering brother standing by the door and let clatter his cutlery onto the plate to get his attention.  ‘Just sit down Adrian and drink the tea Sophie poured’.
His brother’s voice suggested an order, not a request and Adrian found himself doing as he was told.  He wasn’t quite sure why he was obeying orders when he was so angry.  Maybe it’s the stupid uniform, he thought miserably.  Grabbing the cup hastily with his shaking hands, he took a sip.  The amber liquid swirled in its container and he thought he was observing a slumbering eye of a storm.  Shaking his head to get rid of the negative thought, he took another sip and couldn’t help smell fear rushing out in waves, riding the ghostly shape of his winter breath.
His curious eyes rested on the freshly ironed shirt his brother wore, travelling up to the stiff collar.  He loathed the khaki colour of it – like wet cement, it would trap his brother in an unbreakable bond with time.  Soaking with the spilt blood of innocents, Adrian couldn’t help but think.
‘So you’re going ahead with this?’ he asked after gulping down the last of the tea.
‘You know the answer already’ Jonathan said sternly.  ‘I didn’t join the army simply to pull out at the first sign of trouble, little brother.’
‘So you’re okay about leaving us?  What about Mother?’ His voiced feebly escaped him at first.  ‘What of Sophie?  What is she supposed to do?’  But word by word, his voice rose as his temper flared.  There seemed to be red hot lava of anger, not words, pouring out of him.
Frustrated, he looked to his mother for support.  Stop acting helpless, woman, he thought angrily.  Glaring at her a moment, he rather rudely asked, ‘Aren’t you going to say anything?’
‘Don’t you yell at her’ Jonathan hissed.  ‘Don’t you raise your voice to our Mother’
The vein in Adrian’s neck bubbled; his skin crawled with goose bumps of confusion and irritation.  This is suicidal! Absolutely suicidal, he screamed at his brother in his head.  Clutching his fists and clenching his teeth, he fought with every pore in his body to keep from yelling and screaming out loud.  His chest heaved like a sea-saw from the effort.
‘Adrian, please -’ Sophie’s weak voice escaped her twisted face.  ‘Don’t make it any more an ugly departure than it has to be – I don’t have that much strength in me’.  Her eyes skimmed over his taut face, pleading.  ‘He’s already made his decision.’
Wave after wave of shock crashed into his shores, and Adrian reeled for a moment.  ‘You’re saying this, Sophie?  You of all people should know –’
‘Yes Adrian, I do know’ Sophie cut in shortly, ‘-but the country is at war, and it is the duty of young men –’
‘Bullshit’ Adrian stared at his sister-in-law with nothing but pity in his eyes.  Despite his brother’s warning look, he didn’t apologise.  ‘You’re only saying that because he’s standing there’ he said jerking his head in Jonathan’s direction.
‘There’s no glory in fighting a war where innocent blood gets spilt, no glory – only death and destruction.’  He said all this without removing his eyes from Sophie.  ‘You may not be brave enough to tell your husband that, but I am–’
‘That’s enough, Ad’ for the first time that morning Adrian’s mother addressed him.  Her voice was neither kind nor angry, and neither were her eyes any different and he figured she was no longer going to humour him by keeping mum.  ‘It is your brother’s decision, be it joining the scouts, or the infantry.’  She rose up from her seat and winched as she stood up and walked around the table.  It was only yesterday that she had badly sprained her left ankle.
‘It was his decision and not yours’ she kindly said laying a hand on his arm and giving it a gentle squeeze.  For a moment, her eyes glistened with tears.  ‘Now, be civil and bid your brother a fitting farewell and wishes for a safe return.’
‘But, Mother-’
‘No Adrian.’ She shook her greying head.  Streaks of sliver strands draped the side of her handsome face.  He thought the few wrinkles and imperfection suited her very much.  Lines say a lot about a person’s history, he heard his father’s voice speak in his head.  His throat began to knot and his stomach squirmed uneasily.  How was he to say goodbye?  What if it was forever?
He looked into his mother’s eyes again.  Its crystal blue looked back at him with such love that it calmed the unsteady waters of his worried heart.
‘Ad, won’t you let me leave with a piece of mind, knowing that you are there to carry on doing what I’ll be missing out on?’  The sudden change in his brother’s voice pulled him out of trance and Adrian turned to see tears glistening in the similar crystal blue eyes of his brother.  The similarity between mother and son was striking, why hadn’t he ever seen how much of his mother was staring back at him through his brother’s kind face?  His eyes tingled.  It was an odd sensation, never had he in his living memory wanted to cry so much.
He looked at his brother again through blurred vision, wanting to remember every detail, every hair, every wrinkle, every crooked tooth that were part of that brilliant man’s smile.  In the hazy moment he looked upon Sophie, who had attached herself to her husband’s side.  This may be the last I’ll ever see this, he thought, and again his stomach squirmed, only five times more uneasily.  He wanted to run back up to his room, slam that door, drop under the covers and wail.  What would happen to his family?  His family?  But there he was, his mother still holding onto his arm lovingly, or perhaps to keep him from doing exactly what he was thinking.
Finally, he nodded.  ‘Promise to write everyday’ he asked choking on the words, and saw his brother nod vigorously.
‘I’ll write everyday.’  He smiled satisfactorily and walked arm in arm with his wife towards the other two.  ‘But I can’t promise you’ll receive it everyday’ a slight teasing grin crossed his poignant face and Adrian couldn’t help but return the grin despite the agony it caused him to think the worst.
‘And promise you’ll come home soon’ he asked hoping despite everything that Jonathan would change his mind and return home from half way to join his family the next day for breakfast.  He watched Jonathan’s jaw clench and unclench and felt a ton of weight come crashing down on his wretched heart.
‘We’re going to miss you!’ He swallowed hard and took his mother in his arm.  He had no courage to say goodbye and that much was for sure.
‘I have to get going now’ Jonathan said weakly and tried his best to hide his sniffling.
It took half an hour more to say goodbye and the twenty minute walk from the house to the train station seemed like ages.  The two brothers walked on side by side, neither speaking more than the other.  The silence spread.  Adrian heaved Jonathan’s bag higher on his back and walked.  There were a thousand more things he could say to try and change his brother’s mind – but in the end, he knew, none would make a difference.  As the station came into view, he kept looking at his brother expectantly.