Sumit Roy (India)
Interview: 10 questions
1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I grew up in New Delhi where I did a graduation degree in History followed by a Masters in Mass Communication. That second degree allowed me play & experiment with many different media forms at the same time, opening my mind up to the possibilities of creating a versatile style for myself.
2. When, how and why started you filming?
My interest in filmmaking was sparked initially by an enthusiasm for the philosophies contained in narrative films. I wanted to study film theory as an academic discipline – but once I made my first couple of short films as a Masters student, I decided that I really wanted to make films and not just be someone who only talks about film’s other people have made. What remains a constant concern though is my interest in film philosophy, and that I think, shows in the kind of work I do.
3. What kind of subjects have your films?
Having worked on a variety of documentaries, shorts and now features – I think the one thing that remains constant through everything that I do is my concern with representing alternatives to the mainstream perspective. The idea of an overwhelming meta-narrative still holds a lot of sway in India and partly I think a lot of what I do is a response to that impulse. I am interested in rebels, muckrakers, people whose voices don’t necessarily get heard always – or just anyone else who is difficult.
4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
There are no fixed rules – since I work across a variety of forms. But I always try to immerse myself in the subject of my film for periods of time in isolation – to try and locate its essence. This usually means that I’m smoking, pacing around with nervous energy in my room when I’m in the throes of an idea – this feature is a constant before anything creative comes out of me!
5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
I like FCP, I like the Sony HD Cam, I like shooting now on mobile phones as well.
6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?
I think the possibility is immense, especially with mobile screens opening up as a financially viable source of content – I think New Media artists will find more and more innovative ways of reaching out to new audiences. What is exciting about New Media is that its located at an intersection of so many exciting things – filmmaking, technology, art, communication… the possibilities of experimenting with the permutations are endless in this space! This is what excites me the most about it.
7. How do you finance your films?
By working commercial projects for money.
8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team? If you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
I like to start and develop most projects alone – but beyond the initial conceptualization, I see every new project as an opportunity to collaborate with a new set of people. It’s a great way to get to know people well and there is a great deal of satisfaction to be derived – when people feel like they came together to create something truly worthwhile.
9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
No influence lasts very long – I find myself constantly attracted to new ideas, film styles. But I think of Herzog, Christopher Nolan and 70’s classic rock a lot.
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
Am developing a fiction feature – which I am writing and hope to direct. Besides that there is a feature documentary for next year and plans to make a full-length feature film, shot on a mobile phone – if I can raise the finances for it.