GEETA MALIK – GENERATION NEXT ARRIVES IN INDIAN AMERICAN CINEMA
Posted by Vivek on April 24, 2011 | 2 Comment
I distinctly remember the first meeting with Geeta Malik. She was the designated photographer for a TV channel, at an event we were doing with filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, at Redondo Beach in California. There was a certain energy and a self deprecating humor about her. Later on I was not surprised when she started to make some of the finest and funniest short films, through her company Shetani Films. But I was surprised when I heard she was making her feature film debut, in a dramatic (as opposed to comic) film, called Troublemaker. Although given that she is known to push herself, whether it is to complete a marathon or do martial arts, it was no surprise to see that she was getting out of her comfort zone of comedy and into drama. Troublemaker played to a packed audience at IFFLA, and we caught up with Geeta during the festival:
You recently made your feature film debut, talk to us about the whole process, the challenges and how you overcame them?
Well! I’ll begin at the beginning! I started writing the script for “Troublemaker” while I was a graduate student in UCLA’s film directing program, in 2004. I began writing it for a class, finished a few drafts, and then barely looked at it again until I graduated, in 2007. At that point, I revisited the script and realized that it was still a story that I wanted to tell. So, I revised it for about a year and a half, and felt that it was ready to shoot. While I was writing, I was starting to ask around for money, and had many, many meetings with potential investors. However, I was getting impatient with empty promises, and was starting to really worry about how the film was going to happen.
We finally set at deadline of March 2nd, 2010, to shoot the movie with whatever we had in the bank at that time. Friends and family contributed, along with a few smaller investors, and my husband and I also agreed to use some of our savings to get it made. We started shooting on March 2nd, and shot for 19 days, guerrilla-style. We begged, borrowed, and stole locations – many of my friends lent their apartments, their parent’s houses, and one friend even loaned me his car for a month to use as the picture car. We didn’t have any permits because we couldn’t afford them, and there were a few times that we nearly got shut down. Luckily, my cast and crew were AMAZING – many of the crew came on board from UCLA, and the cast was really flexible and extremely prepared for their roles. Everyone really went above and beyond for the shoot, and we were able to keep the film’s production values up despite our tiny budget. We shot mostly handheld on the Red.
We wrapped at the end of March, and then I edited the film over the spring and summer on Final Cut Pro, on my laptop. We sound mixed, color corrected, and finalized the soundtrack by the end of summer, and the movie was ready to go out the door by September. We’re beginning our festival circuit this spring, and hope to play as much as possible before locking down distribution.
More on Troublemaker can be found at http://www.troublemakerthemovie.com/blog/
On “Troublemaker” playing at IFFLA?
IFFLA is a festival near and dear to my heart, and it was a huge honor, and a relief, to be accepted there! My UCLA thesis film, a short called “Beast”, had played there in 2008 and I was hoping that “Troublemaker” would get in. I love the Arclight theater, and it’s a real treat to see films on those screens, and with those sound systems. “Troublemaker” played to a packed house and I got a lot of great, encouraging feedback after the screening.
When do we see some of that outstanding humor in the short films of Shetani, come to the forte via a feature film?
Thanks for the compliment! After “Troublemaker,” which is a darker, more dramatic film, I’m ready to lighten back up. I’m in the midst of writing three separate features right now, all comedies, and have several more humor projects in my head that I’ll soon get out into the world!
Where does the feature go from here and what is planned next?
I hope the feature keeps playing at festivals, with the eventual goal of distribution to reach the widest audience. Next, I’m writing, writing, writing!
An Indian American from Denver, who does Martial Arts and Marathons, shows up to make films in LA, because ……?
Because she has stories to tell! Lots of them!
Because she’s been a writer for as long as she can remember, and wants to get those stories in her head out onto the big screen!
Because she’s a film geek, and hopes to inspire others as she’s been inspired!
Because she grew up watching all kinds of movies, and wants to add her unique voice and sensibilities to the world of film!