Direction Dreams:  Women behind the camera are not an anamoly anymore

...says Reema Ravichander, who worked as an assistant director in films like Solli Vidava and Anantham
Direction Dreams:  Women behind the camera are not an anamoly anymore

In conversation with Reema Ravichander

Films worked on: Solli Vidava, Anantham

Directors worked with: V Priya, Arjun

Main responsibilities: Action Continuity, staging, planning and scheduling shoots, post production.

When did you realise cinema was your calling?

The credit goes to my parents. Since childhood, we spent every weekend watching a film. And on Monday, even before the first period, I'd sit the class down and narrate the film to them.
It was almost like everyone watched the film, and I think that's where it started. I later acted in dramas, and as time progressed, wrote and made my friends act in them too. In fact, it was almost like a given that I'd be pursuing a career in cinema.

What have you learned from your directors?

Having been used to smaller sets during my short film and film studies days, the sheer size of a feature film creew was overwhelming. With Arjun sir, my first learning was how to manage so many people, get the work done, while being nice. 

Working with Priya ma'am was a wholesome experience. Even if you are the newest person in the team, she will ask your opinion. She will give us the space to be vocal. She will be honest in her craft, and only do films that she believes in, and understands. She will never touch upon anything that she has no prior experience in, or doesn't know. That is one thing that I will always treasure. 

What’s the oddest or most memorable thing you have seen or done as an AD?

Anantham was based on the Navarasas, and this was something only the writing knew it clearly. Actors did have an idea about it too, but no one else did. One day, we were shooting an important scene with actor Amrutha Srinivasan, and it revolved around Karunai (Sympathy). After the scene was shot, our chief light technician was disturbed, and said, "I feel bad for her." Those words were validation for the bunch of us. I was very happy.

Also, we were a small crew, and at times, Priya ma'am asked me to direct a few shots. I was very nervous, but I got to direct Prakash Raj sir and Aravind Sundar. I think it did come out well. 

What’s one area of filmmaking you had a tough time with, but are better at now?

I think I've got better with planning and scheduling. I was really clueless in the beginning. Actually, on any set, the first hour is damage control. Earlier, I used to panic when things didn't go as planned. After seeing Priya Ma'am being casual about it, I gained confidence in giving other options to ensure the shooting happens. I don't fret as much now, and I'm pretty confident with my decision making.

What's a change you wish to see in Tamil cinema?

Of course, it will be the increased collaboration of writers and film skers. Considering how a director is in close connect with the producer, many a time, budget issues and logistical constraints hinder the free flow of writing. So, a separate writer would do wonders. Also,.I hope there is an increase in the number of women behind the camera, and it is high enough for people to stop seeing it as an anomaly. It should become a normal phenomenon. No more answering questions like "How is it to be a woman filmmaker?" Let's just normalise it.

Who would be the dream cast and/or crew for your debut project?
I would love to work with a lot of friends. We dream of cinema together, and I'd love for all of them to come together in my debut. Roping in Bagath for Cinematograpahy and Surya Rajeevan for Production design will happen, for sure. Also, Ashok Selvan is a good friend, and an excellent actor with a lot more potential, and I wish to explore it further. I'd want to work with my dear friends Amrutha Srinivasan, Aravind Sundar, Vinoth Kishan, and Abhishek Joseph George among others.

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