Friday, 21 December 2012
Interview: Navin Dev ((producer, writer, director)
Today we´re speaking with Navin Dev, the producer, writer and director behind Red Kingdom Rising.
J.L: What are some of your favourite films?
N.D: There’s a very wide selection of films that I’ve enjoyed and that have also inspired me to progress further as a filmmaker. It’s an eclectic range; from films such as ‘The Passion of the Christ’, Ron Fricke’s ‘Baraka’ 'Aguirre, the Wrath of God' to ‘Batman Begins’, ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ and 'Robocop'.
J.L: Who are some of your influences in your filmmaking?
N.D Each influence is respective of the particular project that I’m heading at the time. I’m a research nerd: I derive a great deal of influence from months of in depth research in literature, psychology, philosophy and artwork relevant to the particular project. Oddly enough, direct film influences on a particular project come towards the end of the research since I don’t like to blur the film I’m working on with others. Saying that, there are always a handful of films that always tend to influence every film I make – ‘The Passion of the Christ’ is one of them. The blending of cinematography, narrative, acting and sound in that film evokes a rare moment when a film becomes more of an experience. For my next film, a very, beautiful rare anime called 'The Belladonna of Sadness' by Eiichi Yamamoto is the main artistic influence.
J.L: I loved Red Kingdom Rising. Which films and what inspired you in the creation of Red Kingdom Rising?
N.D: ‘Valerie and her Week of Wonders’ was the main crucial film influence due to the amalgamation of the fairytale motif, psychology, symbolic imagery and coherent surrealism in that film. I took that influence and merged it more towards a mainstream commercialism for ‘Red Kingdom Rising’. Above all, 'Red Kingdom Rising' arose from my personal need to narrate the story of an adult survivor of child abuse. I wanted to submerge the audience directly into the horrifying memories and fears that a survivor can always live with and to do that, I submerged them into her world of dreams - her subconscious. Lewis Carroll's insight into the occult, dreams and higher conscious mathematics made for an incredible backdrop to place those dreams within.
J.L: What kind of budget were you working with on Red Kingdom Rising?
N.D: ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was shot on a very no to low budget, under £100K.
J.L: How did you raise the funds?
N.D: The funding was entirely from my own pocket, saved over a period of almost two years. I did that not out of arrogance or vanity but I very much wanted to ensure that I learnt and developed my understanding of the value of funding for filmmaking; it’s the only practical way to learn before engaging on and respecting bigger budgets with someone else’s money!
J.L: How did the shooting go for Red Kingdom Rising?
N.D: It was vastly impressive as everyone who worked on ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was doing it on a voluntary basis. A few did it purely for their showreels and credentials whilst others were very much engaged and supportive with the total evocation of the story. However to undertake a 25 days shoot across various locations on a voluntary basis is a commendable effort and the shoot went very smoothly.
J.L: How was it working on Red Kingdom Rising?
N.D: Personally, it was truly an evolutionary process yet it could be very isolating at times. You carry this visualised product throughout years of prep, production and post right up to aggressive marketing – it’s a lot to bear alone as writer, producer and director but it’s a disciplined passion. The isolation came from lack of support; the U.K film industry can be very clique and somewhat frowns upon anyone new that doesn’t have a form of previous validation within known circles, so it is difficult to have a voice. But creating ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was about creating that voice which has resulted in the film’s U.S distribution through Striped Entertainment. It’s been a long journey and, as with any film production, there were some that had utter faith in the film and others that didn’t. The real meaningful support however has now come from the reviewers and growing fans who continue to support the film.
J.L: How different is the final version from earlier drafts?
N.D: Because the main influence for ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was more of an arthouse/surreal film, the original drafts of the film were much more introspective and symbolic rather than bearing a traditional linear narrative and definitive genre. The subsequent drafts were worked on to gear towards more commercialism whilst still retaining original integrity. Overall, I was very happy to find that the final version actually bore a great deal of the visual capacities I originally intended. That was indeed surprising, particular due to the budget.
J.L: What lessons did you learn while making the film?
N.D: There were lessons I was already familiar with but with ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ I felt more of a development of them; the value of film funding, the importance of extensive pre-production, developing my Method approach with the cast, the tactfulness, diplomacy, wit and business sense of being a producer and understanding the commercial viability of a film. The joy of being a filmmaker is that these lessons are never ending.
J.L: Were there any scenes that didn’t make it to the final film?
N.D: Oddly enough there weren’t any! Shots were amalgamated due to time but no scenes were dropped or compromised. That was entirely due to the organisation I undertook during prep which was diligently upheld by my crew during production.
J.L: What advice can you give someone looking to get into the industry?
N.D: Cast your mind back to when you were a kid; you wanted a bar of chocolate, you’d stare at it in the shop window for weeks, you’d beg your parents for money, they’d say no, you’d bribe your friends, they’d say f**k off, you’d convince someone to go halves on it, they’d go and buy it themselves. What do you do? Get your ass an after school job and save laboriously until you have the money, buy the chocolate, stuff your face, share it and enjoy it. That’s the same principle when it comes to starting out as a filmmaker. Many, many filmmakers I bump into are not willing to make that sacrifice and it is indeed a sacrifice. There will be comfortable aspects of your personal life that you will have to painfully get rid off at times until you make your first film. Sitting there, making a few shorts and hoping that someone else will give you the full funding for your first feature is not likely to happen since everyone is expecting that! It is particularly bad in the U.K where the funding is virtually nonexistent yet the idea of external funding has always been bred to British filmmakers. Only ever make a film if you have story to tell, a story that hits your core as a human being and that you objectively think has significance on a broader spectrum. Filmmaking is above all a business and don’t get into it if you don’t enjoy the business development, don't understand the international market and merely want to be a thriving artist. There is nonetheless a place for art in this business yet it has to be cleverly woven within that broader spectrum.
J.L: So where do you see yourself heading?
N.D: I’ll continue creating opportunities but now with the success of ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ there is ease towards broadening the scope of the films I wish to make and collaborating on bigger budgets. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive but it does mean creating and expanding upon narratives on a cinematic level whilst remaining cleverly economical as you would on a no budget.
J.L: Are there any more films in your future?
N.D: I’m currently in preproduction on my next film, a fantasy thriller feature film based on a renowned fairytale/legend. It’s exciting; ‘Red Kingdom Rising’ was very psychologically thematic in nature whilst the next film is more spiritual, in the sense of fighting for the soul due to the film’s time period. So there will be plenty of witchcraft and elaborate fights along with the questioning of purpose and faith, the idea of being a prophet, all along with a significant twist.
I´d like to thank Navin Dev for taking the time to answering my questions.