Thursday, January 30, 2014

Paradise Calling (2010)

Paradise Calling (Short Film / 2010) from Suresh Mathew on Vimeo.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paradise Calling (Short Film)

Poster of 'Paradise Calling'

Writer / Director: Suresh Mathew
Cast: Abbas Syed, Vijay Vikram Singh
Camera: Neeraj Tewari
Editing: Sameer Bansdawala
Music: Rooshin Dalal
Additional Writing: Mohit Mishra
Art Direction: Faraz Ali  Aparna Raina

Production: Vishal Chatkara
Poster Art: Ishita Banerjee

Reactions to 'Paradise Calling'

“Refreshingly original and darkly comic. Relevant and ironic. An assured debut!” - Rajeev Masand, Film Critic / Entertainment Editor, CNN IBN 

“Liked it. Extremely well-shot, great sound. Interesting theme – terror & recession strikes a chord” Namrata Joshi, Film Critic / Assistant Editor, Outlook 

“Wonderful! Great performances. Fantastic take on things. Disturbing and thought provoking. Enjoyed watching it.” - Raghu Ram, Television Host / Conceptualizer MTV Roadies


Synopsis & Trailer of 'Paradise Calling'


At a time when economic slowdown & terrorism affects almost everything under the sun, what happens when recession hits Jihad Inc.?
‘Paradise Calling’ is an independent short film that takes a satirical look at the times we live in. Like terror, recession sometimes hits the most unlikely.

Trailer 'Paradise Calling' (Short Film) from Suresh Mathew on Vimeo.

Making 'Paradise Calling'

Poster of 'Paradise Calling'

The Idea: I had recently promised myself to make a short film whenever a good idea hit me. However the good idea HAD to come with its own limitations – it shouldn’t require filming for more than a shift (8 hours) since I wouldn’t be able to afford a camera, it shouldn’t require extensive filming (no outdoors, not too many locations) since I had a day job, it shouldn’t require too much editing since I wouldn’t be able to afford an editing studio for long. Given these parameters it shouldn’t require too many actors either. And with all these limitations – the idea had to be good enough for me to put in whatever money I could afford to put into it.
One fine morning in November while on a walk – two things were going through my mind, it was the first anniversary of 26/11 – at the same time an organization I knew closely had been finally hit by recession. A mixture of these 2 global news points – terrorism and recession then became the seed for ‘Paradise Calling’. The film is basically a telephone conversation between two characters – a ‘Handler’ and a ‘Foot Soldier’.
The Plan: Keeping in mind all the limitations mentioned above, I sat down to write a script and typed it out overnight with dialogues in English and sent it to my resourceful Hindi word wizard Mohit in Delhi to be turned into Hindi. As the script came into shape, I showed it to a few friends – some of whom are involved with films and TV – all of them felt that it was indeed something worth executing.
With a diploma in Film & TV and having worked as a television producer for several years, I knew my basics. I wouldn’t be completely at a loss in handling video, audio and putting them together to make a story. Also as an avid film viewer – I was used to re-scripting, re-shooting and re-editing the films I watched in my head. The initial plan was to keep it simple – use a handycam, shoot silhouettes of the actors so that I don’t have to get into the trouble of creating ‘characters’ and edit a 1 minute film out of it for personal gratification. However as my hunt for actors went on, the idea became bigger. Suggestions and advice blew it up into a 6 minute short, shot outdoors & indoors, with actors, lights, set design, props, make up, using Digital HD Video.

Title Credit of 'Paradise Calling'

The Team: As everyone says filmmaking is nothing but teamwork – I had pre-decided – my cameraperson and editor. Neeraj – a friend and very talented news cameraperson who I had met 8 years ago was all enthusiastic about the shoot and Sameer – an ace editor at my office was also ready to jump in.
I needed two actors for the film – and the search introduced me to Faraz – who read the script and immediately understood what I was looking for. I needed an experienced actor for one of the characters, the second one needed an impressive voice – Faraz put me in touch with Abbas (former MTV guy with a theatre background) and Vijay (a voice over artiste) and without any audition, on my first meeting with them – I sort of knew that they would fit the bill. Abbas did a great job of giving his character the exact emotional graph it required, and Vijay with his deep voice gave the Handler’s character a new life.
While the team was falling into place, Manu Rishi Chadha suggested some changes which I incorporated. Faraz did some storyboarding and character sketches and pitched in for the art direction along with Aparna. I roped in a friend Vishal to help in production and another good friend Ishita came up with some great poster designs to create some buzz.
Abbas Syed as the Foot Soldier in 'Paradise Calling'

The Execution: I already had a rough budget in mind and shooting on Full HD was out of question. After a few consultations with friends and watching video samples on youtube and vimeo I decided to shoot with the Sony Z7 which is not fully HD, but is affordable and gets great results. Attached with a DOF adaptor and a 20mm lens to give the visuals a ‘film’ quality – we started shooting the first sequence at Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai at 7pm. This sequence was shot just to give the film an atmosphere or ambience of sorts. Luckily the crowded market area wasn’t really interested in what we were doing and we got away by pretending to be a news camera crew, and shot for nearly 3 hours there.
The second location was my house. We had to shoot the remaining 2 sequences here, Aparna had by then completely changed my living room – creating the two different spaces required for the film. We started by shooting the Foot Soldier scenes as it required a lot of movement and different camera angles. After a few takes we realised that continuity of position, action etc was a problem and so took a break to block all the shots as per the dialogues and began shooting again. This sequence took us nearly four hours to complete by when we had been shooting for a total of 7 hours non-stop. Energy and concentration levels had started dipping, luckily the last sequence involving the Handler was an easy one and we managed to wrap it in 2 hours. A few patch work shots took another 1 hour to can – so we ended up shooting non-stop for almost 10 hours.
Vijay Vikram as the Handler in 'Paradise Calling'

Post-Production: We edited the film at Ultra Digital near my office, so that we could start early and then head for the day’s work at office. The film was edited in roughly 3 shifts on Final Cut Pro by Sameer. A young music composer Rooshin was introduced to me by Faraz while post production was on, he basically provided us with background scores and sound effects besides cleaning up the audio tracks. This is when we discovered an oversight. We had started shooting the film, assuming that we would be dubbing the dialogues after the final edit was locked. As a result we did not pay attention to sound recording while shooting, managing with just a boom kept at a distance to catch the audio for reference. Later while dubbing the dialogues to the video – we realised that it was nearly impossible to get the same emotions back into the actor’s voices, also getting the lip sync just right was also a big hassle. So we had to discard the idea of dubbing the dialogues and made an extra effort to clean up the audio which was recorded at shoot.
The End: No one in the team charged any fee for bringing their talent to the table. The film’s major expenses came in hiring the camera, lens, lights, props and editing studio.
The few friends, family members and colleagues who’ve seen the film have reacted positively to it. The aim now would be to enter it into a few festivals and hope for a selection, besides ‘peddling’ DVDs to some established filmmakers to get a reaction. When I finished shooting ‘Paradise Calling’ after a gruelling 10 or more hours and saw the mess my house was in, I promised myself ‘never again!’… but as I finish typing this blog – a new idea germinates… wanting to let itself take life on screen. Sigh!

- Suresh Mathew