Technical Workshop for Filmmakers

KALLOLA 2018’- Short Film Contest on Child Rights
Theme: Water & Children (Safe Water: every child’s right!)

A day long work shop / interactive session with film makers who registered with Kallola, was held on the 11th of Sept 2018 at Hotel Hindustan International, Bhubaneswar as per schedule. It was attended by a total of 60 participants, members of Aaina, Unicef , resource persons and partner bodies .

The workshop started off with welcome address by Ms Jyoshna Sahoo of Aaina, who briefed the audience about the contest. She said that Kallola -4 was launched on 17th of July this year, and has a microsite of its own describing the entire process , theme, rules and regulations of the contest and also online registration opportunity. It also has a face book page this year. She urged more and more people be reached out ,so as to ensure a good number of participation. She also reminded the participants that October 10th would be the last date of receiving the entries. She spoke about the Jury session, the children jury and the 5 awards to be given away at the award event. She also mentioned that these films would be disseminated as advocacy tools, through government partnerships, Alankar TV, uploaded in Aaina website and in Youtube so as to reach more and more audience .

This introductory session was followed by a brief introduction of the participants and other members of the audience present in the workshop.

The first speaker to address the gathering was Jury chair Mr Ananta Mohapatra. His was a brief but interesting talk on the concept of film making. He started by asking how many sense organs does one need to make a film or to communicate a message to people! The answer of course was eyes, ears, mind hands etc..His main message was that since the film would be of 30/60/90 sec duration, the message had to be very sharp and focused. He went on to give an example in form of a story where 6 blind people were asked to describe an elephant. As expected, someone touched the legs and hence concluded the elephant looked like a pillar. Similarly someone touched its tail and said its like a rope and so on and so forth. Everyone had their own version, which was correct in its own partial way but no one got the complete picture right. Mr Mohapatra then explained that a film maker had to use all his senses to get the complete picture right and they should always remember that they are making the films for the audience and not for themselves. The focus has to be sharp, just like Arjuna in Mahabharata, Where he was asked to pierce the eye of the bird and he saw nothing but the eye he had to aim for. He ushered each of the film maker to act like Arjuna, be focused and keep the message crisp.

The next speaker was Ms Alka Gupta from Unicef who spoke on “Understanding child rights” She started off by asking what the participants understood by “Rights”. There were several answers to the question, eg right to education, right to freedom of speech and expression, right to equality etc..She very interestingly pointed out that most of us enjoyed our rights without much awareness, taking those rights for granted. She then moved on to explaining rights of children. Children also have rights and as adults its we who are entrusted to ensure them those rights. Many say that children are the citizens of tomorrow but in reality they are actually citizens of today, just like us. They too have rights that need to be protected. As history goes, years back, when the industrial revolution was just getting started in the western world the state of children was abysmal. They were used for daily household chores and even hard labour . Their condition was extremely bad. There was no special consideration or thinking for the children . During the early years of world war –II, the stare of children further deteriorated as poverty hit families. There was no food. Families went homeless. It was during that time that discussions on child rights started among Governments of different countries, International organizations and NGOs and many years later in 1989 the convention of rights of children was formulated, and is popularly known as UNCRC and till date 109 countries have signed the convention.

As per UNCRC, the 4 main rights of children are:

Right to survival, which means a healthy mother, clean hospital for child birth and required follow up check ups and vaccinations, proper nutrition for both mother and child

Right to development, which again means age appropriate proper balanced diet, access to education & play, access to clean and safe water and sanitation. If the child isn’t healthy, he/ she can’t go to school or get proper education. So rights of children are actually interlinked.

Right to protection, which means children, being young and helpless need to be protected from all harm that can be caused to them. Violence against children is so rampant in forms of child labour, corporal punishment, sexual abuse, child marriage and many more. It’s our duty as adults to protect the children from such violence and ensure their right to protection.

Right to participation, which means that every child has a right to his / her opinion and it’s our duty to ensure them the environment to express their thoughts /opinions freely without hesitation or fear.

Ms Gupta’s in her speech advised the participants that some amount of research and study will help participants understand their theme better. She also reminded them that alongside the theme of ‘water’ the films need to focus on the children’s issues relating to water. She said ,just like the workshop gave her an opportunity to meet and interact with the participants on the topic of ‘child rights’ , it would also act as an opportunity for the participants to explore and get a deeper and stronger insight on this issue while making the films. She also shared a short film with the participants.

