Friday, September 25, 2009

Is East finally meeting West in Filmmaking?

Hollywood has been the traditional torchbearer of excellent cinema, with scattered gems thrown in from other parts of the world, but none able to match the mammoth American film industry in quantity served with excellent quality.


Let us name a few of these gems. Sergei Eisenstein from Russia, Akira Kurosawa from Japan, Jean Luc Goddard from France, Satyajit Ray from India and Abbas Kiarostami from Iran. England has also captured world attention by propping up brilliant filmmakers like Richard Attenborough and Danny Boyle. Among all these countries, India has the most fledgling film industry.

Though in terms of quality Indian cinema still has a long way to go, it is the biggest film industry in terms of feature films produced every year. More than 1000 films are made in the country annually, led largely by the Hindi film industry pseudonymed Bollywood, while the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada cinema follow along with other regional Indian film setups. No Hollywood film has been able to give severe competition to an Indian hit film in India. Movies like Titanic have had major successes in the sub continent, but such movies are few and far between. Many award winning Hollywood films are released here, to be watched by an elite audience, while the masses prefer to keep to their masala films.

The reverse is even more true for Indian cinema in United States and UK, where except for the Indian expat population you would find one in a million soul who follows Bollywood. However, in certain European countries Bolywood stars are quite popular. For example, Shah Rukh Khan, who was recently in controversy over his detention at a US airport, is much loved in Germany and the French government recently presented him with its top culural award.

slumdogMovies like Slumdog Millionaire have raised curiosity about India, a country of mystery and wonder for many. Incidentally, as I write this post Julia Roberts is busy shooting her new film 'Eat, Pray, Love' at a Hindu Ashram in Pataudi, India. Now while such forays by western filmmakers into India have been common, Indian filmmakers have usually shot expat stories in western locales, with hardly any local western element (a recent Bollywood movie Namstey London was an exception).

Now let me come to the point for which I have been trying to build up momentum. Even as Hollywood studios like Warner bros and Sony Pictures have just started investing in Indian films, the Indian film industry is doing a similar thing in America. India's Reliance Entertainment is investing heavily in the projects of major filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Nicolas Cage. Its planned collaboration cum investment with such Hollywood stalwarts is to the tune of $1billion.

Many years before these deals and collaborations, quite a few Indian film actors Aishwarya Raihave been roped in to do Hollywood roles, most notably famous among whom is Aishwarya Rai. Others include Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri and Gulshan Grover. Conversely, Indian movies have often roped in British actors, often to make them play roles in films displaying the colonial past. Things are getting more interesting as Indian movie budgets are going up. A forthcoming Bollywood movie called 'Blue' has Kylie Minogue performing a song which also features the voice of Indian singer Sonu Nigam while she dances along with Indian actor Akshay Kumar. Some people hate this song titled 'Chiggy Wiggy...' as a waste of Kyie Minogue, while others are loving it. Here's the full thing from YouTube:

Coming back to Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan, his new film 'My Name is Khan' is slated for a December release and deals with the issue of religious profiling in the United States. Fox Studios in a joint venture with Star network has decided to invest Rupees 1 Billion ($21 million approx) in the film for distribution rights.

So is the east finally meeting west in filmmaking?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Advice for young filmmakers

Sam Raimi, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Guillermo del Toro offer advice to young filmmakers.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Filmmaking popularity on the decline?

Is the popularity of filmmaking on the decline? Yes it is, according to Google trends.

The graph below shows the number of web users who have searched for the word 'filmmaking' on google. It seems less and less people are searching for the profession each year.

Another interesting statistic related to the above graph is the regions from which people are seeking information about filmmaking on the internet. Amazingly, India is at the top spot with a comfortable margin and 2 of its cities - New Delhi and Mumbai figure on the list.

As you can see, the top filmmaking city of America is Irvine, beating Los Angeles! Both are in the state of California though.

But is the filmmaking trend really going downhill? Or are people getting smarter and searching more targetted stuff like film schools, film training etc? Lets see:

As you can see above, that does not seem to be the case. Even the popularity of film schools seems to be on the decline!

Maybe people have just become more practical and instead of wasting time on the internet they are actually going out to shoot their films! Hopefully :)

Monday, March 16, 2009

LA Comedy Shorts a Success

LA comedy shorts The L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival, a four-day, non-stop celebration of comedic short films, came to hilarious conclusion on March 8.

The inaugural festival was a tremendous success, bringing together the hottest comedic talent in the industry for a fun-packed weekend of screenings, parties, industry panels and star-studded red carpet events. The LACSFF proudly hosted over 65 filmmakers from around the world…outstanding for a first time festival!

The L.A. Comedy Shorts Film Festival celebrated director/writer/actor/comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, who received the very first COMMIE AWARD in recognition of his comedic genius and contribution to comedy filmmaking. The award was presented by Tom Kenny, who is the voice of Spongebob Square Pants and has been friends with Goldthwait since the early formative age of six.

Filmmakers and screenwriters competed for over $40,000 in cash and prizes. Packages include in-person meetings with comedy video websites and, and management/production companies Benderspink and Generate, as well as a copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter 6 software, courtesy of The Write Brothers. The Funny Or Die Best-Of-Fest Award will also receive a featured position on the Funny or Die homepage, a one-day film production package courtesy of The Association valued at $12,000, plus a post-sound editing package on their next short film, courtesy of Stokes Audio, an $8000+ video editing package from Storytellerz Productions and an original musical scoring package by composer Kubilay Uner.

The 3MM Digital Filmmaking Contest

The Seattle Times newspaper in United States has invited readers to submit entries to the 2009 Three Minute Masterpiece digital-film contest.

The Three Minute Masterpiece (3MM) digital-film contest works like this:

Use your digital-video camera to make a film on any subject you like, as long as it's suitable for a family-newspaper audience. (No sex, violence or bad language, please.) It must be 3 minutes or less.

Here's how you enter: Make your movie. Upload it at, and your movie will be added to their youtube playlist

Very important: If you use music, you must have permission.

Special category: Filmmakers under 18 are eligible for the J. Michael Rima award for young directors.

That's it. When you upload your video, make sure you include your name, phone number, age (if under 18) and movie title. If you are selected as one of the finalists, you will be contacted about providing a higher-resolution version of your film.

Winners will be shown on The Seattle Times Web site and at the Seattle International Film Festival. The grand-prize winner will get two full-series passes to this year's film festival. The J. Michael Award will be a special prize presented by the Rima family. Entries must be e-mailed to us by 11:59 p.m. April 20.