Understanding the works of Independent filmmaker Haobam Paban Kumar
- Part 2 -

James Khangenbam *

Haobam Paban Kumar with his crew at Loktak Lake
Haobam Paban Kumar with his crew at Loktak Lake

Topic: Technician

Q: Tell me more about the role of your technicians.

A: While you are directing you canít think of everything. Obviously as a director you have to know everything. If you want a tension free shooting you should choose a good technician - Cameraperson, Sound Recordists and Editor.

Problems however small or big will arise during film shoot and you should rely on somebody who can solve the problems efficiently. Actually, when I shoot Loktak Lairembee all the crew members were my close friends. They believe in what I was doing which is very important.

If I ask any cameraman to shoot my film and if he does not understand my film, or believe in my style of film making it becomes very difficult. I always have the idea that the main crew members should have a similar philosophy with me. One should give utmost importance while choosing crew members.

Q : Do you shoot exactly what is written on the script or does it evolve with time ?

A : Script always evolves. In Loktak Lairembee, even if we have script in hand it evolved naturally according to the situation. Even the name of the film was also changed from the original name of the short story.

After my experience with the fishing community, I wanted to tell the story of Nongmei attuned to the fishing community. The script then evolved, developed and revolved around the story of a fisherman.

In the initial stage, Nongmei was the story of a person suffering from Nyctophobia (extreme fear of night or darkness) who changed his character after acquiring a gun. It has nothing to do with Loktak. The character of an old lady who represented a good soul was there in Nongmei, she ultimately became a surrealistic Loktak Lairembee (a goddess of Loktak Lake) in my film.

The idea about the film was to depict gun culture, chaos in the society and bringing about a change. While scripting, we have to come to a conclusion. In my film, the conclusion was drawn with a metaphor through the character of a Lairembee (goddess). Finally, we need to relook at our cultural values and belief system. There is always an argument if God exist or not but in my opinion the concept of what one believes holds true. If one believes that God exists than it exists otherwise not.

For a filmmaker, what he or she believes in gets reflected in scripting and script plays a major part of the film. The script other than the story is totally dependent on the filmmakerís philosophy.

Q: Which camera did you use for shooting Loktak Lairembee, any advice on the topic?

A: Everyone wants to shoot with a good camera. It depends on your budget when you choose a camera for shooting. I used a manageable camera, Canon 5D Mach 3 for my film Loktak Lairembee. I separately bought Cine lens to avoid issues on focus. I did not find Cine Lens for rent in Imphal as people seldom use. And if few Cine lens were available the conditions of the lens were not favorable.

In the case of camera before shooting, we should visualize how it will be during post production including color correction. Actually, everything should be discussed thoroughly with a production designer before the actual film shooting starts.

But in independent filmmaking if we do not engage a good cameraman, many problems arise in post-production. The cameraman should also know which frame rate should be chosen to suit color correction during post production. He should also know which frame rate suits best while making DCP output.

The video film trend is very detail nowadays. The digital camera is becoming like that of cinema or celluloid. There are lots of option in digital filmmaking now. Even if one is using a camera or sound equipment which are not high-end ones because of budget crunch, one should engage a very good technician to bring out the best use of the equipment in hand.

There should always be an impression that efforts for bringing out the best audio visual from whichever equipment in use were carried out. If the best camera is not used, one should use a camera which are at a certain level. In digital era, there is no room for error.

Topic : Script

Q : Is there a hard and first rule that we have to totally depend on the script ?

A : The discussion on script so far has been about my film ĎLoktak Lairembee. However, in general it is good to stick to the script while making a film.

I shot a film adapted from a short play written by MK Binodini - Ngaihak Lambida. In this 19 minutes film, what I did was that I scripted the whole film. Then I decided on a shot division of around 115 shots. I took only the decided shots nothing else.

For young filmmakers, be it in documentary or fiction, planning is very important, without discipline you can never do anything. Moreover, you have to be very practical as filmmaking is a technical medium.

While I was a student in Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute what I did in my diploma film was that, I may be right or wrong and I do not know the outcome of my film. But I took all the shots that I visualized before the actual shooting and no extra shots were taken. Because it was a learning process for me. At the end of the shooting, I had to face problem as I was not flexible that time.

One must pay full emphasis on script, I am not talking about the small changes on turning the face left or right in a particular scene. But one should not change a whole scene or sequence of the film.

In my case, what I did in Loktak Lairembee is that, I wanted the film to take me along, I wanted to develop the film according to the mood and make scenes according to the flow.

I am not discouraging people but when someone starts a career in filmmaking one should be very disciplined. Sticking with proper shot division or proper script is mandatory.

While going through the filmmaking process one would feel like doing something new. However, after acquiring the hands-on experience, one can take on with new aspirations. Why we are not skipping the first step is because it is a technical medium and we are telling stories with the help of audio visual outputs. So firstly, we need to get the knowhow of the medium in a proper way.

See a full photo gallery Part 1 | Part 2

To be continued ..

* James Khangenbam wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at jameslaphoi(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on November 25 2020 .

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