Preparing for an Audition Call

insta summer (3)Receiving an Audition Call is the most exciting thing to happen to an Artist. It is an opportunity towards getting selected for your dream role. A very few percentage of Actors get selected for Series like “Big Bang Theory” and “Friends” where they become household names, and even few get to become Acting Legends. It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. The first step to this journey is an “Audition Call

Audition calls come suddenly and it is important that an Actor is ready. When you do get that call, you need to be prepared with the essentials in your bag:

  • WORK DEMO: If you have done some work previously, its always great to carry a short demo with you of your best work so the Director or Casting Agent can be familiar with your work. Carry it in your phone. If someone asks, you can immediately whastApp it to them.
  • Photos & Resume: Always carry a set of Pictures of yourself and your Resume. Be familiar with what is in requirement in the Industry. Have a set of Ethnic, Western and Casual. Or whatever genre it is that you intend to audition for. A Close, Mid and Long gives a reasonable idea of you. Keep the pictures and the Resume pinned together. Always ask if the Director would like a copy of your resume and then leave it with them. Don’t just thrust it on the table. Some like it whatsApped, emailed, hardcopy. Everyone is different. Let those photos reflect the best you. If you are going for a Wedding Themed Audition, don’t leave Swim Suit pics. You want to be Selected, right?
  • Prepare: Always have a few Monologues and Acts prepared previously. Updating them regularly. Some Casting Agents send monologues in advance and some give it to you on the spot.  You cannot Audition without being prepared. Don’t waste the Director’s time. Show respect and build a reputation for being a prepared actor. Even if you didn’t fit the bill, but made a good impression, the Casting Agent and Director will remember you. So, be Honest and forthright. They are good judges of character and can spot a fraud miles away.
  • Know Your Genre: Many Actors go for auditions without knowing what they can do and what the Director wants. Be clear about what you are prepared to do and what you wouldn’t do at all. If it is a role of an 80 year old, and you could play it but you don’t want to do it because you think you would be stereo typed. Don’t go. If the Casting is for a 6 pack Boxer or Martial Artist and you are a one Packer with no Boxing background except that you watched Ali last night on Netflix, Don’t go. Many Actors line up randomly in Mumbai for all the auditions without understanding what their working characters are. You don’t need to go for all the Auditions, you need to go for some important Auditions.
  • Be Flexible: Don’t Argue. Casting Directors and Directors are looking for a character in you. They might watch your performance and give you notes and advice on how you could improvise and present again. If they do that, then it means they find potential. Listen to them and incorporate the feedback into your performance. They know what they want for their Casting to go right. You might have practiced the part many times in front of your roommate but your roommate is not Casting you. If you argue, it means you are stubborn and unwilling to improvise. Directors don’t want to work with Actors who can’t listen, improvise and apply.

Don’t forget to come in for an audition, early, it allows your nerves to relax and know your surroundings. Oh hey… remember to be confident and positive; and most importantly carry a happy smiling face. Goodluck!

Remembering Bergman

The award- winning Swedish Filmmaker is considered a master of modern cinema and has inspired many with his style.

“No form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul.” – Ingmar Bergman

Ernst Ingmar Bergman was born in Uppsala, Sweden to a Lutheran minister of Danish descent, Erik Bergman (later chaplain to the King of Sweden), and his wife, Karin. He is one of the most influential film directors in history; even influencing and inspiring the likes of Woody Allen, and Wes Craven.

Bergman always found the writing of a script a tedious job nevertheless he wrote his own scripts. He preferred to think about them for months, even years before actually writing them. Most of his earlier films were based on his plays or written in collaboration with other authors; this could be one of the reasons why his films were very structured and precise. In his later works, Bergman stated that he gave the actors some leverage when his actors wanted to experiment. Later on, he increasingly let his actors improvise on their dialogues. He took a lot of risks; he was known to form ideas and scenes and allowed his actors to determine the exact dialogue.

“We must live”, says the pastor in Bergman’s “Winter light” to a man contemplating suicide. “WHY must we live?” retorts the man. This question occupies a central place in Bergman’s works and life. Ingmar Bergman aimed at exploring the nature of the human condition. Majority of his films dealt with the rather bleak subjects of suffering, loneliness, solitude, sterility, somberness and the anguish of the soul.

Most of Bergman’s films consist of close-ups of faces, ticking clocks and a forceful use of shadows in order to intensify the moment. “I don’t watch my own films very often. I become so jittery and ready to cry… and miserable. I think it’s awful,” Bergman, 85, had said in a rare interview on a Swedish TV.

Bergman working on “Wild Strawberries”

Bergman’s 60-year career has spanned intense classics like “Cries & Whispers”, “The Seventh Seal”, “Wild Strawberries” and “The Virgin Spring”. He has been nominated for nine Oscars himself, while his films have won Oscars won best foreign film three times.

