Friday, December 18, 2009

Lights. . Camera. . Action!

It's been a while. . .
I know I've shouldn't have kept you waiting. . .
But it's worth the wait. . . (I hope!)

Day and Date: A hot summer day in 2008. In fact, it was the hottest day that summer.

Location: Ushodaya junction, Visakhapatnam.

Scene: A Police officer trying to catch a fleeing thug.

K Chaitanya, a.k.a. K.C. as the Police officer.
Chandramouli Daga, a.k.a. Mouli as the fleeing thug.

It was the first time I was going to shoot a film. Our director/producer/story writer, Mouli worked hard in the last few months to put together the team of people who were now part of our unnamed film project (later named as “In the End”). The people present that day were; Me, Mouli, K.C., Abhiram and Jonah.

I was pretty excited in spite of the scorching sun. I bet everyone else was as excited as I was. The scene had to take place on four houses which had almost connecting roof tops. Yes baby, we are talking about park over.

The scene went something like this. Mouli, the thug enters on his Avenger and parks his bike; and starts walking towards the pre-planned place where he has to collect something. (Since he is the bad guy, understood that it is something illegal) As he reaches the place and awaits the delivery, he is shocked by the sudden appearance of a police officer with a gun (Of course, you need a gun!). Even as Mouli tries to convince the Officer that he is after the wrong guy, he starts running; Henceforth beginning the chase.

The first part of the whole shooting business was to convince the people living in those houses to give us permission to shoot. We went to them; tried to convinced them, coaxed them, confused them and did whatever possible. Though most of them agreed readily, happy that their house is going to appear in a movie, no matter how trivial, we had one old man, who was not in a mood to give permission that easily.

Man (In a strict voice): What are you shooting?

We (Sincerely): Sir, we are shooting a movie for a college project (Of course, bull shit!)

Man (Suspiciously): What project?

We (Intelligently): It is actually a Movie making competition sir. We are taking part in that. (Trying to confuse him)

Man (Confusedly): You have permission from your principal?

We (Again, Sincerely): Of course sir! (As if we really asked anyone!)

Man (Not-quite-convinced): Show me the permission letter.

We (Faces screwed up in a pleading/pathetic way): Actually, we didn’t get it sir. We were in a hurry since the last day is fast approaching. If good people like you don’t help us, how will we do it sir?

Man (Falling for it): Will you be careful and not break/damage anything?

We (Sincere expression returning, in unison): Of course sir!

Man: OK. You can shoot then. But in case anything is damaged. . . (Wagging a wrinkled finger at us)


Man (Pleased): Go ahead. All the best!

We then got on top of a three floor building opposite to these houses like agents from a Bond movie as we didn’t have permission to use those roofs. Mouli started explaining me the scene with so much fervor and intensity that, I was too scared even to move (the thought was that, he would beat me up if I did). He screwed his eyes in concentration and made a frame with his hands and pointed to the road from the roof top.

Mouli (His tone grave and precise): I will enter the scene from a few hundred feet away from the place I’d stop. You have to keep me in the frame and follow me until I stop. Then, capture me walking till I disappear into the steps of the first house. Then shift the frame down and capture K.C. coming from this building that we are standing on currently.

Me (Standing in attention, Hands folded): Mm Hmm . . . (Nodding furiously)

Mouli: Next scene, we will shift to the houses where we begin the park over. (At the mention of the word park over, he gets excited and starts bouncing up and down) Let’s do it baby! (Pokes me in the ribs). I’ll give a missed call once I start. You start recording then.

Me (Excited as well, but nothing compared to Mouli): Yeah, let’s do it.

Next, Mouli starts on his bike after giving us the missed call. I start recording. Sadly, there is another guy on a similar Avenger. I follow him till half way. Abhiram spots the mistake and points to the direction in which Mouli is coming. Damn, we had to do a retake! Mouli, who remains a sport for a second shot on any given day, agreed without much ado and I spotted him this time, spot on. I was elated on finishing my first shot on a movie shoot. Cheers. But, the day had just begun and the experience of shooting movies also had just begun.

We toiled the rest of the morning till late afternoon, forgetting trivial things like lunch and tan. I had to run around holding our camera for the film, a 5.0 Mega pixel canon powershot camera. Yes, you read it right; we were shooting with a digital camera. Cool, isn’t it? Though it records the sound of wind and shakes, for people who think the quality of the movie would be like that of a security CC TV camera, I would challenge them to say the same after they see our movie.

Back to business, Mouli and K.C. did a pretty awesome job for a park over considering that all of were armatures with this stuff. (I am not giving a self-compliment but this is what people told us) Mouli and K.C. jumped roofs while I crouched and slouched in awkward positions to make sure that I got the angle in the director’s mind as he wanted. : ) after finishing the shoot which ended with the bad guy a.k.a Mouli successfully escaping the police, almost every scene took three or four retakes. We were completely exhausted and out of breath by then. As we huddled up at the place where we parked our bikes, the old timer from the morning came back.

Man: Finished?

All of us in unison: Yes sir! Thanks a lot.

Man: Which college did you say you people were from?

All of us, again: MVGR College sir!

Man: Yeah! I know your principal pretty well, actually when I was working at some place. . .

He started ranting off on some memories of his golden young days as we continued dripping sweat. The hunger was fast catching up. With perfect synchronization, me and Mouli got onto our respective knees and let out a grunt of pain and tiredness, pretty much audible to everyone. The old man caught the signal pretty fast.

Man: Right then, all the best for your movie. Hope it turns out the way you want it to be.

All of us in unison: Thank you sir!

As the old man left us, we shared hi-fis and started on our way back to our respective homes. This was the beginning for many more to follow. This was only the beginning. : )