What was your filmmaking background before making Love, Wrinkle-free?
SANDEEP: I had made three short films, directed music videos, written scripts for television and been an advertising copywriter before. Also I started off my career as an Assistant Director to Sanjay Bhansali on a movie called Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like?
SANDEEP: Love, Wrinkle-free is based on my observations of what is happening in Indian cities of late. More and more people are getting obsessed with the way they look and there is a sudden increase in the number of skin clinics and botox centres and what-not everywhere. In a country that prided itself for its focus on "Internal growth" having offered the world the Yoga, this addiction to the “external" was interesting, especially for a storyteller.
The writing process is what I enjoy the most. Since I was unable to concentrate at home, I paid one of my close friends some small money, requesting him to offer a room in his house. He agreed, and I used to go there daily for 2-3 months where I sat and worked on the script of Love, Wrinkle-free without too much distraction. I used to go there at 10am in the morning and be back to my home by 6pm. It was a fun process.
I used to also go and sit in cafes and pubs to see whether what I am working on has any relevance to these guys and gals. Also I started watching middle-aged people more closely to understand what they would be going through and all this, I hope has helped me make an interesting movie
Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your financial plan for recouping your costs?
SANDEEP: After finishing the script, I had started a Blog. Soon one of my close friends from US, Giju John got involved and he wanted to set up a Production Company in India. Then we set up a website and went about the task of inviting people to invest in this project -in a crowd funding exercise. Later on, another friend, Kamal, got involved and soon we managed to raise just enough to make a small budget indie movie which is now successfully running in cinema halls
In India, indie movies find it really hard to stand out. But Love, Wrinkle-free has managed to woo the critics with very good reviews coming out on the first day of the release of the movie. Since there are not many cinema halls playing indie cinema, we will have to recoup our investment from other rights - like Satellite and DVD and Overseas rights. At this moment, talks are on with various people who are interested in acquiring the rights in India and abroad.
What camera did you use and what did you love and hate about it?
SANDEEP: We used the RedOne camera for our 22 day start to finish shoot in Goa.
The reviews which have been coming out are raving about the way Goa looks in the movie, and I am glad no one has even mentioned once that it is Digital! That feels great because that means that the audience has moved on and for them, story and treatment has become more important than the so-called-film look.
The great thing about shooting with RedOne was that since the camera is slightly bulky, most of the crew members treat it like a proper film shoot! Otherwise with smaller cameras, sometimes the crew starts to behave as if they are on a short film shoot. I am sure this is only my opinion and going forward I will use whatever camera that suits my story and budget
Sometimes, this very same factor, the bulkiness of the Redone camera was painful since we couldn't shoot Guerrilla style too much. For instance, if I have to go to market area and shoot, people suddenly become aware that a shoot is on seeing this big camera. So there are pluses and minuses, but overall I am very happy that we chose the RedOne. Love, Wrinkle-free looks beautiful:)
What was your post-production process like and how did it have an impact on the finished movie?
SANDEEP: The editing of the movie happened from my home, in my MacPro. Once my editor Shreyas and I finished with the cut, then we took it out to the Sound studios and Color correction studios. Working on the edit and the Sound is lotsa fun and I am sure we all know that the whole movie takes shape at this stage. Though one can't change the performance of actors, hence it is critical to focus on the performance while on location since a few other things can be worked on and improved during the post.
My whole focus was on telling a simple story, since the budget and time were not there. Even in the edit, all the decisions were taken so as to keep the storytelling simple and smooth.
What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?
SANDEEP: The smartest thing that I did during production was to not travel in a car! I hired a scooter and traveled from our hotel to location and back. This way, the entire cast and crew realised and believed that we were on a small budget, which was the case. Also, having a scooter helped me since I could take off anywhere after the day's shoot. I used to go and sit at the beach to breathe in positive energy, which I would have exhausted during that day's shoot!
The dumbest thing that I did was to take the reigns of the camera for 20 minutes during a stressful day's shoot when it started raining suddenly and the DOP wanted to stop shooting. I was like a man possessed and told him to give the camera to me and started shooting whatever:) I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish the movie on time, hence that move. This was kinda dumb I assume!
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?
SANDEEP: I learned that I have to stay naive about the filmmaking process and be very open to ideas as well as strict when it is required. Also, the director has to lead from the front and a simple, clear line of communication has to be established between the actors, crew and him to make the whole process of shooting exciting for all.