Please watch this one minute short film before you start reading this post.
"One Cigarette Ago" (Oka Cigarette Kritam, Telugu) is a beautiful short made by young filmmaker Rohit Penumatsa. Rohit has been making films on simple subjects based on the society around him from quite some time now. He also writes a very nice blog on cinema which mirrors his cinematic taste...
We think, as aspiring filmmakers, the story behind the making of the film is much more inspiring than the film most of the times. For the first time on Cue For Change, we get to you a filmmaker's story in his own words. The making, the hardships, the luck, the process, the result; enjoy this essay on his own work by Rohit Penumatsa;
About 3 years back I heard of a short story called ‘Budget’. It was a story by an artist named Chandra who had written the story in the 80s. He had written it for a post card story contest and he was trying to reflect on the price rise situation back then. The contest was about writing a short story, a very short one, one that doesn’t exceed the lengths and widths of a post card.
Ever since I’ve heard of it I’ve wanted make a version of it with moving images. And I wrote a two page screenplay almost immediately and in the usual order of things it had gone through so many changes that I hardly remember the pattern of the first draft.
A friend called up one morning and told me about a short film contest in Vijayawada. Seemed like the perfect time to make it and with about 20 days to submission, there was ample time left!
Now, we wanted a room. A small room which suited the ambiance of the character’s financial state more than anything else. After trying to make a room with a few set properties we had in mind, we luckily found a small abandoned pent house on a friend’s apartment complex. It was previously used by the watchman of the apartment and hence it had all the properties we needed. A few religious pictures (calendars too), clothes dumped in a corner, sweeps and the perfect surroundings we were looking for.
Casting – The actual plan was to use a bike mechanic we knew and get an actual prostitute to play the lady. Seemed like the move which would bring in the authenticity. We approached a few sex workers and one of them accepted to do the role, but, when I told her the script she asked whether we were shooting blue films (“Blue film cassetlu teestunnaara?”).
Had to give up on that move, but, luckily we found the guy and the lady at a local drama society. They instantly understood the seriousness of the script and the shoot was done in 2 hours. Couldn’t accommodate a fourth person in the tiny room, hence I had to handle the camera myself.
All the difficulties of amateur (free of cost) film making had to be endured through the post production process - editing, grading, sound designing and even the Telugu titling. The sound designer (Raghunath) was a big time technician who had designed the sound for films such as Magadheera. Raghu liked the film instantly and had even recreated the simple sounds using his Foley artist.
All in all it was another fun ride with glimpses of utter disappointment and long waits in the corridor to get the work done (for free).
Glad that it paid off.
Rohit Penumatsa is a lover of cinema, filmmaker, screenwriter, blogger, photographer and a lot of other things. Find him interesting? Connect with him on Facebook.