Selfie-Cinematography : Film-making under lockdown

Posted: April 20, 2020 in Uncategorized

As India went under a complete lockdown to resist the COVID-19 pandemic, I was trapped in my rented room in the city of Bhubaneswar, and there was no way I could travel back to Kolkata. Staying with myself has never been boring. In fact, I enjoy my company more than anyone else’s. Yet, situation was such that the daily news continuously scared us all, and it continues to do so.

To have a room is a privilege. Thousands of migrant workers are all over the news articles, and for very tragic reasons. Under the privilege of being able to rent a 16 feet x 10 feet room, I decided to make the most of this lockdown. My ongoing films are all on hold, and I don’t know when I can resume work. It’s very disturbing because when I’m in the making of a film, I’m completely into it mentally, in my sleep and in my wakefulness. If the span increases, it greatly upsets me. I am not one of those filmmakers who note down every aspect and rigidly follow a scripted idea. My film-making is ever-evolving. I start somewhere, and end up somewhere else. The entire span in between is an active creative process. To overcome the situation, I had to invest my mind somewhere else. I thought it’s the best time to make a film inside my room, with just me and my mind playing a part. I called up the very talented musician – Kisaloy Roy, who has composed music in almost all my films, but is hugely underrated for reasons unknown. He asked me whether it’s a short film. I said – “No, I want to make a feature film”. He obliged and started working closely with me, composing psychedelic tracks. Meanwhile I was exploring everything I can with the camera. I was the only subject. And I was the only person in my room. How will I shoot myself? Placing the camera on a tripod? Only still frames? No, static frames in static context will not work. The only way I found was selfie-cinematography.

I took my mobile and started using the selfie camera to shoot myself. Some visuals were grainy. It excited me even more. The noise or the grains added perfect spices to the psychedelia I wanted to create. Thus I jumped into selfie-cinematography. I started loving it. Sometimes with mobile, sometimes with my Gopro and sometimes with my DSLR. All day, all night, I was looking for interesting shots. The extreme heat in Odisha disrupts my sleep every night. Of course, I’m not an AC guy. I often wake up in the midnight and take a shower. So I often shot some scenes around midnight.

Parallel to shooting, I started editing as well, as Kisaloy started sending his musical arrangements. The film was shaping up well (in accordance to my taste). Ultimately the timeline was ready. I captured my voice on the mobile itself, including a RAP which I performed for the first time.

Within 20 days, ‘Made in Isolation’ was ready. It’s around 1 hr and 15 mins long. We launched the trailer as well (link below). Though I’m quite excited about the outcome, I don’t know how viewers are going to react to this film. But what it taught me is immensely important. My film-making didn’t start in a luxurious way, and till today I do not have the luxury which other filmmakers enjoy. My film-making is always under restrictions and adverse situations. Adversity teaches me every time. This time, the COVID-19 lockdown taught me selfie-cinematography.

Here’s the trailer of ‘Made in Isolation’.

Still_02

(A still from the film. This shot too, was captured as selfie-cinematography)

Trailer – Made in Isolation

 

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