Aniket Dasgupta has made a few short films and just finished a feature length documentary. Read on to know more about this young filmmaker.
Tell us about your life journey in brief?
My life has been brief. I have been on this planet for about 23 years now and I have always liked making up stories. When I was a kid, I just refused to let the boredom of a middle class Bangalorean life get to me. I would actually come up with complex story arcs and character origins just like in the comics for myself. Some of which even my friends fell for. My parents didn’t have a cable connection but we did have an enormous VHS collection. And I watched an entire movie almost everyday except when I had exams or when I was punished.
I grew up wanting to make aeroplanes and cars and spaceships. Not because I cared about science but because comic books and movies made me believe I could. But then the realities of life told me that I needed to be good at math. Something I’ll never be good at. I can tell you all the capitals of the Indian states after 12 beers but I can’t do calculus to save my life. My parents realised both of these post my board exams and I ended up wanting to be a lawyer. Which I ditched to pursue a career in media.
What prompted you to become a filmmaker?
I started writing and co-directing YouTube videos with my friend Kenneth Sebastian when I was 16, that was 7 years ago (this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yo1NqWCVTZw). Back then it was for fun but today Kenneth is a successful stand up comic and YouTuber and I still shoot a lot of his videos. It was YouTube that started it off. And I discovered a bunch of channels on YouTube that taught filmmaking. So that’s where my film education began.
You become a filmmaker the moment you decide to make a film. But I realised I don’t have too many people to help me out in the early days. So I started teaching myself just about anything that would help me make a better film.
Tell us about your team, if you have?
There are two people who are constant in my filmmaking process. The first one is my co-conspirator Swathi Sethumadhavan. Swathi and I write, direct and edit films together. And when she’s not directing, she’s an amazing producer – not the money kind, but the ones that can actually get a film made. We co-founded a production company named High Ninja Media. The second person is my buddy Rajdip Ray, he is my springboard for ideas – feedback is very important in an art form and Rajdip puts it in a constructive manner.
Apart from these two there are a few collaborators who we work from time to time like Sounak Roy, who has shot two of my films. The thing is we work with very limited budgets – so we all end up taking up multiple roles. Here are a bunch of people I made my last short film with and also the process- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36xjmZiM1Go
How many/ What kind of movies you have made?
I have made a few short films and I just finished a feature length documentary (The Other Way). I am currently working on a fiction web-series and a fiction feature film. I am a filmmaker, what kinds of films isn’t really a question. But yes, I don’t see myself directing an over dramatic and brainless bollywood film.
What is your dream/ vision?
I’d lie if I say that I don’t want to make a big film and live the high life. Every filmmaker wants to make his or her big film. Truth be told, films in our country are being produced depending on what the audience consumes. Which is true elsewhere as well. But there needs to be a space for independent films that have a distinct voice. In the west, you have cult festivals like SXSW, Slamdance, Sundance, even someone like Christopher Nolan was discovered at Slamdance, here it’s not the same.
So with all of that in mind, my dream is to be able to make films, without having to sell my kidney.
What difficulties you face as an independent filmmaker?
Funding. That’s one big problem. There are tons of talented people around me but there aren’t enough funds.
In India films are looked at as pure business decisions. And the kind of money that is expected in returns can only be earned if the films appeal to the lowest common denominator in the audience. That’s why smart directors end up making religiously dumb films. And that dumbs down the audiences further, because the people who want to watch a good film are on torrents and downloading what they want to watch. And that starts a never ending cycle of the films and audiences getting dumber and dumber.
Any fun/ memorable incident?
Too many to list. But the most memorable one was when we were really broke and had to take local trains in Mumbai with a few bags of equipment. We were trying to find the ticket counter at Andheri station and the guy we asked for directions conned us. He was a railway official named VK Singh and he actually fined us for not having tickets.
What advice you’d like to give to someone who is interested/newbie in filmmaking?
Ask yourself a simple question? Why filmmaking? That should answer all your questions.
Anything else you’d like to share?
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