Youth in Action
Star Campus Home
What's the trend? Film Making!
Promiti Prova Chowdhury
Photos: Still shots from movies of Celebrating Life 2011
In 2003, in an interview given to IGN Movies (a leading site for movies), Writer-Director John Milius said “Everybody's a filmmaker today”. The response came out of discussion on 'ego needed to become a filmmaker'. Whatever the reason was, the statement of Milius is quite appropriate for the young people of Bangladesh today. But can just having a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera, crazy imagination and some really cool ideas be sufficient enough to become a film maker? Or perhaps, a good film maker? Well, no harm in doing it just for passion. But, why not take it to another level when you have the scope, especially when our troubled film industry is in need of some young energetic and dedicated film makers?
The industry is in need of makers with another requirement. That is, knowledge. Despite immense interest, many young boys and girls lack in capability in film making. To remove this dearth, 'Celebrating Life', a composite competition of film making, photography and lyrics writing, introduced a workshop on film making last year. This is an initiative of the Star Insight magazine of The Daily Star and Standard Chartered Bank. Last year, among 1200 applicants, 30 were considered eligible to take the workshop. Finally the workshop has brought out 30 incredibly talented, young and spirited film makers whose films are currently being screened at university campuses across the country.
Under the supervision of three renowned directors of the country--Amitabh Reza, Mezbaur Rahman Sumon and Nurul Alam Atique, they have come up with a total of 10 short films. These three personalities were the facilitators of the workshop. In the last month of the three months long workshop, the 15 finalists were divided into three groups, each group having five members under one facilitator.
The films present events of daily life in Dhaka city, paying much heed to details. With mostly new faces, the films are short, well scripted. Some of them hold a careful depiction of sexuality and deal with social taboos. On the other hand some are totally fictitious. For example, Bakshobondi, translated as 'A TV Virus' in English, production from the team of Mazbaur Rahman Sumon, shows a man who is carrying a television inside his body and cannot find a remote control to switch it off! Sukorno Shahed Dhiman, one of the members of this team says, “The idea came from an incident shared by one of our mates. One day he saw that some leaflets are being handed out in front of a mosque. It said that there was a woman who couldn't be buried when she died because her body became so heavy. She used to watch TV a lot. When the TV was lifted, her body also became lighter and both her and the TV were buried together. So the mosque authorities were trying to spread this message that watching TV is a sin and everybody should stay away from TV.” This idea was shared in the 'Script Writing and Idea Sharing' class during the workshop. They used to play a game of turning one story into another. While doing so, this story was reshaped and the script was written. After rewriting it several times the final output came in. But why the central character of this film carries a TV in his body? To know the answer, you have to watch the film in the ongoing screenings! Dhiman is a second year student of BBA under National University and comes from Khulna. He says that film making cannot be taught. A mentor can only motivate to think and show the way, and Sumon has done it with great aptitude.
Humaira Bilkis used to be a lecturer at the Department of Media and Communication at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB). Under the supervision of Amitabh Reza she has made a film named Lalbager Masud Rana. The central theme for this team was 'Dhaka Tomake Valobashi'. Humaira says, “In our country there is no proper institute for learning film making. We have some scattered workshops of five days or a week long. Most of them are like film appreciation courses rather than a proper film making workshop. So this workshop of Celebrating Life attracted me a lot. Not only it has mentors from national level, but it also gives us opportunity to bring out productions at the end. So some real work has been done.”
Humaira is currently working as a fully driven film maker. She suggests that to make good cinemas, students should watch movies a lot. Building a study circle and discussing films is a good idea. In this way, likeminded film enthusiasts can share thoughts and bring out something better. She adds, “Now everyone seems to have interest in film making and digital film making has become easier than before. So we do not have to worry about technology anymore, but we should work on generating better ideas and scripts.”
Another maker from the same group is Mahfuza Akter who is obtaining her Masters in Neurosurgery at Salimullah Medical College. What made her choose film making coming from such a different background? “I love watching films. My favourite directors are Ritwik Ghatak and Satyajit Ray. I used to write scripts and show my friends. It was my passion. Then thought, why not turn passion into profession?” says Mahfuza. Her film Joker Tel is about miraculous products that are sold blatantly at points inside Dhaka, causing a good amount of sound pollution. Like, medicines that will drag your desired woman in your life, keep your wife under your control, tablets that would protect you from road accidents and so on! She shares her experience, “You know, whenever I used to pass the crammed road of Farmgate, I used to think of making a film in these chaotic places. But they hardly let a woman come closer to the crowd. So I sent one of my male friends to get me some information!”
The young filmmakers with the mentors and organisers of the event., Photo: The Daily Star
Mahfuza adds, “In my first production I have worked with a great actor like Shatabdi Wadud. He cooperated a lot. From my mentor I have learnt that a good director is able to identify the moment when artist enters into character. After shooting, when Amitabh told to cut some scenes, I felt really bad, but then I realised that it is for the better. These are the subtle things that one may learn from the workshop.”
Six productions have been made from the group headed by Nurul Alam Atique. Among the members of this team, Shafiq Sernibat Shaown is a Masters student of Sociology at University of Dhaka (DU). He made a short fiction called '2B'. According to Shaown, film is a combination of all art forms. He got a grip of the art of visualisation through this workshop.
One of the facilitators, Mezbaur Rahman Sumon believes that the ten newly blossomed makers have a long way to go. “My experience of working with these youngsters was great. I feel, if they keep working professionally they can remove all the frustrations regarding Bangladeshi film industry.” He also adds, “There is no concrete theory of becoming a good film maker. We usually suggest watching good movies and assisting good makers to learn. But there is no guarantee that only by doing these, one will go a long way. It totally depends on how one keeps oneself updated. He has to pay heed to the detail of occurrences surrounding him, know the lifestyle of people in his society, listen to music, read books and research online. Only by keeping him or herself always prepared, one can emerge as a good film maker,”
Rafi Hossain, the Festival Coordinator of Celebrating life shares, “Unlike before, nowadays the young crowd or more particularly students have great interest in film making and they want to become film makers rather than models or actors. I view this trend very positively. Ultimately the good works will come from the youth. So to encourage them, we are screening these ten films at the universities. It not only entertains them, but also facilitates a productive interaction on films.”
So far in this month, the 'Celebrating Life Film Screening and Photo Exhibition' has been arranged at IUB and Shanto-Mariam Institute of Creative Technology (SMUCT). The upcoming screenings will be held at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), Stamford University, Dhaka University, East West University, BRAC University, Jahangirnagar University and universities outside Dhaka.
This year the theme for Celebrating Life is 'Celebrating the Youth of Bangladesh'. The deadline for submitting application is June 30, 2012 (Log on to www.celebratinglifebd.com to get more details). More excitingly, this year's film making workshop participants will make a full length feature film under the guidance of acclaimed movie director Ritoparno Ghosh. So if you really feel that you have the three Ps: passion, patience and perseverance, then do give a shot!