“Varenya” has been selected by Film Independent as one of 10 scripts that will participate in the 2013 Screenwriting Lab.
Grateful to Film Independent for the opportunity.
The press release is here.
I’m excited to share my first feature, “Varenya”.
I am super-grateful to everyone who advised and supported the project so far.
The film page, with more detail, is here.
For the April issue of Vogue India, Shahnaz Siganporia wrote a piece on three women working with poetry. Many thanks for the article.
THE VERSE SCREENER
In her final year of the Graduate Film program at NYU, the energetic Shripriya Mahesh, 39, signed up for a class called Directing Poetry. Twelve writer/directors would be shortlisted, and each would work on adapting a poem into a short film. She was picked to being her tutelage under Hollywood’s intellectual heartthrob James Franco, who was the leading the study group. And that’s how Mahesh began working on her short film, The Color Of Time, starring Franco and Jessica Chastain, among others.
Poetry was nowhere on the horizon for this Chennai-born-and-raised woman — in school, she was obsessed with her camera and thought she would be a photographer some day. But as she grew up, the need to be self-sufficient took over and Mahesh got her MBA from Harvard instead. She almost found her calling in Silicon Valley — “I loved the Valley, and was happy working on cool products used by millions of people” — but fate led her to New York, where the nascent tech industry provided little satisfaction. The old photography bug bit again, but this time she found it too solitary an experience, feeling more drawn to the world of filmmaking. and that’s how she ended up joining a class in which she trans-created poetry.
Today, Mahesh is a bona fide poetry buff and wants to work more with the art. In the meantime, she’s busy in Singapore, researching and writing her first full-length film, set in South India. “With poetry, it’s easy to get lost in the complexity of the words. Film can make it more accessible because there is a visual clarity,”she explains. As for her favorite verse, Mahesh frequently finds herself immersed in the world of Pulitzer prize-winning poet, CK Williams. “I was drawn to [this poems] ‘The Color Of Time’ and ‘Waking Jed’ because I am a parent,” she says. Both examine the father-son relationship and form the core narrative of her film, out this year.
I posted earlier about updating your RSS feed to site’s core feed.
I will be making the switch tomorrow.
I am going to re-direct my Feedburner feed to my site’s core feed – http://tatvam.com/feed. I am not quite sure how the re-direct works, so if this is the last post you see and you do not see a new post on April 15th, then it means the Feedburner feed you are subscribed to no longer works.
If you wish to keep reading, please update your feed to http://tatvam.com/feed
If you see this post in your RSS reader, thank you for reading.
If you would like to continue reading, please update the RSS feed to this feed instead- http://tatvam.com/feed
I am in the process of dropping Feedburner, which currently powers this site’s RSS feed. Why am I making this change? Well, recently, Google announced that they are shutting down their RSS reader, imaginatively titled, Reader. All indications are that they will likely shut down Feedburner too. I’d rather get ahead of this possible (and likely) shutdown,
http://tatvam.com/feed is the site’s core feed and it will not change as long as this blog is active. This feed is exactly what you’ve been reading all along – a combination of my film, tech and tumblr posts. If this core feed is what you have in your feed reader, you are all set. If you have a Feedburner feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/Tatvam or http://feeds.feedburner.com/AlmostAsGoodAsChocolate), you should update it if you want to keep reading. To add it to your feed reader of choice, just copy and paste the URL (http://tatvam.com/feed) into your feed reader.
I will make the switch on April 15th.
Thank you for reading and participating.
The New York Times reports that scientists at MIT have uncovered a way to show the invisible motions of your body, like your heart beat, eye movement etc., on screen. You have to watch the video in the link – it’s pretty incredible.
The system works by homing in on specific pixels in a video over the course of time. Frame-by-frame, the program identifies minute changes in color and then amplifies them up to 100 times, turning, say, a subtle shift toward pink to a bright crimson.
What’s even better is that they have released the source code so that anyone can use it. There are a ton of applications to this, across several fields. But in film, there are immediate and cool uses. I’m betting someone is going to come up with a short film, run it through the algorithm and have it up online in… less than 2 weeks.
Such great work. Thank you, Prof. William T. Freeman and team!
Reprise is an official selection at the 23rd Melbourne Queer Film Festival and plays with a great set of short films.
It was also selected for the Cine en los barrios section of the 53rd Cartagena Film Festival, which seems like a cool, experimental section to take the films out to the people.
Now, it would be much cooler if I was actually able to go watch it being screened at either location, but I’m excited about the Australian and South American premiers and happy that more people will get to watch it.
Many thanks to the programming staff at the festivals.
Last Sunday, the Mumbai Mirror published an interview with Shripriya by Aseem Chhabra.
The link to the Mumbai Mirror here (but behind a paywall), so it’s reproduced below.
