Digital communication has made film-making a smaller, more efficient space that allows the director to draw on the best resources around the world. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
Yes. In a way. Digital filmmaking makes the team a lot more disciplined in terms of spending and utilization of available resources, thereby increasing the need for efficiency. We also need to stay on our toes to mask our limitations (budgets) and get the best output. So we improvise and look to all available options to get the best product out. But when it comes to drawing the best resources around the world, time factor plays a brings a lot of challenges since we need quicker turnarounds and reviews to happen.
VR offers exciting possibilities: as a dynamic new storytelling medium; as a rich narrative device within conventional film; and as a practical, time-saving pre-production tool. What are your views on the same?
Yes, I do believe that VR offers exciting possibilities in terms of storytelling, but I believe the keyword here is user experience. VR offers a user experience that was never available before. I think we (agencies and production houses) should start experimenting with this technology on a wider scale, but we need to be patient about the results. And I think we shouldn't look to the west to take the lead in this area and set about doing things trusting our own instincts. As far as using VR as a pre-production tool is concerned, it definitely looks like it could play a huge role during pre-production in the future.
As a creative studio, the reliance on sharing and managing files between multiple users working on one project means an increased dependence on software, which can be frustrating at times. What expectations do you have from Software companies in making the collaborative workflows hassle-free?
I think on this front we are getting there, working on the cloud is helping a lot in terms of managing and sharing files. What we really need is a platform for reviewing video content in a precise and detailed manner. There are a few options available but they could do with improvements.
"As film history has progressed, so too has the sophistication of filmmaking technology, from cameras, to sound recording, to editing. Technological advancements in these areas expand the creative potential of the filmmaker." In the light of this statement can you tell us how technology has impacted the field of filmmaking in the last 5 yrs?
The advancements have helped reduce a lot of technological clutter enabling the filmmaker to concentrate more on the creative aspect of things rather than getting lost in the technological maze. In a way, filmmaking has become more accessible, which wasn't the case a few years earlier. You no longer need a huge editing suite to get your film edited. You can get it done on a laptop. This has helped a lot of young people get a taste of filmmaking, opening doors to young aspirants who want to go out there make films, make mistakes and learn from them, and repeat it till they get it right. This luxury was not available to the earlier bunch. In essence, this has helped create more talented voices to come into the industry.
Who or what has been your greatest influence on your way of thinking and process?
I am always on the lookout for things that interest me, whatever strikes me, stays with me and the next time I see an opportunity to use that, I do it. I always try to get one thing I want in every project I do. It could be a visual style, an editing style, a frame, a colour tone, a particular sound design or a genre of music I heard somewhere. I try to find some element of humour or drama wherever possible and when all else fails, I think to myself - "What would Prakash Varma do?"
The internet has democratized the creative landscape, what are your thoughts on the manner in which the internet has affected the production of movies?
Sometime back during a conversation I had with an editor, he said this "Google has been a kind teacher." He meant the internet. Yes, the internet has revolutionized the way the film enthusiast learns. I learned a lot of my filmmaking on the internet. My early days as an assistant helped me to get a lot of hands-on experience, but the internet prepares you for almost everything else. Any query you have, the answers are available. There are a lot of tutorials available online that helps you figure out your workflows during the pre-production and post-production phases. The internet filmmaker is in a way a lot more fearless than earlier generations, And that's a good thing.
What expectations do you have from Software companies in making the collaborative workflows hassle-free?
These days, with decreasing timelines and increased pressures, we often find that we are facing unnecessary hiccups due to non-compatibility between various software, for e.g.: moving timelines between certain editing and CG software or vice versa. The filmmaker should be provided the freedom to choose what software he wants to edit on, do his CG work and sound work on. I feel companies should focus more on helping filmmakers create the film in a workflow that suits the filmmakers.
How do you see the influence of social media such as Facebook and Twitter on the creative industry?
Social media has changed the way the industry thinks. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media provide for an interactive experience which was not the case with older media. In the specific case of films, I see a change in the audiovisual grammar of storytelling - memes, gifs etc are now a big part of digital communication, a simple sound like the sound of an FB messenger alert are now part of our cultural sub-conscience.