Friday, January 21, 2011

Chaotic Tendencies

Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke...

If you don't know Japanese, you probably have no clue what I am talking about. (Given that I know of no Japanese followers of my blog, the probability of your not having a clue is rather high!!!) So let me back up a bit!

To make sense of what I am talking about, you need to know what 5S is. To put in a nutshell, the principles of 5S dictate that you should put everything where it belongs! Big deal, you say! Everyone knows this, that is what our mothers (and for some, wives) have been telling us all our lives! Well, it is a big deal in the manufacturing industry - if everything is not in its proper place, well, you don't find things when you need them. And in some cases you find things when you do not need them! Sounds contradictory? Well, to give an example, suppose you are in the factory floor, looking up at a huge crane carrying a beam of iron (the kind that you see in a Tom & Jerry sequence) about twenty feet above you. This would hardly be the time when you would want to find the hammer that someone kept on top of the iron beam! Get the picture? So not keeping the hammer on the beam but keeping it neatly in the toolbox is 5S!

Although our company, specifically the sites in India, does not qualify in the manufacturing industry, but the management took a decision some time back that we want to follow 5S here - it helps everyone. So there was a request - right from the top - for the TIIMMC to make a movie to make employees aware of 5S. When I told some folks that we had to make a movie on 5S, some people sniggered ("You want to make movies? Well, make 5S movies!") while others wondered how anyone could make a movie on 5S, that people would actually watch!

Well, to make the long story short, we took up the challenge & made the movie. The movie has 5 parts. Chapters 1 to 4 were shown to folks in the company from Monday to Thursday in a certain week - and then on Friday, we showed the whole thing including the first four chapters, a documentary section explaining 5S, and finally an epilogue to the chapters. The movie contained a lot of footage from within the company especially in the documentary section, which we couldn't post outside.

So we came up with a version where the documentary section is removed, all company logos are blurred out, and identifiable names changed. With all these modifications, the movie was finally approved for posting on YouTube. So here it is. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News Update!!

Things have been going quite slow lately, and it has been some time since we made a movie. Here are a few updates on what we have been up to!

1. The last movie we made was Chaotic tendencies in March end. Unfortunately, this movie shows a lot of footage from within the company premises, and so cannot be shared in public! I intend to put together a sub-section of the movie, editing out the footage from within the company, and put it on Youtube. Haven't got around to working on this yet, though!!

2. I put together a short experimental clip (strictly re-using stock footage) featuring 'Matrix Rain' animation done by myself in Premiere Pro. This video is strictly for geeks!!

3. A Matter of Choice and Life's Good were screened in the Filmbooth Eight Film Festival in New Delhi on 18th September 2010. One may remember that A Matter of Choice was screened in CMS Vatavaran in 2009 as well. This movie is probably the TIIMMC movie which has reached the furthest!

4. We organised a couple of film-making workshops for folks from the company in the lines of Film Camp. My opinion about Film Camp remains unchanged however!

5. A Regular Sunday (working title) got scrapped after the first scene was shot!

6. On the individual achievements front, as all Bengalis will already know, Anupam of Tomar Shawhore and Tiebreaker fame is now a renowned singer, having shot to fame with his number "Amake amar moto thakte dao" from the superhit film 'Autograph' - Srijit Mukherji's directoral debut!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Life's Good

The lyrics were by Chandrika - the same girl referred to here. The concept & direction by Neeraj. In fact, apart from handling the camera in the first scene, I didn't contribute much to the video. Apart from the fact that my daughter starred in it! And my wife played the double for Sushma! And the first shot was in my house! And I did review Neeraj's editing, and give him some pointers! Okay - so even if I didn't contribute much, I was involved in the video from the beginning. So, this post is warranted!!

A very strong way of passing the message - this video was made mainly from an artistic point of view. Although I did disagree to some extent with the style of narration, I cannot but admire the overall effect. There is suspense, there is a buildup - and there is a final message with a crash & a bang. There are some very nice shots, although the light is poor & the camera is not up to the mark for the purpose. My favourites: the last shot & the first - in that order.

Well, watch, comment, and distribute (the link) as you wish!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The View From the Other Side

Amateur Moviemakers as we may be, we still go to the length of auditioning folks for roles in the movies we make. We usually have these sessions when we start any big project, but keep notes on all auditionees so that we can cast them in the smaller, more numerous projects as well. Although there usually is a lot of fun and banter in these sessions, the core team members (Vibhor, Neeraj & me usually) do take the whole thing very seriously since these decisions taken here have a large impact on the quality of the movies made later on.