A Magical Experience
The class was called Directing Poetry and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for 12 graduate film students at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
“Poetry is so personal and visual, and it seemed like a great class to take on how to adapt a poem,” said Shripriya Mahesh, one of the two Indian Americans who managed to get into the class. Her classmate Shruti Ganguly also attended the course offered last year, while the two were in the third year of the program.
What made the class fascinating was that it was taught by the Oscar-nominated actor James Franco, who has also been collecting a series of degrees himself.
Franco’s plan was to make the class read Tar, a collection of poems written by Pulitzer Prize winning poet C.K. Williams. Each student was then to write a script and direct a short film based on the poem. Franco, who also played the role of the producer then planned to edit all the films into one full length feature.
This Friday, Tar – the film written and directed by Mahesh and her 11 classmates had its world premiere at the Rome Film Festival.
Mahesh picked two poems that spoke to her – Color of Time, where Williams remembers his childhood and Waking Jed, where the author observes his son who is about to wake up. “I thought it would be wonderful to connect the two ideas,” Mahesh said to me on Skype. A former executive at eBay, Mahesh finished her NYU program in May, and moved in the summer to Singapore with her husband and twin boys.
Franco invited Williams to the class and he read out all the poems selected for the film. “Just listening to him read was amazing and moving,” Mahesh said.
Then a few fortuitous things happened. As the students started to think about casting for their films, Franco offered to act as adult Williams.
And since Franco at that time was acting in Detroit in Oz: The Great and the Powerful, the shooting of the Tar segments also moved to that city. One more thing – Franco brought some of his Hollywood friends to act in the film. So Jessica Chastain drove down for a few days from a film shoot in Canada to act as young Williams’ mother. And Mila Kunis agreed to act as Williams’ wife.
All of this meant that Mahesh along with a few other classmates got to direct both Franco and Chastain. “It was very generous of the actors,” Mahesh said. “They didn’t have to do the films.”
“Directing James and Jessica was a joy,” Mahesh said. “They were very professional and collaborative. It was a very mutually respectful environment where I never felt they were stars.”
“He (Franco) switched roles very easily, “ she added. “When I was directing him, he took directions, even though he knew the script very well. But he would ask me ‘Do you want me to do it this way or another way?’ When I would call cut, he would ask how was that?”
She added that Franco nailed the performance of Williams in just a couple of takes, especially a tender moment towards the end of the film where he observes his son’s finger and ear. And while Mahesh was directing Chastain, Franco watched her and even gave helpful advice.
A lot of Mahesh’s beautifully made ten and a half minute long film has the free flowing style reminiscent of Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life. “When you are talking about memory and this was a year ago, that was a very relevant film. James suggested it to us as a visual reference.”
The visual style also matched through the shorts, since the films were shot by two cinematographers and the project had one production designer.
Last week Mahesh was heading to Rome for Tar’s premiere. “It was a very unique opportunity and the great thing is we went into it without expecting any of this,” she said. “I thought adapting poetry will be interesting. And then it became a magical experience when all these things fell into place.”
Photo credit: Anna Kooris
Very short two-day trip to Rome for the red carpet and the premiere.
While there were eight of the twelve directors in attendance, suffice it to say that the team that made TAR happen was a lot larger. The DPs, production designers, costumers, G&E team, line producers, sound, location managers and our amazing ADs and their teams, were all incredible. And the magicians who worked on the film in post, pulling 12 different shorts together – the editors, sound designers, composers. So much talent and dedication. My intense gratitude to each of them.
In terms of nerves, all of mine were reserved for the screening itself.
The Hollywood Reporter review can be read here.
Photo Credit/Source: Ernesto Ruscio, Venturelli/Getty Images Europe
A big part of life as a writer/director is handling rejection. Rejections from festivals, prizes, grants, producers, actors… I mean, anyone who can reject you will do so. Perhaps several times. And even someone who appears successful externally is getting crushed with some form of rejection.
Some rejections you can brush off and move on. Others linger. The depth of the wound and the recovery time is directly proportional to the sum of how much you deluded yourself and how much you wanted it.
The most significant hurdle of all is finding the resources to defeat the almost inevitable 48-hour blues that follow the non-win, and the energy to return to the work in hand, unaffected by what’s just happened to a different book. Every writer I know feels more or less contented or discontented with day-to-day life according to how his or her writing is going. Many, many things will affect this, but I know that the non-win of a prize can seem to infect the ongoing work with a badness-virus and lay the author low. What’s on the page or screen – in which there had been stubborn belief, perhaps even garlanded a bit with excitement – can suddenly appear less than first-rate. Sentences crease and bend. Dialogue sounds wan. Even the ideas which inform the book can buckle at the knees.
The art of surviving this is simply the art of keeping on. Time and hard work will heal the poor ravaged thing. In the work lies the future. In the future may lie other shortlists and other wins or non-wins. And so the whole darn desperate process begins again …
By the time I reached the end, I was tearing up with empathy1. But, taking her advice, I shall get back to work instead.
My rejections, to be clear, are on a much smaller, less relevant scale. ↩