Saturday, May 26, 2012

Trailer for Metroxical New York

Metroxical New York Documentary Film at IFFK 2012

Ok here's a bit of an exciting news for y'all! 'Metroxical New York' is having its World Premiere at the 5th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, between 8th-12th June 2012, at Trivandrum. It's part of the official selection under the Long Documentary Competitive section. Directed & Narrated by Kousalya, Co-directed by Dass, Co-created by Raghu & Ramesh Mourthy as part of the production of AccessibleHorizon FilmCollective, Accessible Horizon Films. Here's a poster.
For those who are wondering what, about a year and half ago, we shot our now, latest documentary film called 'Metroxical New York' in underground New York City(some of you know about it). Due to 500 & 5's production, it had taken kind of a backseat w.r.t editing and post-production. But now it's all done and ready. For more info, visit

Monday, May 21, 2012

4 Basics before making an Indie film - Learning from ‘Ayynoorum Ayynthum (500 & 5)’ (Part 2)

(This is part 2 of the Indie filmmaking Series 'Learning from Ayynoorum Ayynthum (500 & 5). Part 1 Intro can be found here)
So you know, there’s this one time, in our lives, no actually, make that many times, where we realize there’s gotta be a line between ‘talking’ and ‘just doing it’. Many a times, we know we’ve been having this feeling of wanting to do something but never get around to it. But at some point, that ‘wanting’ to do it, turns into actually ‘doing it’ and for that to happen, especially when you’re trying to make an independent film, you need to have some basic things in place that’ll help you ‘decide’ to make that transition. Of course, like anything, there are so many other things that can tell you when you make that transition. Now coming to think of it, before we started production of Ayynoorum Ayynthum (500 & 5), we apparently had undergone these basics, without which we wouldn’t have been prepared for the next stages.

1. The 'Need' to tell the story
The word ‘Need’ is loaded. Maybe I should word it ‘desperate need’ to tell the story. I think you don’t get to that desperate stage before undergoing a lot of painful growing-up stuff. The need also stems out of a deep frustration that’s been lying within for a long time. Before getting to the need-to-tell-the-story-of-500&5 phase, I wrote other scripts spending months and even years to write apparently masterpieces that big studios would just swoop down and pick up. One of them even made it among the top 10 finalists of the IFFLA film fund development grant, but they were just sitting there, lifeless words unable to get someone to give them a soul, a form and make them into a living film. We tried getting those scripts through the gatekeepers, met up with reasonably well-known actors and did the whole nine yards thing. But something felt wrong, very very wrong. I/we spent 2-3 years getting ‘others’ to see our vision that we started losing our vision ourselves. The goal of making our film, was getting farther and farther. Then the frustration started to build up. Fuck, can’t we just keep it simple? Just freakin’ do it ourselves instead of waiting around for things to happen? Then we started talking, talking and talking…the want was becoming a need, to tell some story, any fucking story from within our sensibilities, the way we want it. Forget making masterpieces, forget star actors, forget the big monies, just tell it, damn it, let’s give the script a life! So there, we decided to tell the story about ‘money’ from a sort-of existential POV, which we’ve often talked about. The concept of money was a recurring theme in our discussions and so we made it the center of our film. Now, behind all the frustration, the seemingly wasted energies/time/efforts, came the ‘Need’, because if the desperate need is present, it will necessitate everything else, because it fulfils the question ‘why’? At that moment, we knew the need had to be addressed, no matter what. But of course, needing it and getting it have a long bridge in between them. So comes the next thing, the story.

2. The Story/Script
Do I need to state the obvious? Let’s face it. If there’s even a modicum of an evocative response to a film, it can only be attributed to its script. As any Joe Shmoe can tell you, a film is only as great as its story or more specifically the script. Everything else is secondary. The direction, cast, execution…everything. Of course, this is a highly subjective thing we’re dealing with here. But irrespective of how ‘good’ it is, it is one of the most personal stages of filmmaking considering how collaborative the entire process is. The writing process is by far the most intense experience that you can delve into without having to include anyone. The stage with total control in the otherwise chaotic filmmaking process. Considering my other feature screenplays that have taken months to write and re-write, 500 & 5 just took 15 intense days. Days and months of thought had already gone into it while the frustration was building up and when it was time to write, it all just exploded. A beautiful cathartic release. So if you have to get anywhere towards starting your film, you gotta have this part figured out. I could probably refer to millions of resources where you can find out more about the screenwriting process but personally, you really have to look within to get those words out. If you don’t connect with the story on an internal, personal level, then no amount of formulaic writing is going to help you achieve those needs.