Although Bergman was known for his contribution to cinema, he was in fact a stage director and producer all his life. He managed and directed most prestigious theatres in Sweden, notably the Malmö city theatre in the 1950s and the Stockholm Royal Dramatic Theatre, as well as the Residenz-Theater of Munich, Germany (1977-84). Many of his actors in film were people with whom he began working on stage, and the “Bergman troupe” of his 1960s films consisted of actors from Malmö’s city theatre.

Bergman was chosen the world’s greatest living filmmaker by “Time” magazine (11 July 2005). He retired from filmmaking in 1984, and then in 2003, at the age of 85, he retired from directing plays.

Mr. Bergman often talked about what he considered the dual nature of his creative and private personalities. “I am very much aware of my own double self,” he once said. “The well-known one is very under control; everything is planned and very secure. The unknown one can be very unpleasant. I think this side is responsible for all the creative work — he is in touch with the child. He is not rational; he is impulsive and extremely emotional.”

Bergman’s obsession with death subsided with time. “When I was young, I was extremely scared of dying,” he said. “But now I think it a very, very wise arrangement. It’s like a light that is extinguished. Not very much to make a fuss about.”

Ingmar Bergman died at his home on Fårö, Sweden, in the early morning of July 30, 2007, aged 89. The rock band Van Halen wrote, “The Seventh Seal” as an ode to his films.


Writer: Puja Goyal, Published: Vijay Times

Where the Mind is without Fear

Though a powerful medium, documentary films face censorship, dearth of finance, and most of all, audience apathy, Puja Goyal reports on the state of Documentary Films in India.

Documentaries have been made in one form or another in nearly every country. Documentary film-makers have made bold and provocative statements through their films, describing their societies, cultures, etc through this relatively mordern medium. Defined as a film or television program, presenting political, social, or historical subject matter in a factual and informative manner and often consisting of actual news, films or interviews accompanied by narration has contributed significantly to the development of realism in films.

Documentaries Then…

In the post- independence era, documentaries have been consistently following the progress and development of the country. In the fifties and sixties they were a medium to educate the masses with the aim of modernization and creation of a democratic culture.
The films were compulsorily featured as a secondary film before the main shows of commercial cinema…. But for the audience this was the time utilized by the audience to get their regular ration of popcorn or was an indicator to make their entry and exit before the main feature started. Filmmaker Sushma Veerappa says… ‘…In those times, the narration of documentary films were predictable and boring. The issues were not looked in black and white.’

The Films Division in India, which was established in the year 1948, by the government of India, commissioned most documentary films. Large sum of money was invested in the making of movies. Films Division of India presently holds more than 8000 titles on Documentaries, Short Films and Animation Films in its archives. These films range from events of Socio-cultural importance to Political events. It was not only done to encourage filmmaking in India but also aimed at the making of movies commensurate with aspects such as agriculture, family welfare and defence. The aim was to record all progress and happening events in the country.

Distribution of these movies would be done through the state governments, National Television (Doordarshan), Department of Family Welfare, educational institutions and voluntary organizations; for distribution. The films Division even holds MIFF every two years to recognize these filmmakers and directors.

Indian documentary had stressed on the collective and has overlooked personal perspectives. Filmmakers had expenses to be covered and spending money imposed on them the necessity to record all political data. The political views had to be rationally evaluated and it preceded the more realist aspects of filmmaking.

Some of the pioneers of documentary filmmaking were Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, who created a secular image that disallowed mythical overloads. Ray captured the rise of the Naxalites in the late sixties, in films like Pratidwandi (1970) and Seemabaddha (1971).

In the 1980’s, it was the invasion of the television and documentary films were used to fill up empty spaces on-air. Documentaries were mostly aired when the viewer ship was the least. Most documentaries were funded by the state, and independent filmmakers were held at its mercy.

The subject chosen by the filmmakers’ consisted of issues that the state thought showed a safer picture of the country. Subjects like culture, art and modernization were popular and the real subjects that were supposed to be documented were ignored. On the bright side there was a boom in independent filmmaking and these independent filmmakers became a medium to provide us with a reality check.

Rahul Roy, a filmmaker since 1987 said in a telephonic interview, that when he started off there were not many people who made documentary films. They had hoped then that with the advent of more television channels, documentary filmmakers would find more avenues to exhibit movies but sadly the opposite happened.

Globalization in the 1990’s resulted in documentary films being a medium that provided radical evidence to investigative reports. These documentaries were made in order to enhance the stories presented by the news channels.

