As producers, we are very excited that our first short film “Vishwamitri Villas” is ready and submitted to film festivals. We are deeply humbled to be nominated as a finalist for “Best Experimental Film” at the Spring 2022 edition of (AltFF) Alternative Film Festival.
Our Vishwamitri Villas is a long short- an experimental improvised film, directed by Kristine Landon-Smith, with music by Felix Cross, edited by Sabyasachi Bhattacharjee, and enacted by 16 young actors of 12 to 17 years of age. The film is inclusive with deaf and hearing actors, communicating in Hindi, Gujarati, English and Indian Sign Language, with subtitles in English and Hindi.
This journey of making a short film has been an interesting learning for us. We’ve discovered that short films don’t necessarily mean shorter processes in film making. The ideation and planning during pre-production, the shoot and processes in production, and technical aspects of post-production can be just as detailed and time consuming as in a feature film.
From ideation to the film being ready has taken us nearly 10 months, and we now have the short film “Vishwamitri Villas” and a documentary “The Making of Vishwamitri Villas”.
“Vishwamitri Villas” has been an intricate exercise in communication, with interpreters and translators on board, to assist our Director and Assistant Directors. It was truly a team effort, with everyone having clearly assigned roles in synchronized harmony. The challenges were immense when shooting in multiple languages, and with the added angle of our Director not knowing Hindi, Gujarati or Indian Sign Language, it became even more intense. However this was handled effortlessly by our interpreters and translaters, proving that (lack of) language isn’t a barrier.
Using Zoom to record all the sessions, as the film was shot during the pandemic enforced lockdown, meant that the internet played an important role in the film making process. “Am I audible?”, “You are on mute” and “Can you put on your video?” became part of our lexicon, until everyone got used to shooting on Zoom and overcame technical issues. Being an improvised film, the Director devised a series of improvisations for the young actors to create their characters, and recorded their interactions. The actors’ joy in creating their own dialogues translated into honest and intimate conversations between the characters on film.
The Music Composer created haunting melodies using the harmonica with Indian melody, to reflect the loneliness caused by the pandemic. The music complements and completes the film, filling silences with emotion.
Editing the film, choosing appropriate vignettes from lengthy Zoom recordings to achieve a delicate balance of all the characters’ stories, required focus and meticulous eye for detail. The Director and Editor worked closely across 2 contintents to pull it off, and have created a subtle, gently nuanced, black and white film.
We also decided to make a documentary “The Making of Vishwamitri Villas” which delves into the creative thought and innovative processes behind the short film. It has interviews with the director, music composer, young actors, and producers, weaved with actual vignettes of the film and their Zoom session recordings. Directed and edited by Natashja Rathore, cinematography by Harry Baker in London and Prachi Chandarana in Vadodara, with music again by Felix Cross, the documentary aptly tells the story within the story, capturing 10 months of the film journey into 10 minutes of film.
Creating the poster for “Vishwamitri Villas” took time with our team comprising a visual designer, an artist and a graphic designer on board, working on designing the right visual to represent the film. With many creative ideas and innumerable discussions, the team honed in on a design that met everyones approval. Voila, our short film now has a poster which we are all proud of.
As we know, all good things take time.
Having been involved at every stage of “Vishwamitri Villas” and “The Making of Vishwamitri Villas” we can vouch that there are no short cuts to making a good short film.