Presenting the theme of the year “Safe water- Every child’s right” the next speaker was Mr Ranjan Panda, an expert on water issues , and popularly known as ‘The water man of Odisha’ He began by asking the audience ‘What is water?’ There were different opinions that came up. Some said Water was life, some said it was existence, others said it was recreation /play for children and some said it was refreshment. Mr Panda however came up with an interesting point of view by saying that water was lost childhood. Everyone in the audience seem to agree as images from their childhood perhaps came alive for a moment. He informed the audience that consumable water is only 3% of the total water available on earth .Water scarcity and contamination are two of the biggest challenges that children across the world are facing today. And as adults responsible for safeguarding the rights of children its our prime duty to ensure clean and safe water, as well as a joyful healthy childhood with easy access to safe water.

The various different issues related to scarcity or contaminated water , that effect children are as follows:

  • Be it urban or rural areas children are often seen drawing /fetching water from tube wells, wells, rivers or ponds. They could be on their own or with their parents. So instead of being in school and studying or playing they are forced by circumstances to do such chores .
  • Long queues near water tankers /tube wells /wells are a common sight in India. A lot of times there are conflicts in these areas between competing water fetchers, endangering children present there. Its not just the physical harm that they are exposed to ,but they also have to go through mental trauma of having to witness such violent incidents, where even their own parents might be involved.
  • Another issue that arises out of having to go to a pond for bathing is the danger of sexual abuse mostly for the girl child. Very often they have to face obscene comments and eve teasing.
  • Discrimination on grounds of caste creed and religion is yet another problem that is prevalent in rural areas. Access to water is denied to people of a certain caste or religion, forcing them to go much longer distances to fetch water.
  • Many times the women folk who have to go long distances to fetch water would have to give up breastfeeding a young infant while its crying n hunger.
  • Menstrual hygiene is yet another aspect that gets adversely affected due to scarcity of clean water.
  • Sanitation and proper toilet hygiene are impossible without access to water.
  • Access to water is not enough , the water has to be safe and not polluted or contaminated.
  • Water can get contaminated at the source , while being distributed or even at the point of use.
  • Children often play in wet paddy fields or dirty puddles and get infected .
  • The recent situation in Kerala is a big example of contaminated water that may lead to epidemics.

Mr Panda repeatedly emphasized the role clean and safe water in the life of a child. Water plays an integral part in the childhood of every person. Not just for drinking bathing or cleaning but also for playing and rejoicing, which fall under the rights of children. He lauded the wide spread campaign on “Hand washing” by Unicef and said it had a huge impact in behavior change leading to better hygiene

He showed a few films on the theme to provide a directive to the participants and urged them to make films with a sharp, focused and crisp message that would inspire people to think differently. He also suggested that through their films they might show children themselves playing a role in promoting conservation of water or preventing contamination, as children can be the biggest tools for change. He also assured the participants that if anyone wanted to discuss the theme or get clarification on the subject they could leave a message in the home page of Kallola and he would respond.

The list of films suggested by Mr Ranjan Panda

Mr Panda’s session was followed by a brief and fun warm up exercise by Ms Smriti Mohanty of Aaina.

Communication Expert Mr Biren Das was the next speaker with the topic ‘How to make impactful film for social change through strong story telling /content’ .He started off by saying film making is actually a fun experience. He went on to show the audience 4 films that he had selected.

A film by Devdutt Patnaik called Devlok, a film on Balkrishna Dashi , a film on water harvesting and a commercial advertisement of Dhara Oil.

With these films and techniques used he tried to explain the difference between commercial marketing and social marketing. He also explained that the latter was much more tough than the former. He advised the participants on aspects of film making which are as follows:

  • Its very important to understand your target group, which segment of society do they belong to and their profile.
  • Audience research though cumbersome, can be very helpful. You can gain an insight into their behavior, knowledge, attitude and practice
  • Content development is yet another area of importance. Always try to develop your own content /your own story. Original thoughts are best portrayed.
  • Your concept should have clarity and always avoid clutter. Too much information can be confusing and takes away from the main message
  • Your story telling has to be impactful. Always remember that visual narration is more powerful. Your visuals should be creative enough to move and influence your audience.
  • He also pointed out that timing of films in general are actually shrinking. The advertisements in the past used to be of almost 2 min. Now-a-days they have shrunk to 10 sec ! Hence creating an impactful film the in given time frame would have to be the main motto.

