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Onir throws a filmmaking challenge in the time of lockdown

The exercise is aimed at helping aspiring filmmakers as well as Onir himself.

Keyur Seta

If you are an aspiring filmmaker who feels restricted by the current countrywide lockdown to combat the coronavirus pandemic, here is an opportunity for you to showcase your skills while staying indoors.

Director Onir has come up with a filmmaking challenge. He has asked aspiring filmmakers to send a short film, of not more than two minutes, which has been shot entirely indoors. He will judge the contest along with My Brother... Nikhil (2005) actor and close friend Sanjay Suri.

Explaining the challenge, Onir said in an exclusive conversation, “There are so many people messaging me about filmmaking and wanting to do films. I feel right now there is a sense of frustration with people sitting at home and not doing anything. But I feel this time can be really used to think creatively and to do things where you can actually test your creativity.” Besides, he pointed out, films today can be shot and edited entirely on mobile phone.

Shutdown Stories: Onir is busy completing his scripts, cooking for his parents and learning new things

This contest will also help Onir put a team together for his next project. “There are a lot of people who message me wanting to work as assistant, intern, etc," the filmmaker said. "So [I thought] why not use this time where no production is happening. Because immediately after the lockdown there is going to be a lot of work because people will make content. Whichever [filmmakers] are the best, I will take them in my team.”

Onir said the contest would give an opportunity to those who are seeking to work with him. At the same time, it would help him locate talent. "You give a situation and time limit and you almost mentor people who start sending films. It gives them a kick to do something creative because I will give feedback and post it on social network. It’s my field and profession, so why not use it in a positive manner during this time?” he said.

Onir is ready to make a web-series set in Kashmir whenever he gets the opportunity. He could not shoot it last year as the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir was placed under lockdown after its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution was scrapped suddenly in August. He is also working to complete another film script.

Coming back to the contest, it is a must for the short film to be shot indoors as going out should be avoided on account of the coronavirus pandemic threat and the need to ensure physical distancing. The theme he has decided for the contest this week is ‘Tomorrow.’ Each week he will be giving out a new theme.

Sanjay Suri

Asked why he came up with tomorrow as a theme, Onir said, “I thought of starting with tomorrow because that is what one is thinking of all the time. Like, what is going to happen tomorrow? Or tomorrow I will buy some stuff. Maybe I will be able to do this. There is a lot of thought about the future. Tomorrow can be interpreted in various ways. It can be documentary or fiction.”

As for the decision to restrict the duration of the film to two minutes, the filmmaker said he wanted to set certain boundaries for the contestants. Besides, this is an exercise for social media where short videos are preferred.

“People don’t have the patience," he said. "Unless you are doing a web-series, people on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter want quick things. It’s also the art of trying to tell a story quickly. It’s also easy to judge. Without a set duration, it can become too random.”

The final date for submission for this week's entries is 4 April 2020.

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