Chandrika auditioned for a role in The Movie Which We Never Made... and was selected, a couple of weeks before she left Bangalore for Higher Studies! (She was only the first in a long line of people to follow!) I hadn't visited her blog for a few days lately, and yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to see a post on her auditioning session with us. It was very interesting for me to get a view of how the whole thing is perceived from the other side of the camera. Here's a link to her blog post on this.

For those who don't know Chandrika, she is also an amateur poet, as you can make out from her blog posts. The latest TIIMMC venture, directed by Neeraj, is based on a poetry written by her. Hopefully, I shall have a post on this movie here in a few days...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The People Tree

"Aaj shayad mujhe bukhar hai... chhuke dekh lo!!"

The dialogues were, of course, learnt, but the delivery of them rather admirable ... coming, as they were, from a fourth standard kid. Fazila Anjum is a smart kid, not shy of the camera at all. Not-withstanding the fact that she comes from a poor family, living in what can probably be defined as a slum. That was why she was chosen for the part she played...

The concept was Dale's, in discussion with the TIIF folks. I tried to get in an idea or two edge-wise, but these were beaten aside, mostly on a pretext of lack of time! Okay, I am being a bit critical here - I myself didn't have time to shoot these scenes. But I still maintain that my "Reservoir Dogs" scene would have made the video much more impact-ful! (It was supposed to be inserted just after the 'Saturday scene' not to break the suspense!! Right were the upbeat, sorta out-of-place music is!)

As I was saying, the concept was Dale's, so was the drive to make the video in the first place. (Amateur videos do need a lot of drive to be made - there are just too many excuses available for people to not find time to work on them! :) ) Most of the camera-work was Dale's except the last scene which was shot by Neeraj. (Including the impressive Zoom-in at the end - I like the timing of the whole shot - especially since it had to be done in one take.) Dale was the director as well.

Om was of course the sound specialist. All of Fazila Anjum & her mother's discussions were captured at source - and inserted raw with no cleaning up since there was no time! Given the final quality, Om did a good job. I did press the Sound 'Record' button once or twice when the TIIF folks (except Sylvia) spoke into the camera.

And since I did most of the editing, I did manage to contribute to (leave my mark on, if you may) the video! The cool thing about being the editor is that you are probably the only one who can over-rule the director! You may listen to her for most parts, but you can always get away with saying "No, I am going to do the cut this way, do what you may" once in a while! On this occassion, the point of contention was the theme music - the track at the beginning and the end of the video. Since that track is there on the final video, obviously I managed to convince Dale that this was the right way to go! Of course I had in my favour the fact that it was getting really late in the night, and therefore dangerous for her to return alone - and hence no more time to chose better music!!

One big mistake made: We didn't add the names of Fazila, her mother & her brother (the kid at the end) in the final credits.

As for the rest, well, form your own opinion - and do let us know!!

Monday, July 27, 2009


TIIMMC first came to be associated with the Foundation purely by coincidence! When I sent out the email asking for volunteers for making the Movie on the occassion of World Environment Day, Om forwarded the email to one of his ex-teammates who he knew to be interested in Environmentalism. That teammate turned out to be Sushma, subsequently the lead actress in 'A Matter of Choice' of course. Apart from Environmentalistic tendencies, she is also associated with the Foundation, and thus started the association!

The Foundation is very active in the cause of Child Education, and one of their frequent haunts is the hamlet of Islampura, right in the middle of Bangalore, a few kilometres from our office. Every year, the Foundation runs a fund raiser campaign, in order to be able to support the education of some of the poorer of the children from the slums of Islampura. Contributions are invited from people in the company. They were about to kick-off the event for this year, when TIIMMC & the Foundation first conversed. We thought it would be pretty cool if the MMC could help make a short advertisement video to go along with the Foundation announcement.

Dale was the main driving force behind the video. From the beginning it was (& was supposed to be) a very low key, unplanned affair. We had a chat one evening, and Dale took the camera to Islampura the next day, and captured a few shots of the kids speaking into the camera. I dumped the footage on Premier, cut & spliced them together & built a framework. A few reviews with the team, some captions added, background music copy-pasted from here & there... and it was done!