Since most film documentaries were made under the guidance and support of the government, the filmmakers had to adhere to the norms and make films that would commensurate with the government’s image. While in the 1990’s a change was registered. More and more filmmakers started to work independently with the help of foreign funds or personal funds. This resulted in them making movies that spoke of self rather than state. The movies became more public sensitive and started to emphasize more on what is not done instead of what’s already done. There was a phenomenal change in the way a documentary film was perceived. The primary impulse, which was to contribute to political struggles, had now been converted to identifying the self along with the state. A marginal break with tradition had started.

The Scene Now..

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in August 2003 wanted to make Censor Certificates a mandatory precondition for Indian Documentaries entering into the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF2004). The documentary filmmaking community saw through this and recognized it as an effort initiated by the ministry to exercise control. The right to free speech and creative expression were under threat; in a reaction to this, over 300 Indian documentary filmmakers initiated a ‘Campaign against Censorship’.

The attempt to ‘officially’ censor films entered into MIFF2004 was foiled and the organizers tried ‘unofficial’ techniques by means of manipulating the selection procedure. Films that covered issues like communalism, destructive ‘development’, globalization, women’s rights, and oppression of marginalized communities were rejected.

In February 2004, Mumbai was the seat where a six-day long festival of documentary films under Vikalp: Films for Freedom was held running parallel to MIFF 2004. The festival showed all films that were rejected by MIFF as well as films withdrawn from MIFF by filmmakers.

Controversial subjects have been a part of documentary films from ages, be it the Naxalites in Ray’s film or the rise of the RSS and its Hindutva ideologies (The Men in the tree directed by Lalit Vachani).

The issue of censorship is not new. Filmmakers like Anand Patwardhan, Rakesh Sharma and Rahul Roy have continuously battled this issue. Films like ‘War and Peace’ (directed by Anand Patwardhan) that portrays misplaced patriotism instigated by politicians and ‘The Final Solution’ (directed by Rakesh Sharma) which is a study of the politics of hate and examines the consequences of Hindu-Muslim polarization in the state, have been under constant bombardment even though they have won international acclaim.

Why were these filmmakers taken to task? Why is it that the government felt threatened and responded immediately to the exhibition of these movies with the help of censorship? Anand Patwardhan says, “we need to make a point and that’s what scares them (the government)”. Surabhi Sharma director of Aamakaar adds “maybe the government sees it as a threat”. Surabhi Sharma director of Aamakaar adds “maybe the government feels insecure about these films and sees it as a threat”. Sushma Veerappa reflected on the situation by saying, “There is a lot of policing happening in films and the government wants a singular identity”, Rahul Roy is quick to add, “Freedom of expression was hampered and stifled, the only thing that the board cared about was the films that were critical about the government and later on lots of other subjects were targeted.”

Censorship is not the only issue that filmmakers are facing. Rahul admits that documentary filmmaking is not profit oriented. It involves a lot of hard work and self-initiation. This does not apply to India only but throughout the world… Along with this there is this issue of funding/finance. Surabhi on the other hand does not see it as a problem and believes that through careful planning all the problems can be tackled effectively. The important thing is whether you are passionate about your job.

‘Documentary films do have an audience, but an invisible one’… says Rahul. They’re not staged exorbitantly but in a smaller scale and constitute reaching out to people through schools and colleges, private screening in rural and urban areas etc. Roy is positive about one thing though… filmmaking has now become cheaper and with the advent of new technologies, editing and initiating the process of making good documentaries have become more accessible.

More youngsters are making documentaries now. They want to have a voice; they want to form their own opinion instead of being fed with someone else’s and they want to explore the world on their own terms. The scene has shifted from making films depicting progress of the country under the prevailing government, to concentrating on issues that have not been addressed. The focus now, is not on unrealistic situations but an effort has been made to bring to the forefront real issues of the people.

Most filmmakers when enquired about what they want or expect of the viewers and public, have a simplistic desire. Surabhi said, “Come watch and appreciate our movies and efforts…” Sushma’s view is that it is important that people watch before forming an opinion.

Bangalore Buzz:

Bangalore has periodically witnessed outbursts of civil rights consciousness, is going to witness this big festival of documentary films between 29th July and 1st August at the JSS Auditorium. Films for freedom is going to cover subjects like the politics, feminism, growth, and urban development issues etc. The festival will feature films which were either censored, or withdrawn from MIFF.

Some of the films in the festival include, ‘The City Beautiful’ by Director Rahul Roy; it is a story of two families in Sundar Nagri, a small working class colony in Delhi, struggling to make sense of a world which keeps pushing them to the margins. ‘Words on Water’ directed by Sanjay Kak speaks of people of the Narmada valley who have been resisting for the past 15 years, the making of dams on their river thereby exposing the deceptive heart of India’s developmental politics. ‘In the Flesh’ by Bishaka Dutta provides an intimate insider’s account of what it is like to be in prostitution.

