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Movie by Apeejay Institute of Design student bags award in 12th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival

Vedant Chakraborty’s ‘World, Zombied’ won the jury mention at the festival. In an interview, he talks about his inspiration, filmmaking process and role as Assistant Director of the film.

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Lights, camera, sound and action! The world of the movies transports us into a different realm. It is no different for Vedant Chakraborty, an undergraduate student at Apeejay Institute of Design (AID), Tughlakabad who dreamt of making movies since childhood. Recently, he won the prestigious 12th Dada Saheb Phalke Jury Mention 2022 for ‘World, Zombied,’ his debut film. Inspired by great directors such as Steven Spielberg, Vedant began creating short films in the nation-wide Covid-19 imposed lockdown. He explains how he worked on his skills at home, starting to read more about filmmaking techniques, story structure and the camera. Edited excerpts from the interview:

How did you get a chance to become an Assistant Director in ‘World, Zombied’?

In 2020, I began shooting several short films at home and kept uploading them on YouTube. I created a short film, ‘Company’ which the director of ‘World, Zombied’, Mr. Manmeet Singh Chaddha, really liked. In that, I experimented with some techniques such as stop motion animation. He saw my talent and gave me a chance in the film.

What is the film all about?

‘World, Zombied’ is about enslavement. There are three timelines in this film: the Zombie timeline, an office timeline and the gangster timeline. All these showcase different characters who suffer due to the state’s authoritarian rule. And so, they are forced to do things they don’t want to. The movie focuses on their free will. The inspiration for the story came from the reality of our society and how the idea of ‘work’ is perceived by people.  

How was your experience on the sets?

I learnt team work there. As an Assistant Director, I was required to assist everyone and it was a tough job because one has to be on their toes, right from doing special effects to costumes, set designing, camera handling etc. I also did the story-boarding, conceptualising, poster-designing and editing of the film.

How do you feel about your achievement at the 12th Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival?

Honestly, I didn’t even expect to be nominated, forget winning. I was taken by surprise when my name came up. After receiving the honour, I was very happy. At the Festival, I not only showcased my film but learnt from others’ work as well. Participants chose pertinent topics such as alienation in families, child abuse, to name a few and discussions about social issues followed from these. It was a fulfilling experience for me.  

Could you tell us some common shooting techniques used in the movies?

Yes. One is the Dutch angle. It originated in Germany and was pioneered by Robert Wiene in his 1920 horror film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”. The angle of the camera is set in a manner that it shows something bad or harmful is going to happen. This is used in horror, dark-fantasy or spy thriller movies.

Another is the whip zoom, a type of camera shot in which the camera zooms in or out quickly allowing the viewer to focus on the subject. This technique is used by directors such as Quentin Tarantino and examples can be seen in the 1970s Kung Fu films. It is used to portray power, agitation and tension.

Then, there is dolly zoom, an in-camera effect where you dolly towards or away from a subject while zooming in the opposite direction. It is used for scenes that are dramatic or pensive in nature.

Do Hollywood and Bollywood films differ in their story structure?

Interestingly, no. They both use the same structure. It is either a Three Act or Six Act structure. These are fundamental in story-telling and one can’t create a movie without it.

What do your college days look like at AID?

They are fun-filled. I am enrolled in the Animation and Multimedia course at the college. In 2020 and 2021, we shifted to the online mode of learning. Then, I had more time at hand to explore new things.

Any extra courses you took at home to upskill yourself?

Yes, to become an essential part of the industry, I am also learning to draw, create special effects and working on my communication skills.

What are the essential qualities necessary to be an Assistant Director?

Discipline, design sense and skills to cater to all things important at the sets.  

For those starting at filmmaking, your advice?

I started creating films on my iPhone. So, I can say that there was a time when I could not handle the camera. My hands used to shake a lot and weren’t stable enough. So, I practiced to balance my hands. It was my first step towards filmmaking. After that, I began to shoot extensively and made several documentaries over my phone. This boosted my confidence and enhanced my skills. 

Mrini Devnani is Senior Correspondent (Newsroom). She covers student achievements, interviews and contributions for the website. She was a former Correspondent covering Edutech for the India Today Group, and has a passion for Social Media and Digital Marketing. You can reach her at [email protected]

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