I stumbled upon the 48 Hour Film Project by chance.
It was a girl named Jelena Dancetovic, a movie buff I met at an event I'd organised, who told me about the competition that was on in Dubai last November and that registrations were open for entries. This was the first time it was being held in Dubai. Once I got home, I looked it up on the net and learnt more about it. You are given a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre, and you have to write, shoot and edit a short movie in just 48 hours.
The project's mission is to push the boundaries of filmmaking and promote filmmakers. The tight deadline is to emphasise creativity and teamwork skills.
Initially, I wanted to join an existing team but then changed my mind. I called up my friend, Rohit Jaykaran, who promptly came on board and together we decided to do the film. In all there were 12 of us in the team, and what was interesting was that none of us had worked on anything like this before.
Technically this was our first short film and we named it Solus.
Solus is Latin for solitude. It revolves around a character named Zachariah Sultan, a man who's new to Dubai. Strange things begin to happen in his life once he starts to settle down.
Once we registered we invited a few close friends to join us and help us realise our dream. Each member came with his own set of skills and it was brilliant how the pieces fell into place. We knew that time was the main factor to manage and we developed our plot as smoothly as possible.
Solus is a six-minute horror film that plays on your mind. It allows the viewer to come to his/her own conclusion about the fate of the protagonist.
We were elated when our movie won three awards - for Best Film, Best Script and Most Promising Filmmaker at the competition. Solus will be screened along with other regional winners at a short film festival in New Mexico in March. We will be going there to represent it.
Chasing a dream is nice but knowing your goal is vital.
Six years ago I was in sales and marketing. But even during those times, I enjoyed hosting events and would get totally involved coordinating the finer details at product launches and press meets. I was happiest when I was being creative. I then joined a local theatre group, did a few plays... The acclaim and the applause I received encouraged me and soon my roles began to get bigger, my acts began to come more easily and I felt genuinely good about the work I was delivering. So I listened to my inner voice and decided to switch careers and go into events and media production. That was three years ago and there has been no looking back.
My first lead role was in the play Driving Miss Daisy in 2005.
The play was adapted into a movie of the same name, released in 1989. In the play, I took the role of the chauffeur; Morgan Freeman had played the part in the film. Three months after I acted in the play, I was overjoyed when I had the chance to meet Freeman who was a guest at the Dubai International Film Festival! It was pure magic to meet the man I had mirrored on stage. I listened in awe as he was giving an interview to a media person and his words and his spirit touched me deeply. He is quite an inspiration.
From stage I went into organising events.
I love what life is giving me. Last summer I met my favourite director, James Cameron, who was in the UAE. We were shooting a short film and were preparing to capture a twilight scene in Al Katim Desert, near Abu Dhabi. It was the last day of the shoot and we were taking the final shot for the schedule when Cameron chanced upon us in the desert. He was in town for a media seminar and was on a desert safari during his time off.
He was with us as we took that last shot. My colleague, Mini Sharma, and I joined him after pack-up and spent close to half an hour talking to him about film, techniques... It was the most enlightening half an hour of my life.
1. What would you term as the soul of a film?
The storyline - from it comes the script, the characters and all else.
2. What next?
I have started work on a short film and will begin shooting later this month. I can't reveal the details just now.