WORKING ON THE LETTERS
Posted by Vivek on December 15, 2015 | No Comments
Q1) A little about how the project came your way ?
It was initially over a phone call from my Line Producer Tony Cordeaux who sounded me out for a period feature to be shot in India,I fixed an appt and met him ,he showed me some video clips of test shoots and explained that it is a Biopic on Mother Teresa,,he said its in planning and we will talk again,few weeks later I got a call again from Tony and he wanted me to come over for a meeting,over coffee he said the project is on and asked if I was free to do it,I said it would be an honor and pleasure to be on it and a challenge too,I love period films and biopics,I didnt have to think much and agreed immed.
Videos,Resumes,drafts,discussions and skype chats followed with my Dir Bill Riead( A well known Docu filmmaker),He gave me an idea of what and how he wanted to do the film and very importantly soundwise what he wanted for the film,Given our common background in Documentaries it was easy to understand,he also said he was happy to have me on board and that I had a fantastic resume,adding that it would be pleasure to
work with you and am sure you will do a good job, I felt good,welcome and confident, I was given a low down on the cast/crew/locales/schedule etc,one of the deciding factors of doing the film was the Dop Jack N Green,who is a legend and needs no intro,I wanted to work with him.
Tony was extremely helpful and supportive and being a filmmaker himself he knew what I needed to know and adviced me on the same in advance and helping me with details and made me comfortable, much before shoot started, with cast and crew over meetings
Q2) What was the experience like working on it?
In one word excellent couldnt have been better,thoroughly enjoyed every moment. To start of with,i had prepared myself well ,reading and watching from other films(Period,Biopic),I carefully went through the location stills,watched videos of the locations,making notes,selecting my crew with expereince to the relevant film and very importantly getting the right equipment.
I had excellent rapport with my crew and other crew members,Cast where a mix of Indian and foreigners,Dir Bill Riead was an excellent communicator and hence there was never any issues,very approachable,patient and kind too,actors were cooperative,The production team gave us excellent support.We did a detailed location recce wherein most problems were sorted out I would like to work with Bill and Tony again whenever possible
Q3) The challenges faced
The Challenges faced were logistical,Creative and Technical Logistical were the locations,some slum areas had very dificult vehicular access and
hence we had to carry our gear and stuff over a large distance by hand, Creative was that being a Period film I had to make sure that there were no extraneous sounds which were not there in that particular period,I had to be careful to filter out such ambient sound and disturbances as much as possible and make sure that what I record were usable dialog,Given the locations it was very difficult but patience,techniques,technology,prayers and good luck helped in getting the work done.
A creative issue I had to handle was the dialog tone of Mother Teresa,she talks in a heavy whisper almost throaty with a accented voice which was they way it was needed,so myself and Dir Bill Riead decided that she would be speaking that way throughout the film and wouldnt change to another tone,as that was her original voice of Mother Teresa,recording whispers in very loud and noisy environs is close to disaster but managed to get good usable and clean dialogs, What the audience hears is almost 100% of what was recorded at location,there hasnt been any ADR/Dubbing for the film except a few lines which were for reasons other than sound,so the dialog track is 100% location sound with very little post processing done.
The costumes were at times a issue for micing, but excelelnt rapport with and support from the costume dept saved us many a times,they had creative and good suggestions for micing which we were happy to incorporate.
Technically it was tough as we shot in peak summer and in very high humidity,so I had some equipment breakdowns and stoppages but luckily I had backups and there was very little downtime as I had factored in this weather possibility.
We had to shoot in Churches, Chapels, Cathedrals,most were a sound nightmare, very reverberant,almost empty and acoustically not good,working around those situations with almost nothing to except thinking on your feet was a tough thing I always had to do,sometimes though they were a blessing in disguise,for exp when we recorded a live choir in a church it sounded so warm and intimate that it surprised me, thanks to the acoustics.
We had to shoot a lot of crowd sequences in very noisy locations as visually they went well with the script but had to get the crowd to keep quiet for the dialog sequences We shot long day exteriors in these conditions and were physically drained and exhausted at the end of the day,it was more tougher on the cast with makeup and costumes to work, Given the end results I would think these are very minor issues and always expected in these circumstances. I would like to take this oppurtunity to thank my crew-Shashi Kasare(Boom Operator) and Anil DMello(2nd Boom and Asst) without whom this work wouldnt have been possible.
Q4) A little about your background (FTII, etc)
I had done my Masters in Cinema with specialaisation in Sound Recording from FTII,Pune after completing my Masters in Chemistry from Kolkata University. My interest in Cinema started in school days with watching B/W BBC Wildlife documentaries esp of David Attenborough along with Documentaries in TV and later a mix of Hollywood,Indian,European ,Asian films,I was an active participant in organising film screenings and festivals in my school and college days and still make sure that I attend film festivals when ever I can,I conduct workshops on Sound for Cinema at various film schools all over India and abroad.
I am born and brought up in Kolkata and hence had a very early access and interest in Cinema from early childhood,Akira Kurosawa,Steven Spielberg,French and Italian Masters were an early influence.
Besides Films and Documentaries I am a avid fan of Food and Travel shows on TV,Anthony Bourdain, Ian Walker etc are something I enjoy.
I travel a lot and enjoy books and Western Classical music when not working I am based out of Mumbai but travel the world with work and enjoy doing what I do.
Q5) What are other upcoming projects?
I have quite a few Interesting Feature Film projects in the pipeline,namely a feature set in South Asia based on WW2 An International Feature on religion to be shot across 5 Countries A Food and Travel show for an International Channel Few Hindi Mainstream feature films with interesting scripts Film school being setup in Southern Africa and NE Africa to tap and train upcoming filmmakers from Africa
I also devote sometime of the year to work in Feature films of neighboring countries of India and be an active participant in devoloping the film culture in those countries,esp Bangladesh/Pakistan/Nepal/Bhutan/Burma and SE Asia I wish to thank you and mt family for this opportunity and am grateful to GOD for all I have achieved! And look foward to your continued support and blessings