Ishan Sharma who is an engineer but his passion lies in filmmaking. Watching films is like fever to him. Read on to know more about him.
Tell us about your life journey in brief?
Well, I feel like I have spent half my life in an engineering college, and the other half in a Kubrick film. I spent the early years of my life in various places in India including Bombay, Ahmedabad, Dhanbad, and Varanasi before finally coming back to Delhi, where I spent the better years of my life in St. Columba’s and the others in an Egg. College. Somewhere in school, I picked up a guitar, started writing songs – which slowly expanded into writing short stories, poetry and of course, watching films. Watching films was like a fever; I had to watch everything and anything that I could access. It was a fever then, now it’s a part of me.
What prompted you to become a filmmaker?
I have always loved films- good films, bad films, stupid films, intelligent films; but the first time I experienced real cinema was on my sixteenth birthday when one of my unemployed uncles decided to gift me a cheap DVD rip of two of his favorite films.
The first was Pulp Fiction.
The second was A Clockwork Orange.
“Till you are old enough to drink, you have to survive on this”, he told me later.
Good films entertain you. Good cinema transcends you. You expose a sixteen-year-old kid to that kind of power and you know you have got him hooked for life. I was transfixed, shocked, and in awe of what I’d seen. That is when I decided this is what I want to do. Tell stories, in frames, in pictures, in transitions, with music, with colors, with people, with rivers. Filmmaking combines everything that I love- stories, poems, music, pictures.
Tell us about your team, if you have?
I have continuously worked with Anurag Verma, who’s another young writer-filmmaker from FTII. He has written the scripts of all my films till now, and is also the co-director of my latest film, “The Day He Sleeps”. Raju Biswas, another talented cinematographer from FTII, shot TDHS.
How many/ What kind of movies you have made?
Till now, I have made films themed on the subject of urban isolation. I love using spaces, as characters in my films, so for me, the city I shoot in, are as important as the actors themselves. For “The Day He Sleeps”, we shot in tiny, unexplored havelis of Rajasthan and crowded places in Delhi, all in natural lighting, to create the desired mood. You can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP56riemWko
What is your dream/ vision?
My dream project is a crime noir-film based in 40’s Rajasthan. As independent film fundings go, I should be able to raise money for it by the time I’m 60.
What difficulties you face as an independent filmmaker?
I suppose the most difficult part of Independent Filmmaking is raising funds. For a short film of 45 minutes, and a measly fund of 1 lakh rupees – we were ultimately forced to go to friends and family. But crowdfunding is an interesting option now, and Independent filmmakers should exploit it as much as possible. Just remember, no Indian is going to part with their money unless the idea is fantastic, and the presentation wildly interesting.
Any fun/ memorable incident?
Indie filmmakers have no money at no point. And I am no exception to that rule. While shooting for “The Day He Sleeps”, we were scheduled to arrive in Rajasthan with x amount of money for production. Equipment was booked, hotel rooms had been arranged and our entire crew had arrived. But the money trail went blank, as it often does in film productions. We were ready to shoot in two hours and we had no money. By no money I mean, not enough money to even buy breakfast for the entire crew or to go back to Delhi. In two hours, thanks to two buddies back in Delhi, we had two new producers on board, and also enough money to complete the shoot. But those couple of hours, we felt like life had no meaning. It’s just a mad mixture of chaos and laughter, much like the films we love. So remember- Independent filmmaking can be painfully testing or wildly exhilarating, but in most cases, it’s both.
What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested/newbee in filmmaking?
If you are interested in filmmaking, watch films. Not just the ones that are shown to you, but the ones that have something to say and are rarely shown. Pick up a camera and make your own film, no matter how bad it is. Before you begin to seriously consider the idea of being a filmmaker, join a film course or a film school, and assist in a feature film production. If you survive all this, and still love filmmaking – you should go see a shrink. And make films.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I run a community of Independent filmmakers and video artists in Delhi called The Dilli Blues Project. To know more about us, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/dilliblues. I also write a flash fiction blog, which contains deeply personal writings – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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