The Producer Me began by politely asking the Director Me to fuck off.
The Red Balloon. Not possible. Shouldn’t even be attempted.
It’s an Oscar winning film, made by a close-knit team of french artists, in the sunny, gorgeous Paris of 1956. A decade after the end of the second world war. It was a period of peace and hope and loveliness.
The city of love, art and cinema was at its optimistic best. (Not like now with army folks in every street corner). The Red Balloon was born out of That Life, that simplicity. That joy!
That film is on a pedestal, let it be there. From this point onwards this is about This Film we plan to make.
In fact, even This Film cannot be made in the ways any decent movie is made; we can’t shoot this damn film the way we shoot the other films.
By now I had the screenplay ready and I had complicated the shooting process by adding Rain to the narrative. That moment in Goa was so transcendental that I just had to put all that divinity into This film.
Rain would be a key character.
And I had big rain sequences, almost the entire film had to be drenched.
Now, for a short film, this one had far too many sequences – the narrative was spread over a passage of months. There were many outdoor shots, shots that needed controlled enviornment. Especially controlled rain-intensity.
How does one control real rain?
I quickly decided on a shooting approach that would keep my costs to a fixed minimum – no matter how many months I take to get my shots, the equipment cost won’t go up.
Also the equipment had to be absolutely inconspicuous; indie filmmakers in India face a lot of problems and one big problem is that you can’t shoot anywhere without paying for it – either to obtain necessary permissions or to pay money to the cops.
With Rain being a variable, I did not know how many days I’d need to shoot. So I decided to have absolute control over my equipment and space.
Thus faded out the ‘Indie Approach’ and what faded in can only be called D.I.Y. Filmmaking. (Such a pity that is, cinema is supposed to be a collaborative craft.)
The Red Balloon was certainly not a D.I.Y. film.
The only thing that I took from The Red Balloon was its narrative essence – that it was live-action narrative which made an inanimate object come alive.
Yes, animation films manage that all the time, but getting emotions out of a ‘thing’ that doesn’t even move on its own? Not with the help of digital trickery but through pure cinematic techniques?
(The other thing that is common developed quite organically – the family of actors I used in the backdrop are the real-life family. My cousin’s. So, yes, like Red Balloon, I got talent from within the family. In more ways than one this has been a ‘Homemade Film’!)
Lamorisse made a balloon come to life through cinema. No talking balloon, no animation, no VFX. Just plain actions captured in camera where the craft and the visual medium itself becomes the language and you witness magic!
A piece of cinema in which, the camera, what it captures, how it moves, the spaces, the sound, the music and the rain were the principal characters.
I wanted to create that magic, I wanted to use cinema to infuse life into these ‘people’:
A porcelain tale of love, God, separation and coming together again.
I called it – Encore.