Q&A with Shanawaz Nellikunnil, dir. 405 - Clermont 2020
Friday 21 February 2020, by
Four-O-Five, the film, is about an un-named man in an un-named town, who has lost everything, including the love of an un-named girl because of an un-named sin committed by him at some point.
Here’s our video interview with the director and actor Dhaananjay Talwade.
There is a beautifully poetic quality to your film, and also a sense of loss and regret. What do you hope the audience will get out of it?
Thanks for the compliment, I want the audience to know what freedom really is; oftentimes we tend to forget what we have and always seem to focus on what we feel we don’t have.
There are slow and long takes in the film. Did you shoot your film that way to enable the viewer to really invest themselves emotionally?
I really wanted the audience to feel what I felt during the research process of the film. I interviewed a few life imprisonment convicts out on parole and a few jail wardens. In one of the interviews which went on for 3-4 hours, I was very tense and I also felt a fair deal of sadness for the convict even though he was trying to maintain a facade of relative happiness. The more time I spent with him, the more I started feeling empathy towards his circumstances. I felt that the best way I could portray this in the film was by making the viewers watch the character till they get uncomfortable.
What do you hope to explore in your film?
Before we started the film we were very clear that we didn’t want to create something which would be “viral” content, as most of the short film distributors in India are looking for short films with big stars, or with big bang endings and a fast pace which are designed for online viewers. My producer was very clear that she would wait for the film to evolve organically rather than change our vision based on the market. If we manage to find a good distributor, it will set an example for future filmmakers to explore a wider range of subjects in their work.
Can you tell us a bit about the filming process?
It was a short and sweet shooting schedule with a limited crew. The location we shot in is the most used place in India for film shootings. The main challenge we faced was to not repeat the same location or give the sense of the location. We travelled across the entire state to find the right space. Our pre-production process was very strong, so when it came to shoot it, it was more about time management. Of course, like any other shoot we had some hurdles but the team worked hard to stay together and finish the shoot. It was somewhat difficult to also understand how to make the film work without dialogue – that’s where my background score helped. My actor went through a certain change in his look and body language and we constantly tried to reimagine how the character would feel at the very given moment in the scene.
What sort of freedom would you say the short format allows?
Short films are fun because one gets complete freedom to break structure and storytelling norms. It’s more challenging in terms of making and selling the film. I really hope that in the future, short films are taken more seriously when it comes to distribution.
What do you consider your cinematographic references?
I’ve been watching a lot of films over the last 20 years. Filmmakers like Wes Anderson and Wong Kar-wai (among many) inspire me a lot to go beyond reality when it comes to creating a space or mood. But I have obviously tried to ultimately create my own style or space.