Monday, April 25, 2011

why movies will always cost if we continue to use traditional sources of distribution ?!

Earlier movie-making was expensive. So people made lesser movies or rather lesser people made movies. Hence the marketing cost was lower as we had lesser issues of differentiating our movies with other's movies. Or lesser work to establish our brand equity to attract eyeballs. Also you needed to be part of the system to make the movies.

Now since the digital technology has become cheaper, and more portable, people can use videos to shoot guerilla take new non-actors and substantially bring down the cost of making a film.
However the cost of making movie has gone low not just for you but for 1000 others. So they all will make movies. So now the problem is finding an avenue to showcase the film.

Now with low cost films, we neednot stick to traditional medium of distribution.  So the question is - are we ready for non-traditional mediums of movie distribution ? Online, DVD, TV ? But the original problem of having an initial critical mass is still there.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


When I was 10 years old I copied a painting and stuck (with fevicol) on the walls of our living room - much to everyone's horror. As I grew up, I later found out that I had reproduced one of the million reproductions of Matisse below.
I was later reintroduced to Matisse by Fareeda when I picked up a book that contained all Matisse paintings in the WWI library. I had taken that book and reissued it weeks after weeks looking at his paintings. The library guys later made it a reference book (wtf) and I had all my plans to steal it before I left college. I still haven't been able to buy that book (out of stock in amazon :( ) or for that matter steal it :).

Matisse had family business of textile industry. He grew up amidst bright colors. His earlier work had all the details of the contemporary painter but later he started making detail free clutter free images. Esp. after his tryst with death after a cancer operation, he became bolder with his art forms hardly cared about the critics and developed his inimitable style. He took the post impressionistic style of painting to another level and we still use his paintings, bright colors, color combinations and style in our day to day life.
Ipod and Matisse

Infact good example is ipod ads and various ipod colors themselves. Here on the left  is an image of ipod advertisement and on the right is one of the Matisse works (the read dot is his heart).
The olympic logos 2012 and 2016 Rio ones are inspired by matisse paintings.

On left are matisse paintings  (circle of Life and the Snail) and on right are olympic logos of 2016 and 2012.

Incidentally Matisse paintings were not well-received by critics. But he found his patron in a wealthy Russian textile magnet who bought most of his paintings. He had told matisse: "These people don't respect you, but the future is all yours".
Lots of contemporary prints, color combinations in textile industry are inspired by Matisse's choice of colors in his paintings.

Colors: For matisse colors were emotions and he felt that colors should be depicted in a harmony. They should be used the way notes are used in music - create a visual orchestra. He was called a "Fauve" - a wild beast as he used extremely bright colors and not used the color from the real world. For him his paintings were his emotional response of a real-life visual. His choice of colors were lavish- brighter and shinier than any colors seen before his time. He always worked with a color wheel  - started off with Yellow Blue and moved around the wheel - choosing simple  combinations all right opposite each other or combination of 3 that forms isosceles traingle to more complex ones. Anyone who knows basic color theory today knows that these opposite colors (in right proportion)  cancel eachother in a way that their net effect on the eyes is of "grey". The grey color is soothing to the eyes and hence eyes can stay on them for longer. Hence all the matisse paintings had that stay. He himself said that sometimes to balance the painting totally he would externally use "white and black" that would balance his colors if they themselves did't balance each other. Matisse also used lots of secondary and tertiary colors apart from primary colors.
Color wheel RGB
One of my fav matisse painting

Patterns: Matisse was well travelled and took influences from various traditional art forms - he  was greatly influenced by Russian folk-art forms and  Islamic art forms (spending time in Morocco).

 He also started having interest in human figures and the space they are set in.

