An intensive, informative and interactive WWI Masterclass with the team of the film – Airlift, helped WWI students to understand various nuances involved in the making of a film. At the session, we had the Director of the film – Raja Menon, Cinematographer – Priya Seth, Editor – Hemanti Sarkar, Production Designer – Mustafa Stationwala, Associate Director – Udai Singh Pawar, and Chief Assistant Cinematographer & 2nd unit Director of Photography, also a WWI alumnus – Sajid Sanwari, to share their experiences of working on this project. This session gave our students the clarity on the role of each department involved to portray a film with an honest intention and working towards a common objective of telling the story in its truest form.
Raja Menon shared his views on how ‘following a process’, importance on pre-production charting and planning, and having regular and intensive discussion with all the crew members, helps in being aligned to the common vision and the only objective of taking a story from script to screen with all honesty. He said, “It is imperative for each crew member to understand the roles of all the departments involved to be able to work in-sync and ensure a smooth flow of operation, while working in a limited timeframe and budget.”
Priya Seth, the Cinematographer, while explaining where she drew references from, for the look and feel of the film, said, the only reference for her was the story, and she worked with an objective to make the story look real and relatable. Inspiration, she said, is something that one needs to draw by understanding what the film wants to convey and then thinking how creatively it can be portrayed without hindering the essence of the story.
While talking about the roles of the crew members in a department and highlighting the WWI alumni, Sajid Sanwari’s contribution to the film as the 1st Assistant Cinematographer (AC), she said that the AC should have equal clarity in what the unit is trying to achieve as a whole and then work with the crew members in the department, to relentlessly keep contributing with technical understanding and creative brilliance. She appreciated Sajid’s understanding of the technicalities and the responsibility he ably took as the first Assistant Cinematographer in the crew.
Sajid, while sharing his experience as a member in the crew, said, “trust of the senior crew members, clarity on what needs to be achieved to make the film look & feel a certain way, helped me to deliver spontaneously.”
Hemanti Sarkar, while speaking about being involved as the Editor in this project, said, that “as an Editor my job was to deliver a film without disrupting the only motive of staying true to the story. The cuts were done in a way which would make the story flow, while also intriguing the viewers to think and thus feel involved.”
The Production Designer, Mustafa Stationwala, shared a very valid point that would help one enhance the ‘relatable factor’ of the film as well as adding to the flow of the film, he said, ‘I didn’t want to glamorize the frame. Elements on screen should just help take the narrative forward.’
A very interesting aspect as mentioned by the Director, Raja Menon, was a word of inspiration for our students and helped them to understand the level of dedication, involvement and hard work required to make a film. He said, ‘from script to screen, the makers need to live with the idea, to be able to visualize the story holistically.’
He also mentioned that “the first image of your film is the strongest image that the audience connects with, and thus should be strategically showcased in teasers and trailers. This is the core element that helps to build expectation and repute of a particular film among the audience, thus converting a potential audience to an actual audience that further adds to the business graph of a film.”
Overall, a very insightful session, where our students also got their queries answered on various aspects of filmmaking from the crew of one of the most successful film of the year 2016.