Other films to be featured include, Laden is not my Friend (Bikramjit Gupta), Naga Story- The other side of Silence (Gopal Menon), Manjuben Truckdriver (Sherna Dastur) Man Dam (Abhivyakti), and many more.

Haunting Questions…

Why is it that some people are allowed to show their movies and we are not? Why is it that there are biases in the treatment of the same subject? Why is it that people are not allowed to be witness to all angles of a story before forming an opinion? Most of all, why is it that an attempt is made to censor us every time we speak? Are some of the questions that filmmakers’ want answers to.

When Rabindranath Tagore wrote his famous poem, ‘Where the mind is without fear’ he was certainly referring to a country where its citizens are allowed to think without barriers and express their opinion, in other words allowed to ‘exist’.

It is an appalling situation when a person has to fight for his life because he has exercised his right to speech while scrupulous individuals want to hunt him down in the name of the state.

Are we free? Are we caught in a situation where reasoning and discretion is sacrificed in the name of the state?

Perhaps the last question is the most crucial and thought provoking… what is the essence of a state/ society/ individual that asks you to relinquish the state of your existence?

(Writer: Puja Goyal, Published 2004, Vijay Times)

A War Time Director

Helmut Käutner helped Germany exorcise its disturbing past. Puja Goyal visits the well-known director’s on going film exhibition in Bangalore.

kaeutner_helmut_BRHELMUT KÄUTNER (born March 25, 1908, Düsseldorf, Germany; died April 20, 1980, Castellina, Italy), a German film director, actor, and screenwriter; was known as one of the most intelligent and humanistic directors of the Third Reich and he remains a leading figure in German cinema today.

Käutner began his professional career in 1931 as a writer, director, and performer for the Munich Student Cabaret troupe Die vier Nachrichter (The Four Executioners). His directorial debut in 1939, Kitty und die Weltkonferenz (Kitty and the World Conference), gently satirised German-Italian relations and portrayed a British cleric in a sympathetic manner which was not well taken by Joseph Goebbels, Hitlerís minister of propaganda. Käutner then began to avoid political subject matter during Germany’s engagement in the war.

Most of Käutner’s wartime films were musicals or romantic fantasies. He was especially praised for his light, deft touch with romantic comedy and for innovative, swirling camerawork he employed for grand scale musical numbers. These can be experienced in films such as Kleider machen Leute (1940; Clothes Make the Man), the tale of a humble tailor mistaken for a Russian prince, and Auf Wiedersehen, Franziska! (1941; Goodbye, Franziska!), which concerns the marital troubles between a reporter and his neglected wife.

One of Käutner’s best film was Romanze in Moll (1943; Romance in a Minor Key), an adaptation of Guy du Maupassant’s short story Les Bijoux. It is a traditional love-triangle story; and was praised for its compositional perfection and technical virtuosity. Käutner’s last film was Unter den Brücken (1945; Under the Bridges)- a movie made under the arduous conditions of the final days of war, when filming was frequently interrupted by the noise of Allied bombers en route to Berlin. It is considered one of the greatest love stories in the history of German cinema.

His highly regarded and financially successful film from this period is Die letzte Brücke (1954; The Last Bridge), which won the International Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Käutner’s success during this period won him a contract with Universal Pictures in 1957. His two American- made films were The Restless Years (1958) and A Stranger in My Arms (1959), which features a memorably neurotic performance by Mary Astor.

Post World War II has changed the way the world looks at German cinema, and how cinema is being produced German filmmaker, Hans-Jurgen Syberberg directed a shocking documentary, The Confessions of Winifred Wagner. In the film, Winifred talks about her cultural and political influence during the Third Reich. Winifred cannot contain her amusement when she recalls that after the collapse of the Third Reich, she was the only person left in Germany who would admit that she was a Nazi.

The New German cinema of the 1960s and 1970s provided the Federal Republic with an opportunity to distinguish itself from a dictatorship that nationalised all cultural produce: a regime that turned film into an agency of Nazismís reactionary ideology.

Käutner was a victim of political pressure; his work was largely influenced by officials and reflected on the quality of cinema produced in Germany. On the other hand artists like Hans-Jurgen Syberberg did not hesitate to come to terms with their situation and talk about how the fall of the Third Reich and its influences have affected them.

These films could be viewed as acts of mourning; indicating that Germans were “coming to terms” with a past they had defensively lived in denial with and for which they began to accept responsibility. The exhibition of Käutner’s films is going on in Max Mueller Bhavan which will serve to ultimately exorcise a past that has had an undeniably disturbing impact upon the German name.

Published: Sunday Vijay Times, 06 August 2006, Centrestage