From a film student to ad filmmaker to feature films, Abhishek Chandra is steadily making heads turn and more so quietly establishing a mark and place for Joker Films his production house he co-founded nearly 5 years ago. Excerpts from our hour long conversation with the young filmmaker/ producer:
Tell us more about yourself. What got you started in this field?
I was born in Kerala, brought up in Nepal. Did my schooling from Dehradun, graduated from Delhi and did my post graduation from Mumbai. I can understand almost 7 languages, speak 5. Growing up in Nepal, there used to be load shedding during summers and since my family runs a boarding school; lack of audience was never a problem. When the light went off, I used to sit with group of boarding kids and hold their attention for hours narrating one story after another. Mostly the comics i read or an english film i saw. I still fondly remember those times. One thing i was always sure of was that i will end up in this industry one way or another.
Was television commercials always the calling?
No. Not really. I like writing more. Directing TV Commercials doesn’t excite me much. Joker Films happened purely out of chance. After i completed film school, one of my college junior approached me and asked would i be interested in starting a production house? I knew him, he was already in the ad world. I just thought why not. We partnered up and Joker Films happened. Its been five years, and we have done some good work. We have bagged almost 16 metals over the years for our work with different ad agencies on award avs. Honestly, my main interest lies in feature films so till that happens i am happy producing commercials.
You’ve bagged the Grand Prix for your work at the Abby Goa Fest in 2014. Tell us more about the win.
We do a lot of award AVs for big advertising agencies. One of our work for The Genomusic Project by Bay Beat Collective won the Grand Prix. It was the brainchild of JWT-Mumbai. The actual credit should go to the agency team. We just executed it well. It feels good to be recognized and Grand Prix is definitely one of the highest honor. Our team is thrilled but we hope to continue the winning streak for coming years as well.
Producer and a director at such a young age. You manage a company as well and write feature films scripts. Do you get much time for yourself?
I am doing what i love, i have all the time in the world for myself. Besides, its not that big a deal. People younger than me are doing great work. I just hope my work reaches more people and they love jt equally more. I am really looking forward to this year as i have few projects i really want to put out there as soon as possible. And things are coming together. Lets hope for the best.
Indeed. When can we see you transition from ads to feature films?
Soon. I just finished my third script. And we are hoping to start rolling by this year end. That’s all i can say right now.
Apart from cinema, what else keeps you busy?
I am an avid traveller. I make sure i travel to a new place every two months, even if its just for a couple of days. In fact, most of my writing and my ideas come to me when i am travelling. Life’s a book, if you don’t travel you are stuck at the first page. My dad taught me that. My plan is to live in at least 100 countries before i die. Minimum 100. And given my profession its not too difficult i believe.
You’re a film student first and you’ve been working in the industry for the past five years. How different is the workings between a film school and the industry?
I am fortunate enough to have a film education before i entered the industry. And i would advice everyone who wants to pursue their dream in this field to get into a film school first. See, our film industry is the largest non-literate industry and i mean in terms of cinema study. A doctor or engineer is educated in their field first and then they start working. Here, we work and then learn the rope. There’s nothing wrong in that. Its actually more tough. You learn the art and technique of cinema from Z to A in the industry and it takes a long time to reach at your desired position. In a film school, you learn the process from A to Z. Film school prepares you in terms of the work and technicalities. You wouldn’t be wasting your or others time on a set if you are a film student. You are confident and know your stuff, because you have trained for it. But on the other hand, your learned techniques and art within starts taking a shape only once you start working in the industry. Work wise, film school is controlled and disciplined. And the film industry teaches you how to unlearn whatever you’ve learned and apply that to your best of abilities everyday.