OK! SILEXATANA-an interview with SONAL MAZUMDER

CULT CRITIC – Sonal, Welcome you to CULT CRITIC. First I would like to ask what prompted you to make a film on the relationship between human and digital world?

Sonal : A wonderful script and a protracted thought that in this digital era if we are not aware and responsible as a human, we may not face a world in which machine replicate humanity, but where humanity replicates machines. Pragmatically, technology is everywhere and highly successful. We are all hooked to it at a personal and professional level. However, we are so consumed in this digital age that we have become unaware of basic responsibility Apparently, it seems we live in a world in which more people are connected than ever before. But there is still a fundamental disconnect between the people as they are more and more dependent on the digital world. I don’t know if this is funny or scary!

CULT CRITIC – Do you have any plan to make the film on the same theme in more details with more length?

Sonal: Maybe, yes. This is my first short film as a director. I am looking forward to the audience reaction and awareness that I want to bring through this film. This is a great concept and if I get the right opportunity, I surely would make one feature.

CULT CRITIC – How is your experience with the BLACK MAGIC camera?

Sonal: The camera is awesome and Blackmagic bakes in so many professional features in a small form factor. The camera we used to shoot this film can be also used to shoot a feature and Netflix series. There was no challenge at all for a first-time filmmaker.

CULT CRITIC -Please tell some memorable moments in time of making this film?

Sonal: Loads of memories!! Some of the best memories are:

The shoot day started at 8 AM in the morning and finished at 2:30 AM the next day with only 2 breaks for lunch and evening snack. My friends in the same building offered to share their place for food arrangements for the team. They made biriyani for lunch and tea which everyone enjoyed.

The shoot was extremely tiring – it happens when you squeeze 54 shots in one day to save money. I was lucky, because my team, family and friends were extremely cooperative. One of my friends lends us his Mac laptop for 3 months because Da Vinci resolves software which is an editing software is only supported by Mac.

The first scene took about 2 hours to shoot. I had to only lie on the bed, wake up and go! We had to see the lights, camera angels, the morning haze which we created with the haze machine all are well coordinated. I realized then what it takes to achieve perfection in film making.

I had no idea about how the VFX would work out while taking the shots of the gadgets. It was fun and challenging to work with the VFX team from India and the editing team from Canada during post-production to make those flat shots more interesting.

By 12 AM, 90% of the people left. If you are not paying them, you can’t expect them to stay. Rest was very tired. My DOP couldn’t hold the heavy camera anymore, my make up was all gone but I had to keep re-doing it to make sure I look as fresh as a morning flower, my production assistant was sweaty and mixing up the scene and shot numbers, and yet we didn’t give up. That’s why they say “Only CRAZY people make films”

CULT CRITIC – How do you feel after being awarded for the film OK! Silexatana!

Sonal: Awesome! This is not a commercial film. This is a film of passion and hard work. Also, indie filmmakers spend their salary and savings in making such films. So, awards and appreciations can make it incredible and worthwhile.

CULT CRITIC -This is your first film; how would you like to prepare yourself for your next films?

Sonal: There are a lot of preparations to be made. Next, I want to work with as many filmmakers as I can to educate and enhance my skills in scriptwriting, cinematography, editing and the business of film making. I plan to attend film festivals to grow my network. My next goal is to write or develop a script which will attract investors and receive funding. I have written scientific projects for funding in my life, this is going to be challenging and fun. Last but not least – Keep watching films!

CULT CRITIC – Which difficulties you had to face in a time of the making of this film?

Sonal: First film is always challenging. But at the same time, it is rewarding as you get to learn a lot.

1. The most challenging part was generating fund – Actually you don’t generate any. All the money is from your pocket. People think it is a hobby than serious filmmaking for an established scientist like me. Crowdfunding doesn’t work well unless and until your network comprises of filmmakers or investors who like to support indie filmmakers, especially first-timer like me. And you can never answer the question “What is your ROI?”

2. I don’t have a degree or solid filmmaking background except for the fact that I love making one. So, I had to learn everything from scratch. It requires a lot of training, hard work, determination to be a successful filmmaker so a lot of learning needs to be done.

3.  One major technical challenge – to be able to make the gadgets speak and able to generate emotions at the same time. The gadgets are just gadgets and they have flat electronic voices. If you see the actual cut where the protagonist only talks to the gadgets and the gadgets deliver the dialogues, you will never screen the film. It was a lot of hard work and coordination with the sound and VFX team to able to give life to the gadgets and make the interactions lively.

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