This was followed by a brief talk by Ms Ayesha Mohanty who took the participants through a tour of the facebook page of Kallola. She requested all the participants to visit, like and share the page and also suggest captions on the 3 stills uploaded in the page.

This was followed by lunch and the opening speaker post lunch was noted film maker Mr Baikunth Panigrahi who spoke on ‘Technical input-camera, sound, perspective, packaging’ He began by saying that anyone can make a film as film is nothing but a form of expression. Its necessarily a form of story telling. At the end, all films are nothing but stories.

His speech can be summarized in the following points:

  • Short films can be made just by one person. No big team is required .He himself can decide when where & how.
  • Short film is nothing but an art of story telling. Most people watch films only to be told stories.
  • They should be always be to the point with a clear message. Most film makers[i]seem to enjoy the challenge of being able to tell a story in such a short time
  • One need not necessarily search for complex themes. Stories are all around us, all we need to do is observe keenly. The best short films are actually a single moment that is played out, but has a story in its heart.
  • Short films are gateways to our dreams, a world of imagination transformed into moving images.
  • Avoid stereotypes unless you have a fresh point of view
  • Always remember films are about telling a story through visuals. So show as much visuals information as you can in that limited time frame.
  • Ensure a good beginning , a great middle and a satisfying ending. Write your own story ,do not borrow. Do not discard the practicalities of writing of writing a script.
  • Create a story board and determine the flow of the film and the sequence of its scenes.
  • Scout for film locations and get required permissions wherever necessary.
  • Select a camera that you are comfortable with. You can shoot even in your smart phone. Camera angle is what is most important.
  • Sound editing is very important as it can impact the scenes heavily.
  • Go for shooting the film only once you are totally convinced with your story and concept.

The next speaker was mainstream film director Mr Susant Mani who spoke on ‘condensing issues into a short film format’ He started by explaining why people make films. The answer he said was for expressing one’s thoughts or ideas on a subject and for entertaining the audience .According to him, if films do not influence/ impact the audience, then its not a successful film. He then went to narrate the history of where films originated from. Its believed that in ancient days when verbal communication hadn’t started, people who went for hunting would share their interesting incidents from their hunting experiences in the forests by way of enacting the experience. Someone would play the hunter, someone the tiger or other animals and thus the first form of enactment took shape. The people used paints to dress uplike the tiger and thus was born the concept of make-up or costume. They would use fire torches to light up the place where they would enact and thus came the concept of lighting.

The salient features of his speech can be summarized as the following:

  • People make films to share their experiences /excitement and entertain their audience
  • Certain frames are more vividly used , for instance Sunset scenes and female forms
  • A film is considered a successful film only when the audience forgets that they’re watching a film and they become part of the story themselves. If one is aware that he/ she is watching a film, then the film has not met its purpose.
  • The success of the film depends totally on the content and its presentation. The same story can be told differently by different people and will have different impact levels.
  • The packaging of a film into a good beginning, a healthy middle and an interesting end is very important.
  • There is no definite grammar for a successful film, however content has to be powerful.
  • Sometimes the audience is so involved or engrossed in the content of the story, that minor flaws / lapses don’t even get caught.
  • Sound plays a very vital role in a film. Proper sound effects can raise the level of emotions in a film to large extent.

Mr Mani then went on to narrate an exercise that he had undergone at a workshop. They were asked to close their eyes and remain silent for a whole hour. In the beginning it did sound strange but later they felt that they were observing more and more sounds from their surroundings. When your eyes are closed, your ears perhaps grow sharper. Films are the result of observation and imagination.

He later went on to the technical aspect of film making in terms of structuring the shots/ joining the shots. He explained technically how to build up the story, the characters , move on to the final climax and the ending.

Mr Mani’s session was followed by a question answer session among the participants and team Kallola. Their doubts regarding the contest were clarified by Ms Jyoshna of Aaina.

She then explained in detail the process of online and offline submission of film entries for the contest. She also briefed them about the media guidelines to be followed while making the films. She then explained the microsite of Kallola topic wise, for better understanding of the participants.

At the end Mr Surya of Aaina, explained in detail the process of film submission through ‘We transfer’, to facilitate the participants on the procedure.

With that the workshop came to an end with a group photo of all participants, resource persons and team kallola. It remained quite successful as participants seemed excited about the exercise and team kallola has every reason to expects a large number of entries this year.