3. The Team
One thing we realized, no matter what, the people that you are most comfortable with, are the ones you’re gonna be working with, if you’re gonna make a film(which usually takes months or years of your life). It’s not about experience or hiring union or whatever. Someone I knew used to say, “Work with people who are smarter than you” because with an ambitious vision at stake, you can’t possibly get into it thinking you’re the best brain at doing it the best way. The four of us, in our core team, knew how to do stuff, understood the process and all, but we weren’t the best at everything. Before we started production, we thought we had to hire only experienced film industry technicians and crew to get this made, because obviously this has to turn out damn good, right? And we did, but slowly things were falling apart for various reasons, mainly the comfort factor, for a project as unconventional as 500 & 5 and also, experienced doesn’t necessarily mean smarter especially with our use of more contemporary technology. For example, with a conventional film camera, you have lenses that are compatible with standard follow-focus rings that let you to easily manipulate the focus while in motion but with our use of DSLRs we didn’t have that luxury, so we had to use lenses without the follow-focus rings, which was quite a challenge. A traditionally experienced cameraman initially came on board with spiel after spiel of how he was the right man for the job but the day before shooting started, he bailed out, apparently not being to able to handle the challenges of Indie production. So within us, we had to learn stuff and ‘upgrade’ and get smarter and more adaptable people on board who understood what we were trying to do. Also, we had to resort to DIY(Do-it-yourself) filmmaking most of the time figuring out how to create things from scratch(more on that later). So basically, the point is to create a team of adaptable, understanding people(even if you’re a crew of just one or two) if you want your production to go smooth.

4. The Technology - The DSLR Revolution
Ahh, the icing on the cake. The word is DSLR or HDLSR. If you’ve heard this term before then you’ve heard of the revolution. The digital filmmaking revolution. Obviously, this is not something we invented because it’s been around the block, and quite a bit at that. I guess we’ve just been making it more popular and not without reason. It’s an abbreviation for Digital Single-Lens Reflex. Case in point, the Canon 7D, 5D Mark II and the more recent Mark III all unleashed by Canon. Indie filmmakers including us, have lapped up these cameras like there’s no tomorrow.
Even when you have the above three, the one thing that can keep you from starting production is the technology you are going to use. Obviously, we can’t all afford 35mm film cameras or the expensive Red or the Arri Alexa cameras. Thing is, if…if…you know (or learn to figure out) how to wield these cameras, they can be a boon especially when you consider their low-cost. A camera is only as good as the person wielding it. I’d written an earlier article on the use of DSLRs from the trenches here. But the main reason to put this out is how many people don’t realize the high price-performance ratio of the DSLRs. Before we started production, we compared the Canon 7D(costs around $1800) footage to the Sony EX1(around $6000) on the big screen, and there was no contest. The 7D’s image quality was far superior to the EX1’s. That’s how we decided to go with the 7D and its cousin the 5D. But as with any new technology, we had to understand its limitations and then work it to our advantage. At such a low-cost, a filmmaker has no reason to worry about the budget of making a feature-length film. In fact, as many feature filmmakers are resorting to digital cameras, the advent of the DSLRs can only help Indie filmmakers achieve their goals.

So when you have these 4 basic things figured out, there is an ample chance that you can jump from talking about making your film to actually doing it. Of course, there’s a ton of other chaotic factors involved, but this should give you the basic understanding, or sort of foundational signs that you may be in the right track.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Learning from ‘Ayynoorum Ayynthum(500 & 5)' – Indie filmmaking Series (Part 1)

