Shakespeare-India connect: expect emotions galore on screen

Writers, directors and producers from the UK and India were put through a week-long intensive training workshop in July 2015 by Film London in the UK to develop projects influenced by the works of William Shakespeare. They share their experiences here 

Indian writer / director Rajat Kapoor (right) at the workshops

Indian writer / director Rajat Kapoor (right) at the workshops © Film London / Anna Gordon

Deborah Sathe, Film London
My team and I were delivering a Microschool with the British Council when the idea to work with India came about. Independent film suffers the same challenges here and there, but with The Lunchbox setting the world alight, it felt now was the right time to join forces with India, train the most promising talent together and see whether forming international feature film teams would help serve two domestic markets. Two years later, and with the help of William Shakespeare, I find myself on day four of Microwave International: Shakespeare India. We have 16 exceptional filmmakers working on six contemporary Shakespeare stories, world class mentors and speakers, and lots of coffee. At the end of this week the projects will take all their learning away and resubmit their projects for pitching. One of these will be greenlit into production with our partners Cinestaan and Bob & Co, and the ensuing film take part in the big Shakespeare celebrations in 2016.

To get to this point has taken an unbelievable amount of work, as is so often the case when delivering something new. However, looking at these incredible storytellers and the ‘arranged marriages’ they have formed with their UK/Indian counter parts, I am beyond delighted with the results.

Ashish Ghadiali, writer/director for Realism (based on Macbeth)
If this was ordinary Microschool I’d still be counting my lucky stars. Lectures from stalwarts like Peter Buckingham, Tristan Goligher, Mick Audsley, mentoring from a producer of the calibre of Andrea Calderwood: I see myself waving my script at her in some festival bar while she runs for her coat, but here the engagement is direct, the feedback free-flowing and with every minute in her presence I feel the project and my own self raised to a whole other level of performance. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg because this isn’t ordinary. It’s Microschool India. I’ve been seeking this space, where professionals from India and the UK could really take the time to learn from one another and create something new for nearly a decade. It’s dreamy to have found it and I feel like the future is being seeded here in these collaborations. It’s a visionary scheme.

Indian Writer/Director Bornila Chatterjee

Indian Writer/Director Bornila Chatterjee © Film London / Anna Gordon

Bornila Chatterjee, writer/director for The Crorepatis (based on Titus Andronicus)
This is storytelling bootcamp. The days are packed and the mentors are relentless. They ask us the difficult questions we want to avoid, they do not provide all the answers and they challenge us to think hard about the essence, the core — the actual story we want to tell. Tough? Sure. Which is why these first two days have been way better than film school ever was, and more insightful that any screenwriting class I’ve ever taken.

Andrea Calderwood, producer mentor (films include The Last King of Scotland and A Most Wanted Man)
Love, passion, murder, betrayal, revenge —  it’s all going on at Microschool India this week. [Six combined Indian and British writer/producer/director teams have six ambitious projects to make a Shakespeare-inspired Indian-connected feature film, and the full range of human emotion is in play.]

What’s special about the Microschool project is that it’s not simply a theoretical training exercise – out of the six projects, the funding is available to make one of the films, with the possibility that others might be helped to finance their films too. This very real prospect of production sharpens everyone’s minds. An intense timescale of one week of workshops leading to the final pitch in six weeks time means the entire development process is accelerated, and it’s inspiring to see the huge development leaps — which would normally take months of agonizing and debate — which can be made with total focus in 24 hours.

The combination of Shakespeare dealing with the fundamentals of human emotion, and the mentoring process dealing with the fundamentals of filmmaking in a week leads to a no-holds-barred atmosphere, which should produce some explosive and attention-grabbing films.

Sharmila Chauhan, UK writer for The Heart of the City (based on The Taming of the Shrew)
Some might say being almost 38 weeks pregnant and then having an arranged marriage may be the wrong way of doing things. So far this week I have been introduced and married to the intelligent and artistically-sensitive Pratyusha Gupta (director) and the inspiring, warm Ameenah Allen (producer) as part of what I hope will be a long-term commitment. And who says assisted introductions don’t work? Having faith in the process and your partners is something integral to the creative experience — and the Microschool has definitely has accelerated that process.
My wives and I have had an intense week: a full on holistic look of film from script to editing, together with one-to-ones with mentors and many a late night working on script.
There has been an outpouring of ideas and many seeds of ideas have been uprooted and then replanted in new ground. But now this ground has been fertilised by all three of us.
I’m excited to see how our film will grow. And I’m glad that she has now has three mothers, watching to see what she will become.

Microschool in progress

Microschool in progress © Film London / Anna Gordon

Rahul Merchant, distribution mentor from India (India’s FAME cinema chain, Bubble Motion Pte Ltd)
Microschool is an outstanding and earnest initiative, combining great talent from India and UK and enabling great stories to come to life. The sessions with industry leaders are insightful, and thought-provoking enough to empower producers with enough knowledge and power across all disciplines of film making. I sincerely believe the film that does come out of this initiative will be the one the world will sit up and take notice of, and a purist outcome of a well defined, well articulated and mentored program. I wish for this initiative to grow and become the leader on Microschooling across the world and for more film makers and producers to get encouraged to make their dreams come true on celluloid.

 

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