independent

Super/Comical

The 48-Hour Film Project is an annual film-making competition that happens every year all over the world. Participants have to make a short film in the span of 48 hours, based around a specific theme and dialogue that changes every year. Once while exploring the vast depths of the Internet, I came across their website. It also happens in Delhi every year, which got me a little interested. But I didn't really do much about it.

Fast forward two years later, A friend of a friend was looking for someone to make music for their film entry for the very same competition. The first person my friend thought of, was me and I was more than delighted to come aboard to work with a team of film-makers that call themselves Celluloid Drapers.

I was contacted briefly on the phone by a guy who asked me if it was possible for me to work on their movie. Since the competition hadn't started, he didn't really have an idea about what kind of movie it was going to be and where it would take us, but he asked me if I was in for the ride and I said yes. Simply because the best things in life are usually the unexpected ones.

 
 

On the day the competition started, Most of the details I got were hazy and rough to say the least. I was told it was a superhero movie, and probably the last thing I expected to happen. Superhero movies are cheesy. And usually mostly fluff (Superman, Batman case in point), so I was kind of, not so sure but I had to continue as it seemed to be a challenge.

The good and the extremely bad thing about staying up an entire night working an obscure idea you've been told and dictated on the phone while you were probably half-asleep is the fact that you never know know what might happen the next day. Good things or bad things? Usually it's the latter, and that's what I realised the hard way later on.

 
 

I had created a mindset where the movie was supposed to actually be serious but it ended up being quite the opposite, A last-minute change they said. On the day of the submission, I ended up at the team's base where everybody was huddled up in a room - bed and rug, intact. Apparently the idea changed right in the morning during the day of submission. It was now a comedy. Slow clap.

Had to scratch off the entire four tracks I made and create everything from scratch on the spot. It was quite a hard thing to do, as I had no keyboard and MIDI controller, the entire score was created with the pencil tool on a piano roll, as ridiculous as it sounds, doing something like that does give you a new perspective of making music. You don't always need fancy keyboards or equipments. All you need is a vision and a sense of what sounds good what doesn't.

We slaved throughout the day and finished up the entire movie, it was a relief to finish it about a couple of hours before the deadline of submission.

Hopefully, we'll win.

P.S. : Important Update. 'JEP2MAN', The film entry for The 48-Hour Film Project by Celluloid Drapers won three awards.

  • 2nd Runners Up, Best Film
  • Best Sound Design (tie)
  • Audience Award
 
 

Learning To Fly

While I was hard at work with my other projects, I got a mail from a bunch of NIFT students that wanted me to work on one track for their part-art part-fantasy movie about a girl trying to discover herself. While, normally I would have said no, there was something a little interesting about their concept which seemed a little like 'Alice in Wonderland' to me. Who doesn't love a good fantasy story?

They sent me a rough script and I decided to start imagining what the soundtrack would sound like. It seemed more like the kind of movie that would probably fit better with an acoustic guitar-playing dreamy singer-songwriter strumming and cooing his way to eternity. But I looked at my previous work, and there was a point when I told myself it was going to be difficult to work out, since I'm not great at making that kind of music.

I decided to try anyway. Not the dream-pop stuff, no way I could get myself to do that. Now I know these students did have a look at my work before handing me the project and I'm pretty sure they knew what they were signing up for, since I'm a very experimental guy, I like to drive sounds to the wall and see what ticks.

 
 

They sent me a video today (not the above one, just an excerpt of it)  and the video just as I guessed does have that dreamy surreal feel to it, something I love to thrive on. I like my movies sharp and very surreal. Think Requiem for A Dream, or better still Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind. I love those kind of movies. They kind of, screw with your brain lulling you into a false sense of security before pulling the floor away from you.

I analysed the video and figured this was in fact, exactly the kind of short film I'd like to work on. Even though it was a short 3 minute video, it pretty much summed up the gist of the story. I started with the typical faux pas strumming acoustic guitar, dreamy ambience and a little percussion. Yes, I was doing dream-pop and this was real. Facepalm.

Mid-way through the track, I think the track lost the vibe somewhere and entered unknown territory. I imagined the girl falling inside my head, and I told myself. Things need to go off-course now. What followed was me modulating a few swell pads and trying to create an ambience that was a little surreal. I ended up pretty much making a calculated switch between the loud swells and silence in small doses. I love contrast as a musician. It gives character to the events of a movie, I feel.

 
 

P.S. Imagine my surprise when they ended up using my work for just about 45 seconds of the entire six-minute movie. Now I know that sounds harsh, but then again I guess I could've done better.

But that's how music goes, sometimes you have to prioritise and focus on things that get you more profit. But then again, you never know which way the wind will turn. As it turns out, one of these students helped me bag my next project.

Cheer and Hails all around.