Workshop by Siddharth Sinha

Graduated from the FTII as a Direction student, Siddharth Sinha’s final Diploma Film ‘Udedhbun’ won the Silver Bear award in the Short Film Category at the 58th Berlin International Film Festival in Berlin in 2008. This award, holding prestigious value, had been conferred on Indian Luminaries like V.Shantaram, Tapan Sinha, Satayajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, in the past. Being appointed as a member in the selection committee for the Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI) 2009, he is currently planning to direct his first feature Film.

Here is what he had to tell the students of NM College at a seminar organized by DA at their college festival in December 2012. Starting off on a note about how movies turn out the way they appear to us, he posed a question to the students, Do you think a movie turns out the way it was thought exactly?” No! You might prepare in advance for weeks, months or years; but the location, situation and Actors are the defining factors that can change things you may have visualized them to be.

Today, the attention span of movies for the audience has got shorter. That’s why it has become even more important that a Film needs to tell a story visually. You need to make the audience believe what they see. He gave an example of Chak De India, where, in one of the stadium scenes SRK is very angry, but he shows his anger through nuances in expression rather than dialogues.

Write a scene, not a dialogue” was what Siddharth stressed on. The audience should understand the Actor’s tension and intensity, and that’s what makes a scene.

To further prove his point, Siddharth asked students what they would pick if given a choice as a Filmmaker – a screenplay filled with pages or a movie scene which one could enjoy and understand even when watching on mute? Definitely you would go for the later one. And yes there’s a broader reason to it. The movie needs to be enjoyed by all and language should not become a barrier. Even more so, because translating a movie to different languages results in losing out on the essence of the movie.

Talking about Digital Filmmaking, he recalled a situation where he was a member of the jury at a Film Festival in Delhi. Among the top entries received, there were 2-3 movie entries by students, that were shot using a cell phone camera. And yes, he was amazed by the work. Ten years back, there was a classical and methodical way of shooting. But Digital Filmmaking has broken all norms today.

Superman of Malegaon’ shot in this unconventional style, was the best example according to him. Being a locally shot movie, it caught every Filmmaker’s attention. Digital Filmmaking without doubt, has given a casual approach to Filmmaking today. You never know five years down the line, there would be no reel Films, no 35mm. Today digital is the game changer; in earlier times, it was sound.

Concluding on an interesting note, Siddharth spoke about how people often confuse short Films with documentaries. Even a Feature Film, in his opinion could be short. Also, documentary movies need not always have a social message, is what he believes. Today, fortunately, there is a market for each and every type of movie, as long as you can make the audience believe in it. A Film is eventually about creating a world, a world which can be believed by the audience, irrespective of the format or the time it lasts!

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