If you want to learn ‘Indie(Independent) filmmaking’, there are probably thousands of resources and millions of ways to show you how to do so. But the thing about ‘learning Indie filmmaking’ from others is in itself a paradox. Because when you make a film in the true ‘Indie’ spirit of the word, you are actually going all-out yourself without much dependency on the traditional system or…just by Doing-it(Everything)-yourself, literally. Another thing is that it’s far too unstructured and chaotic to even try to learn it all with the amount of information deluge that hurls your way. But, at any rate…there’s nothing like experiencing the puzzling thing we call life, penning your thoughts down, taking your camera, getting into the trenches, wading through the shit, smelling the stench, finding the pearl and coming out with a unique piece of work. Or at least, ‘your’ unique piece of work. So, with the culmination of ‘Ayynoorum Ayynthum(500 & 5)’ ‘round the corner, we thought we could just share our perspective of making this film the ‘Indie’ way and add to the chaos, ahem! And maybe through this process, we intend to keep track of our own doings and maybe…maybe aid in the demystification of the process of Independent filmmaking in the digital and new media age.
One primary way of looking at filmmaking is that it’s mostly about learning through experience and eventually asserting your perspective in the world. Sure there are a zillion perspectives out there, but how is yours different. Your perspective may not or need not be the ‘best’ but is it different than the remaining zillion-minus-one of them? That’s what this whole thing’s about. Seriously, for someone who considers film school to be redundant – not because they don’t teach useful stuff but because of the concept of indoctrination of what constitutes good filmmaking – I certainly think twice about sharing and receiving ‘creative’ advice with others(not that we are all above it). Because, in the few years that we’ve been independently making films, I realized one thing. How could one contain the almost cosmic nature of the filmmaking process into a few nuggets of concise writing/advice in either book form or film school form? That’s why I repeat, what many truly visionary filmmakers have shown - filmmaking, to each his/her own – I mean, in perspective(for that matter, every film has its philosophy). And that’s why I even wonder about the concept of Herzog’s Rogue film school. By that definition, isn’t it also an indoctrination of how to be a Rogue filmmaker? But I guess that’s going too far out. But the point I’m trying to make is, getting your own perspective of things without being tainted by the usual suspects.
On the flip side though, we do feel the urge to share whatever we have learnt in a sort of organic way where one doesn’t teach but merely inform so that others can make decisions based on their set of experiences and subjective realities. More so, IMO, the creative process is best when cultivated from within one’s own universe, which I guess would more effectively bring out that unique POV. I know it’s hard not to be influenced by the variety of media and consumerist onslaught that constantly tells you what you need, to be ‘successful’ or ‘famous’ or ‘rich’, because if someone feels the need to be a filmmaker that arises from the need to be ‘rich, famous and successful’ in the traditional sense of the words, then I doubt if that could lead to creating true art. So anyways, as we near the completion of our project, with the background music(Re-recording) pending, we thought we’d start putting this out. This ‘learning’ is as much a learning for us, from our trials and errors as it is for others who are looking to learn themselves. If you’re even a wee bit curious, watch out for this series, as we’ll try our best to make it a weekly column or whatever. And hey, nothing in this series is meant to be an absolute so take it with a pinch of salt. And of course, if you have anything to share or contribute please feel free to add to the discussion.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sibling thingy..!!

Siblings are such a this reality.. to fight with, to fight for.. to complain about, to complain to.. to share, to snatch.. to cuddle, to kick.. to cry, to laugh.. to judge, to appreciate, to find comfort in.. to seek advice, to play, to yell, to like..and most of all.. to LOVE!..and much more.. to all the the universe for creating them.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Holding the tiger by the tail - 500 & 5

It's been a little over a year since we started 500 & 5 and guess what, it's not over yet. I mean, it is but it is not. In a lot of ways, we have come through a lot, done a million things, interacted with a gazillion people, met with next to impossible hurdles and stuff. But it's not completely over yet. The beast has only become bigger and more monstrous than ever...and as they say 'the last few miles are the hardest'. Well, tell me about it! The moment we started 500 & 5 in an unconventional way, we knew we caught the tiger by its tail. And till now, haven't really had a single moment to release it. Of course, we've been doing several other things but the thought of it, holding it and needing to wait until the right moment is ever present. So we're biding our time and are trying to figure out the next steps in the process. Until then, I guess it's gonna be one adrenalin-inducing trip. We try to stay calm as the tiger is struggling to break free and go berserk, but can't let it out, yet. Restraint, action and then release. Almost zen-like in mode.

Thursday, May 03, 2012


One by one..the pieces make sense..and the end product..the purpose..realizes itself..through the beings.. the puzzle solves itself with our help?? or is the idea manifested in this reality..?? either ways..we completed something we started..and dear friends and loved was not about the end product.. it was the process all along!!! being parts of an infinite whole..makes us what?? mm..CONNECTED! thank you for your patience and love to sit through these 13 i said earlier..please read & see between lines. For more..please visit..

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


Nature does not go on giving also gives you the luxury to balance it sit back and feel good about how you handled the issues of crisis.. woo-hoo..

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Sharing bitter experiences eases the pain so much..hence, this piece..but wait! the universe chooses who stays in your purpose and who offers lessons..hmm..