India’s First Full-Length Guerilla Feature Film
Language: (Tamil/English) • Director: Shyam Madhavan Sarada • Producer: Wannabe Studios
Synopsis: Chopper (David Williams), an Australian drug dealer, arrives in Chennai looking to make a ‘purchase’. He befriends Charlie (Ramar Ramamoorthy), a local tourist guide who arranges to supply the ‘stuff’. He also ‘cultivates’ a mule — Jenny (Dawn Akemi), an American tourist — to carry the drugs to Goa and then to Sydney… The deal is all set to go through. Dev (Kabirdas Madhavan), the ‘supplier’, arrives from Bangalore… but so do Thambi (Kalloori Kamatchi), Charlie’s scumbag-friend, and Heera (Heera Selvaraj), his ‘love’ interest. All hell breaks loose and after a series of twists and turns, everyone reveals their true colours.
Ramar Ramamoorthy (Feature Debut)
David W. Williams (Feature Debut)
Kabirdas Madhavan (Feature Debut)
Premiere: Global Cinema Festival, 2009
Most small-time filmmakers, hobbyists and aspirants are wary of taking that important first step towards chasing their movie dreams. Thanks to all those horror stories about ill-fated projects that have cost people their money, careers, even their lives, they are constantly plagued by self-doubt and tough questions.
Is it really worthwhile? Will it be always be a “losing game”? Will I ever make money out of it? Will I ever be able to become a “real” filmmaker? These are questions that aspirants find difficult to answer — to themselves and to those who have invested in their projects. So much so that many of them choose to give up their filmmaking dreams, convincing themselves that it is “not for me”, rather than risk going the whole hog.
Some of the more motivated among them who begin projects find it next to impossible to proceed — for want of funds, a good team, adequate support or sometimes just encouragement from others like them.
This is where Wannabe Studios, my online network for independent filmmakers and aspirants, hopes to make a difference. One of the primary objectives of Wannabe Studios is to produce movies through borderless collaboration, and without the big budgets. A sort of “I have the bricks, do you have the mortar” kind of concept of doing things together by pooling talent, equipment and knowledge/expertise. Next, of course, is to make our movies commercially viable. Mind you, the focus is not on commercial/box office “success”, but viability — in order to prove that it can make business sense, given the right content. It need not be an “all is lost” scenario every time!
The internet will always be different things for different people and once someone learns to sift through the chaff, it is quite rewarding. Especially when it comes to community building and offline networking. Not to mention finding news and information, honing your skills, promoting your film, finding distribution, discovering talent and a lot more, very useful things. This is of some significance in the indie world, for no-budget and low-budget filmmaking in particular, as networking enables us to become a ‘collective force’ much like what Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures postulates.
Our first such project is the no-budget (around US$ 7000 spent) guerilla feature film ONAN (Tamil/English), which is the result of an online collaboration among 15 people (11 of them members of the Wannabe Studios network) from 7 different countries, across 4 continents. I have been told that this is a first — it definitely is one of ONAN’s USPs. And as far as I know, it is India’s first full-length guerilla feature film. I think that’s a good start! The project was conceived, developed, discussed and planned through a process of “online only” collaboration — no expensive international phone calls, no time-consuming conferences, no snail mail, nothing offline whatsoever.