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What is CINEMA?

We have been talking and seeing so many aspects of Cinema, that I asked myself the question, What is Cinema? Have any of you asked yourselves this question? Some very intellectual people term a movie as, “A series of still images which, when shown on a screen, creates the illusion of moving image.” The illusion, the biggest illusion is what all of us are amazed about and want to see and feel. Almost every single one of you would have watched a movie at some time or the other in your life. But, have you ever thought of how the movie came about to be? Who are all behind the making of a movie? How exactly is a movie made? We the viewers pay some money to watch a visual on the big screens in an air-conditioned theatre (not always). How actually, does the seed (the first step) of a movie come about to be?

“How much of work do you think is needed for a single shot to be made? The director – the captain of the ship, as say the media, with his team of assistants and associates, has to ensure that the shooting spot has all the things necessary for the scene to be shot”

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An individual, having a thought of bringing on screen something he has visualized and seen in his mind, begins to think of all the means. In earlier days, we had separate story and screenplay writers and directors. First the story was conceptualized, then a screenplay relating to it, written. Then a director came in to translate all this onto the big screen. But nowadays, the person who has the seed of a story germinating in his mind wants to translate it onto the big screen himself and turns director.

The individual has an inspiration over something he has already seen or experienced, or something he wants to happen or fantasises… He then weaves a yarn out of that concept and has a story ready. The individual then begins approaching the moneybags (can also be read as producers) and hopes he can find somebody to finance his dream. It is not an easy task at all. It is literally a dog’s life. After hundreds and thousands of rejections, he comes across somebody who shares his passion and wants to make a movie. The person then sets in motion the process of working on a screenplay – the scene by scene working of what we are going to see. After a lot of lengthy dialogues and discussions with his friends, assistants, associates and after extensive research, the individual comes up with a rounded out script with a break-up of every single scene, called the screenplay. Then he submits it to the producer, who in turn goes through it and decides who would best suit playing each character in the story on screen.

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The producer and director then sit through many discussions and finalise on who would best be suited for each part in the story. Then comes the part of finalizing the lead characters. The director would have had somebody in mind for playing the protagonist and the antagonist in his tale, but the expected star might not have the required dates in their call-sheet. Then the director and producer zero in on somebody to take up the lead roles. Sometimes, the existing story or the treatment might not suit the persons selected to play the lead roles. In these circumstances, the director is forced to rework his script and screenplay to suit the person who is going to portray his lead character. After this reworking is done, the director has to explain to the star how he wants them to be.

Sometimes the role might require a star to gain or lose weight, or learn some specific skills to suit the character. This might take some time for the star. Meanwhile, the director is left to work on the other requirements. When the lead star is ready, there might be a clash of dates for other stars, so the director has to work around the permutations and combinations to ensure that some scene or the other is canned when the lead star has allotted his dates.

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How much of work do you think is needed for a single shot to be made? The director – the captain of the ship, as say the media, with his team of assistants and associates, has to ensure that the shooting spot has all the things necessary for the scene to be shot. The required amount of lighting, props, camera equipment, make-up, food for all present and anything and everything else that the stars might fancy need to be made available on the spot. Of course, there are production assistants who take care of most of these, but it is the director’s responsibility to ensure that nothing is amiss. Then when everything else is ready, the director has to explain his scene’s requirements to the artists and extract the emotions he requires, out of them. Sometimes, if the director is lucky, he might get what he needs for a shot in a single take itself, but most of the times he has to go in for multiple takes to get the visual right.
When it comes to shooting songs, it’s a totally different ball game altogether. The director just explains what he wants to the dance choreographer, who then sets the moves for the song and then choreographs for the lines with his/her assistants. The assistants then patiently repeat the moves over and over again to the artists, till they are familiar with the moves. Then, the song is shot scene by scene. The song is played over and over so many times that by the time visuals for the complete song are shot, everybody on the sets would have heard the song hundreds of times.

For the action sequences, the director sits with the stunt choreographer and tells how he wants the sequences to be. Then, it is the duty of the stunt master to create the stunt scenes, in collaboration with his assistants. After some rehearsals, the stars perform the stunts and these are canned. Extreme caution is exercised, as the stars cannot afford to injure themselves and again it is the duty of the director to ensure proper safety measures are being followed.

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The director’s job does not end with the shooting alone. He then has to take care of the post-production work. The first step here would be to sit with the editor and take care of the snipping work. After getting the final cut ready, then comes the colouring work and the dubbing. If the movie requires graphics work, that also has to be done with extreme care and diligence. After the final product is ready, then comes the planning for the release. Sometimes, the production house themselves take care of the distribution also, but mostly it is not that way. The producers have to start canvassing other production houses to buy their movie from them. There are other things like the satellite rights and overseas rights also to be taken care of. After distributors opt for the movie, then comes the planning for the release date. With an average of 4-5 movies releasing every week, the competition should also be taken into account and the genre of the movie also plays a major role in determining the release date.

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When all this is done and the movie finally sees the light of day, reviews determine how the movie performs. At this juncture come the reviewers… There are good reviewers who watch the movie fully and give proper reviews, but there are also self-proclaimed critics who believe in gaining a reputation by slamming each and every part of the movie. If only they had the nous to put across their dislike in a softer way, it would be easier for the film’s makers and team. Above all these are the social networking cinema gurus, who feel that their biggest call of duty is to talk about all newly released movies. Atleast some of these so called experts take time to watch the first 10 minutes of a movie before beginning to post updates on their Facebook or Twitter accounts. Some of these people pick up lines from people who have watched the movie at earlier shows in foreign countries and pass it off as their own opinion, as if they themselves have watched the movie. Such people seldom think for them it is just another movie, but for the people who have slogged behind it, it is a dream; more like their child that they have conceived, nourished and nurtured till delivery (release). Some pathetic projects do deserve harsh reviews, but all I say is just that even the fact that the movie is very bad, can be put across with a little finesse…

– Vicky

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