October 19, 2008

The effective art of cutting and pasting

There is something about sitting late night in an edit studio watching the monitor as the film is getting done. The way you look at shots and sequences over and over again. The way they still don’t make it look redundant.

The voice over that keeps coming on during the edit: cut, paused, stopped and chopped at various places to ensure that the voice matches the shots and is in synch with the music and any other background score that you have in mind for the film.

I have sat in edit studios a number of times in the last six years and every time I sit in a studio it has been unbelievable. There is something about looking at the screen hours on end, trying to make something productive out of all the shots, stock that you have. It makes me feel like a sculptor. I make something look beautiful out of just the raw stuff.
It makes me feel like God.

When I walk into the studio, I have so many thoughts in my head. I think about all the many things I can do with what I have. I think about all the many things I can bring to the film. I think about my client. I think about the editor who am sure hasn’t slept in the last 72 hours. I think about the many hours of studio time that I or my company might be paying for. I think about my friends who I haven’t met in a long time. I think about the studio assistants who don’t get tired of the many I times I ask them to make coffee for me or to run down the street to buy me cigarettes. I think. Because I get paid for my thoughts. I get paid to think.

In the last six years I have met so many people. Editors. They are one of a kind. Most of the editors I have had the pleasure of working with, have been amazing people. Extremely soft spoken and I have always felt they talk less, because the lesser the things to edit, the better a film looks. Maybe they have adapted that kind of a lifestyle.

Some of them think.

I only wish all of them did. It makes my job so much easier. But do I really want to take the easy way out here? I don’t think so.

There is something about sitting in a studio and having an argument with the editor. He does his job, and am trying to do mine. “A dissolve here would work just fine”, I bark at the editor while I light my smoke and stare at the screen with a blank expression. He would look at me like am committing the biggest sin of my life. “A dissolve? You must be joking”, he would snarl back frothing. In the end after repeated effects and arguments we would settle for a fade.

Its little things like this that makes my time at a studio pleasurable and worthwhile. The amount of things one gets to learn. The various tools one gets to understand. This one’s for all the editors I have worked with.

The End.

(I know you’re smiling now. Fine it’s over. Burn the DVDs and send me the bill)

October 13, 2008

It was 6 in the evening...

I was sitting next to the glass overlooking the busy evening traffic on 12th Main road. The sights were not something new to me. I have sat there by the same window with a coffee and observed people and vehicles on the road. But it felt different today. It felt extremely different.

As if someone had shot a video of the busy traffic and was playing it in slow motion for me to sit and watch. Cars were moving past me, with their headlights on high beam. A cyclist was trying to avoid the puddle on the road that was present thanks to the confusing weather pattern that this city is blessed (cursed) with. An old couple walking hand in hand and all that was missing was an old kishore kumar or Rafi’s song.

Suddenly everything stopped. Everyone stopped. The slow motion was over. Someone had pressed the pause button. They knew I was watching. They knew I loved the whole scene that was being played before my eyes. The coffee tasted lovelier than always. The mosquitoes seemed to have taken a break to watch this movie too. Didn’t feel a single one of those blood sucking thingies on my skin for what seemed like a long time.

“Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man. Play a song for me”. I don’t think am sleepy and I don’t think am letting anything come and stop me from experiencing something that I have never felt before. This was completely insane.

Where is my beer when I need one? There it was. On the footpath. I could see how cold it was. I could sense the chill from the other side of the road. Bliss awaits me and all I need to do is cross the road and take it. Cross the road when everything had stopped or so I thought.

Bam. Bam. Crash.

I was lying on the road with my back on the tar road. My head felt funny. My hands were too numb. My leg. I think. Was bleeding? Missing? I don’t know.

“Are you ok?” I heard a voice. A girl’s voice, calling out to me. I opened my eyes. The sun was directly on me. I couldn’t see anything. Everything was dark. I closed my eyes.

There were people around me. They were looking at me. I felt like I was in some zoo. With people paying up at the entrance to come watch me. Perform.

Hindustani music was playing in the background and there it was. The old man smiling at me from the adjacent bed. He was singing. He was the singer, whose voice I had been hearing all evening?

He had a cardiac arrest. The poor old man. He was singing so well. I missed him. I will miss him.

Suno bhai sadho…. suno bhai sadho…

October 02, 2008

Satisfaction Guaranteed

'Done', said the voice.

'That's it'? he asked quizzically. He had been there inside the room barely for ten minutes and now it's over. That's not what he had heard. He had been eagerly looking forward to the experience. He had dreamt about it. He had fantasised about it. Even rehearsed the whole event in his head a million times over before he could get himself to come there. And now like an overblown bubble, like a monkey on heat, it was over.

He felt like he had been cheated. He felt completely let down. Tears slowly formed. His eyes became moist. His lips began to quiver. His hands trembled as he reached for his jeans. The people who entered the room moved back. No one knew how to react. The man standing closest to him ducked for cover behind the red couch that was placed strategically for the comfort of the customers. The others quickly followed his actions. His knees felt weak. His stomach was getting queasy.

'This can't be it. This really can't be....'

He screamed. With his face buried between his palms. His whole body was shivering. He felt a hand tap him on the shoulder.

'That would be 500 rupees', the voice said.

He lifted his head up. There, he saw her standing in front of him. Her hair looked neatly in place. Better than his. He was sweating. She was surely not amused with his melodrama.

'Pay up and beat it mister. I have more clients waiting', she said.

He reached for his wallet with great difficulty. He took the money and offered it to her. She pointed towards the cash counter where her assistant was waiting with a stare. The assistant had bright red lipstick on. She had very big bust and it seemed like they were heaving with all the anger. She looked more like a man. She snatched the money from him and showed him the door. He could barely walk. He literally crawled out through the door. The door closed behind him.

He inched his way a bit more. Flashes of the french movie he saw a few days back came flooding. His temples where throbbing. With all the courage he could muster, he turned back. There it said, the sign on top of the door....

"Amazing Matilda- The salon experience you will never forget".