This year's funds Exceeded Expectations as the Foundation guys tell us! (Maybe even an 'Outstanding' in Harry Potter terminology!) Recession not-withstanding, they raised more money than ever before! Some of it even came from abroad - the video was hosted on the company's international news page & employees around the world saw it. A short sub-two-minutes video, costing one day of shoot, 2-3 days of editing time - causing a big impact on at least a few people's lives - this was indeed one of the most successful ventures of the Movie Making Club.

The Foundation did not want to publish the video as is because of some Legal concerns. So, in this version, I have replaced the logo of the Foundation with the TIIMMC one at the beginning, I have also removed the mentions of the Foundation from the Poster near the end of the video. Apart from that, this is almost as it was originally!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Back in the News!

If you want to view the video first, before reading the post, so that you can nod along & agree with me all the way, well, here’s the link!

The video is B-A-D! And here are the reasons why.
1. They spelled my name wrong in the credits!
2. They chose a pathetic name for the movie. What kind of a word is ‘Suckered’?
3. Even if one accepts ‘Suckered’ as a word and figures out what it means who gives a ‘suspense-movie’ a reveal-all name?
4. They skipped some shots which could have turned the video around. Essentially the editing is screwed up!

‘They’, of course, refers to the guys in Film Camp ( But let me start at the beginning.

It was summertime one year back. My wife was then in the UK. Vibhor wasn’t married yet. We had a lot of free time in the weekend & decided to spend one day trying out the Film Camp which we had been getting email invitations about. Dale was also free & game to join in.

We reached Lalbagh right on time, early Sunday morning, and duly paid the Rs.1000 as fees. (Money down the drain… but I am jumping the gun here. Back to the story then.) The group was quickly split into small teams of 4, one of the Film-campers (the instructors) were to accompany each team, and help them develop a short story, teach them how to shoot, essentially guide the team through the whole process.

Our guide (forgot his name) explained to us what a ‘Treatment’ for a movie was. We came up with a storyline, and went into developing the Storyboard. (I think we skipped ‘Screenplay’ completely, not sure.) The list of shots were decided & we started the shooting. At this point our instructor reeled off a few technical terms like ‘180 degree line’ & ‘Rule of thirds’. He then proceeded to explain each term, wrongly as we later found out. Once in a while, Sanjay Nambiar, probably the only person in the outfit who really knows about filmmaking, walked by taking pictures to publicise the camp. Of course he didn’t have much time to spare instructing us!

Shooting got over by twilight. We were promised that we could do the editing also on Final Cut (Macbook Pro!) In reality, we just had enough time to pick the shots & transfer the footage before we were shoo-ed off, with a promise that our instructor will complete the editing and post the movie on their website a week later.

The movie was indeed posted – in a completely garbled state, with key shots missing – three months and one abusive mail from Sanjay Nambiar later!

The fellow, Sanjay Nambiar, has a big attitude problem. To a simple query over email in the lines “We had participated in the Film Camp in Bangalore on 20th of April. We were told that the completed movies would be put up on the website in 2 weeks time. (Snaps from that day's camp were put on the Film Camp homepage also for a short while!) Any updates on these? It has been almost 7 weeks since!” Sanjay’s reply read: “Wait! All good things come to those who wait. And watch that tone when you write to me. I just taught you how to make a film, not idli-vada! Know anybody else who can do that for Rs.1000? The photos on the homepage are a courtesy. You can thank me for them. If you complain, you won't get shit!” [All quotes verbatim!]

It seems he has continued to extend further ‘courtesy’ to us! Shankara mentioned that he had seen an ad for some ‘Film something’ on Bangalore Times over the 4-5 July weekend with my picture in it! Given that I have not been to any other ‘Film something’, I am pretty sure it is the same picture that appeared on Film Camp website homepage. I couldn’t locate the newspapers, if you can, you may crosscheck if you care to!

I don’t remember the terms & conditions that I signed at the beginning of the camp, so I don’t know if they have a right to put my picture on the newspaper. But do take it from me, I am not advocating to anyone to join the camp! In fact, the only reason you should join the camp is if you have an extra Rs.1500 (they increased the price!) and want to spend a quite Sunday in Lalbagh, handling low end Panasonic Camcorders & switching ON a Macbook Pro. But if you want to learn anything on making movies, just look up the terms ‘Treatment’, ‘Storyboard’, ‘180 Degree Rule’ & ‘Rule of Thirds’ on Google, and you already know more than what you can possibly learn at that camp!