Matisse loved the  bright clutter of overtly furnished rooms, patterns in the room created a parallel complete world in each of his paintings.                                                   
Also gradually he started forsaking the idea of 3-dimensionality and treated his painting like flattened space replete with decorative objects.
Matisse Scissors

In my house I have two replicas of matisse paintings. Apart from that I have reproduced two of his paintings. One I have given to my brother and other is with me.
Reproduction with Asim
Reproduction with me

Implications in production design:
Matisse paintings have a richness of their own. And they come from choice of colors, color combinations and patterns used within the painting. We can use them as reference while choosing and designing our production design elements. Use tested combinations and gradually learn to start expementing on our own.
The other thing is the "matisse finish" on walls. A block of red wall will always look jarring to the eyes but if the finish is  like that of Matisse's walls - it is captured beautifully on camera (for example in above painting - the red of the floor has a different finish - he uses multiple adjoining colors to have that finish).
I sometime call it the "choona finish" that they have in walls.
However to have our films look like Matisse if we need to have massive production design and other controls on the environment we are shooting in. Sometimes this translates into higher budget.  So if we are going too indie - we cannot use that 100% control but we can still choose some of the elements like costume colors etc that helps us give our products a "little better than reality" finish (that is if one wants).
Below are some of the  frames of the 3 short films I have made and one can clearly see the matisse influence I had. Amongst all our biggest challenge was Uss Paar as we didn't have the control on the color of the station. But we tried to play with yellow(essentially brown) blue.

Shiva is the ultimate yellow blue God
An extra detailing on curtain and the candles adds details to the frame

The red (instead of white) boat on greenish water looks better
The classical red green frame. Added blue to decrease red
The yellow uniform - imagine if it was blue

Notice the matisse finish on the walls and Tina's dress color. Also a block of red just to offset too much green on the frame

We had specific colors for sarees too but couldn't manage them in timehowever a little color in the form of balloons adds the playfullness.

Purple and red hue to make the place look sensual

Inspite of being a painter, his last work was a chapel where he did lots of  glasswork and it is in Venice. I went to Venice and didn't know about the chapel  and hence didn't visit it. So you know how much angry with myself I am! Here is the glass work - "Tree of life" by matisse.

Matisse was an atheist but he still made the chapel for his nurse who had turned a nun. 
He had once famously said - "I believe in God only when I do my work !" 

Henri Matisse

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Academics versus real life

I think our educational system stresses a lot on individual success. Pitching each person against another. The whole ranking system rewards individuals. Most of the time even preps for exams are done individually. This orients us differently as compared to what is required  at the real world. The real world favors team players more. It is important that team wins. Personal goals are subset of team goals.  Except sports period nothing else in school gives basic teaching of working in a group.

Just a thought off my head.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Top moment of the day

I was contacted by a publisher who wants to add my IIT thesis on computational grids (which was published in an IEEE journal)  in his book :)

So my film Uss Paar was shown at Ahmedabad too!! And the great feeling is that so many messages in my facebook inbox after that from the students!!! Some people asking about film and others about "wrestling woods" (they misspelled whistling woods) :).

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


I just have huge respect for directors who manage to create mood successfully. For me - WKW will remain the master of mood creators with his original frames and beautiful moments. Grandeur and beauty. The power of cinema. Infact whatever I know of mood creation I have learnt from him. He is my guru. It's a shame they dont cover him in film school classes. Anyone who has seen Reflections  (my 16 mm short fiction) would easily tell my WKW influence.

Amongst his various films, I have really enjoyed 2046. Also watching this movie was my first meeting with WKW. And somewhere I feel a strange deep connect with his movies. Lots of my current colleagues don't seem to agree with me when I go absolutely ga-ga over WKW stuff. Since his movies are not very obviously plot driven, lots of people face difficulties in engaging in them. 2046 and "In the Mood for Love" should be seen together to understand them. Infact if I ever do a screening of reference movies with my cinematographer before we dive into shot breakdown - one of WKW's movies is always on the list regardless of the subject  :).

I clearly remember  2008/or early 2009 where almost for an entire week, I was in full trance because i had seen 2046. I haven't seen it since then because my inability to get out of it and reengage in the real world was frustrating me. I had locked myself in home and just kept playing this movie all week. (I was also doing the shot breakdown of my film Reflections in that week.) I was just heart broken that I might never be able to make a movie like this and this had pushed me in some sort of depression. Even my zombie husband would wonder what's wrong with me. So I had to shun it.

But today, just as one remembers an old friend, I randomly remembered this movie again.

Here is it's horrible quality trailer that i got on youtube. Still the trailer worth watching. This movie is my ultimate inspiration.