Anand Fadeout

Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Friday, May 25, 2007

And because the grapes were sour

Two areas of film practice where I believe I have demonstrable and transmissible skills are in location sound recording and production management. And as sod would have it, these are precisely the disciplines where the industry I work in chooses to display maximum inertia.

Let us take Synch-sound recording for example. There have been a few attempts at it, and it is precisely these so-called attempts that the nay-sayers use to show how impossible it is to practice proper synch-sound recording here. Here is my take on this. Location sound recording is a craft that needs to be practised by trained professionals. OK, so we import a few recordists, WTF? But here is the deal: just like every other craft in the films, this too does not work in isolation.

Who does your so very crucial clapper: Some random errand-boy assistant director, and not the same person everytime. The clapper is a crucial technical task best left to a technician. I prefer a member of the camera team do it. They know the lens and the cameraman.

Announcements: They are too random and not very clear with directors preferring to blare over the PA than give calm direct instructions. And please be advised, you are not saving any film stock by compromising on the announcement/clap. You're merely protracting post-production.

Reports and continuity notes: What goes on the board and what goes on the sheets are very crucial when it comes to synchronising the rushes and naming sub-clips. A script supervisor is not some guy who you reserve to do the prompting.

The attitude: Fixing it in the dub is fallacious and is the path to ruin. Also, when you do a recce, remember not to shoot 1890 period pieces next to PH road. Also remember that sound is half your movie.

With a system like this, no sound recordist or boom operator can make magic. Then the unreachable grapes... oh they are sour!

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9:13 pm


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Monday, May 14, 2007

This news items contains triple-antigenic Zeolytes for optimal moisturation

What the fuck are they talking about?

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12:39 pm


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Sunday, May 06, 2007

How do you know when to take that cigarette break during a film you've never seen?

Paruthiveeran is quite a remarkable film. Ameer's command over his mise-en-scene is masterful and the film is best enjoyed in a packed hall.

The last time I met Ameer, he seemed quite piqued by the film certification/censorship system in India. I have little doubt that he would have had to fight his case hard with Paruthiveeran as well. Well, whatever we might have to say about the merits of the system, attending this screening has taught me a lot about the sheer worthlessness of film certification/pre-censorship in India.

This film with its recommended cuts and generous admissions has earned a U/A, the equivalent of a PG-13. Not that I entirely approve of a monolithic classification system but let's say I do so for arguments sake. This film should have got an A (15+) for general mature content, strong language, protracted graphic unarmed combat, violence with sharp objects, and a disturbing scene of rape. Since the film has outraged my morals, I can actually take the board to court for telling me that it is OK to take my family to this film.

But in reality, I do not think that any one person's system of rating actually works for everybody else. This means that I never really mind the Tamil movie audiences' penchant for bring little kids to watch people being killed. Now, if not me, somebody else might express moral outrage at such irresponsible parenting. Film pre-censorship wishes to do just that, and hopelessly fails. Not just because enforcement is lax, but because people (and parents) have already made informed choices and really don't bother about some silly piece of paper. So the next time you see a 6-yr-old sitting next to you enjoying that really raunchy item-number, it is quite possible that the parents are neither ignorant nor irresponsible, they might just be very liberal.

Let me digress a little. Arthur De Vany in his excellent book Hollywood Economics refers to a "turning point" during a film's run (he mentions 4 weeks after release) where the revenue curves for the hits and misses dramatically diverge. This might appear to be imitative herding, but De Vany explains that it is in fact a result of a word-of-mouth information sharing system among the (potential) audience members. Technically we all decide if a movie is a hit or not, but interestingly cannot predict how we're gonna decide.

It is easy for all us movie-goers to acknowledge the existence of word-of-mouth information, but it is remarkable to see how big a role it plays in a film's success or failure. Getting back to our film, Paruthiveeran is in its 11th week. We cannot empirically confirm the 4-week rule for Tamil cinema, but it is quite evident that the film is already a box-office success. The audience is pretty much already clued-in and know what to look forward to in the film.

Broad assumptions about media effects, and the influence of such a powerful medium as film on our poor audience, are significant bases for film pre-censorship in Indian law. To tell you the truth, Paruthiveeran is a disturbing film, it is a powerful film, it certainly is designed to elicit a loathing born out of frustration (all a la Straw Dogs), it also is meant to zap young men to spontaneously dance in the aisles during the folk song numbers.

A study of media effects should not merely stop at "does it or does it not". "What happens then" is where we should continue, and this is where ideas differ. I personally subscribe to the idea that "wilful suspension of disbelief" lasts until we walk out of the doors, or a minute and a half into the end credits, whichever happens first.

But what really matters is that even if people do get affected/influenced by films, they all do not react the same way, and more importantly, they use the same word-of-mouth information sharing system to temper/modify their reactions to the film. I do not know how many were repeat-audiences for this screening of Paruthiveeran, but about a 3rd of the hall emptied just before the beginning of the infamously disturbing rape scene. Yes, some people do not want to be disturbed by the film. But they make that informed decision and simply walk out at the exact right time.

It appears we are more knowledgeable and responsible than we would like to acknowledge we are. And the central board of film certification takes us for fools. Also, we really don't care what they think.

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7:02 pm


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Saturday, May 05, 2007

LOLtamz: I'm in UR heartlandz

I'm in UR heartlandz
Original picture nicked from here

VR in UR macroz
makin' new memez!


10:48 pm


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