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.

Childhood hopes and dreams: debunked!

Let’s get right to it, and I’m addressing everyone who has every wanted to be someone, something, anything in life and not just the writers. Growing up you could have wanted to be a doctor, and I’m sure most of us had imagined this one because of the importance society places on it (as I did once – tsk tsk). Or you could have wanted to be an architect, and falsely so because you saw your neighbour build tiny houses out of cardboard and thought it would be fun to ‘do’ (like me!). Or you could have wanted to be an actress (or actor) because the ladies (or gents) in the TV and movies looked so glamorous and you thought it would be fun too (like I used to when I was yay big). Of course, at that time I didn’t even know what the word ‘glamorous’ even meant!

Just take a moment and jot down the number of professions you changed in the course of growing up, how many options did you give yourself? One? Two? Three?, or maybe more, a lot more? And how did you finally arrive at what you are currently doing, or trying to do. Now go back to your childhood (not literally of course, otherwise every one might think the story of Benjamin Buttons was actually true!). Have you ended up with any of those professions you professed you loved/admired and wanted to be?

I’m willing to bet that most of us will say no to that question, and very few will find that they did end up in one of the professions they preferred as a child. Why is that so, by the way? That growing up we fancy so many professions, only to end up in a completely different thread? Like me for example. I used to say I wanted to be a doctor, and I believe that was because everybody else was saying the same thing and as kids we tend to copy one another. That’s how we learn, right?

Well, imagine that? If it had come true, then all of us would be doctors, and we would barely have one patient per doctor because simply there are too many of us. And where does that leave the rest of the world? Yikes!

After that, I wanted to be an architect, then an actress, then for a brief while, an air hostess. I have absolutely no idea why I chose these professions. Maybe they looked fun through a child’s eyes. But, several years on, I have found myself traveling down a road I had not even fathomed existed as a kid.

I wanted to be a writer! Pretty much since I was about 14. And though I had no idea how I would do such a thing, I have nevertheless travelled down a road that has occasionally nudged me deeper into writing, be it short stories, poems, novels or scriptwriting. I have done them all!

How did I reach this decision? Utterly by accident, a happy accident, but an accident nonetheless. A day without homework nor reading material, and a teacher telling me not to sit idle. That’s what it took to make sure I travelled down this road. It might come across odd to many people in these modern times, but I’m a believer of fate. I used to say I’m going to be a writer with absolute resolve that the whole universe has conspired in a way to make it so that I hold true to my word. I cannot say I can prove it entirely, but this has happened twice to me: in later years of high school, whenever asked, I’d tell people I’m going to be a movie director one day.

Guess what? I have been there and done that too now! It’s like opportunities presented itself to me and offered me options so I could keep my word.

Childhood dreams and hopes are  child’s play – fickle, fun, and ever-changing.

I did not grow up dreaming to be a writer, nor a movie director – but today, I am both! (Or at least trying to be). If you find yourself being lead down a certain path and you are curious or excited by it, I’d say give it a go. You never know where your heart truly lies till you have given something a red-hot go. It makes deciding on a life long career that much easier and pain-free most days. Even if the destination is fraught with bumps, I can guarantee that you will love every moment, the good, bad and the ugly.

(A photo still from the movie I co-directed/wrote, Sweet Marshall. Image courtesy of PFA)