Saturday, 30 September 2017

Film Making for Social Good

The concept of cinema to bring about social change is using cinema to make a difference to our lives. Can film be used for a social purpose?

We were taught the ropes to make short films on a theme of our choice recently.

A Workshop on 'Basic Film Making Workshop for Social Good' was organized by the U.S Consulate General Mumbai in association with Chowgule College, Goa.

Lester Almeida, Program Coordinator, Chowgule Centre for Applied and Professional Studies (CCAPS) Margao, Goa thoughtfully sent me a confirmation email informing me that I was selected.

The workshop which attracted about 40 participants was well represented by students, creative persons, NGOs and academicians. Film director Ajita Suchitra Veera, hopped on a 2 a.m. flight to Goa after her duties at Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune.

Day 1 kicked off with a discussion on 'What is Cinema?' As Charlie Chaplin stared at you from the power-point visual you knew you were in the right place at the right time. Ajita panned across the history of cinema beginning with Edward Muybridge's zoopraxiscope in 1888. Visuals were also shown of Edison's Kreitoscope in 1889. The cinematograph of the Lumiere Brothers in 1895 was shown. George Melies, an illusionist, brought the curtains down on this very exciting session.

What was most interesting was the film clips shared by the US consulate of short films of 2-3 minutes carrying social messages. One clip opened with a working lady being dropped off by an auto rickshaw to her apartment where she lives alone. The camera then goes into a close-up of the items she takes out from her handbag. They include boxing gloves, pepper spray, and various other deterrents of unwanted attention. The clip closes with the line, ‘How far does a woman have to go?’ (to stay safe in the city) Another was on domestic violence. Another was an animation short film on the pitfalls of child marriages to the girl child.

The next session was on film making fundamentals. The nuances of lighting, camera angles, shot, take, tracking, and frame were explained. Stills from famous movies accompanied the theory. Participants were asked if they could identify classics like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Mask of Zorro, Sixth Sense, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and Satyajit Ray's Apurv Sansar.

The latter part of Day 1 and Day 2 were spent making our own amateur short films. We were divided into groups, each with a director, camera person, sound recordist and actors. After several rehearsals were were finally approved by Ajita to shoot the film. In most cases this was done on android phones.

The workshop ended much too soon with Almitra Kika, Program Manager, US Consulate, Mumbai inviting us to send our entries for the US Consulate General's short film contest on the theme 'Women's Safety and Empowerment.' Entries are invited from 1 October to 10 November 2017.Videos to be sent to

With so many issues pertaining to women’s safety the effort is laudable.
Pix above: Workshop officials with our group. From left to right, Manoj, Sushma, Almitra Kika (Program Manager, US Consulate, Mumbai), Fayaaz, Ajita Suchitra Veera (Film Director and Trainer), Dr. Brian Mendonca, and Jerome. Chowgule College auditorium, 29 September 2017. The workshop was from 28-29 September 2017. Published in Gomantak Times, Weekender, on Sunday, 29 October 2017, 

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