Archive for the 'film' Category

shawarma app promo video

Back in September I published a blog post on my first iphone app - Nearest Shawarma.

Recently, my friends and I decided to  film a short promo video to get more users interested in the app.

It was a lot of fun to make and is definitely fun to watch.

So without further ado, check it out my babies:

I might be posting this video on a site I’m working on – you guessed it – nearestshawarma.com. So check that site out in the coming days.

Thank ya,

Nishant

P.S.  Repeat after me:

Thou shall not go to bed without a shawarma in ze tummy!

Peace.

made a short film

On Friday, April 5th, 2013 at 7: 00  pm sharp, myself and a few others stepped into the famed Calgary video shop Casablanca.

We received a sealed envelope from a Count Dracula dressed character. He wished us good luck and then kept staring at us as we walked out.

Inside the envelope we were given our mission details.

We had to make a short film in 48 hours for the Calgary Underground Film Festival.  We had to use a spider prop in the film, we had to use the line ” You’re doomed, You’re all doomed!”  And it had to be in the Found Footage genre in the vein of say Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield.

So given the monstrosity of this project we decided to have copious amounts of drinks that night. You know? To brain storm.

We didn’t actually start filming until Saturday of that weekend at around 1 pm.

More like 20 hour film festival!

Anyways, it was fun times despite the chilly weather. We had a talented musician  make custom beats for us, Dangerous Dave did the video work. Rest of us pitched ideas as we went. It was our first time entering into a film fest!

Anyways enough writing.. grab a drink and enjoy:

Gluten Free Films – “Viral Video” – CUFF 48 Hour Film Challenge from asnowproduction on Vimeo.

(exit through the gift shop) a review

would you ride your bike over that??

This is perhaps the most mind bending documentary I’ve seen in about 6 months. The other one being about the global financial crisis of ’08 -  Inside Job.

It’s about graffiti street art, specifically Banksy, a famous mischief from London who gives expression to the mundane things we pass by every day. Before I get into why this film is killer, I would just say this. If you’re interested in business and pop culture (who isn’t?) then WATCH IT. It will take you for an amusing ride, only to punch you in the face half way through.  If you don’t want any spoilers, stop reading now. Download this and come back here, to read my thoughts. It’s a swift one and half hours of time well spent.

- – -

Welcome back.

So as you know it starts off about this hilarious French film maker, Thierry, later known as Mr. Brainwash. He loves filming, eventually gets drawn to street art, which leads to him making art himself.  He learned how to make street from all these guys over the past ten years.. and then he does it? Whoose being fooled? Was he actually talented? I think he was.  Funny I  think that’s how we all learn in a way. Collaboration isn’t it called? One of the people he collaborates with is Shepard Fairey, who is famous for the Obey images and the iconic Obama poster.

I guess collaborating and stealing is a very fine line. A friend of mine for example felt Mr. Brainwash was created by Bansky. In her words: ” Like, it’s all a hoax. Bansky is so illusive, why would he all of a sudden agree to do a movie if not to mess with people? I think the movie was to draw attention to art and authenticity – how this crazy French guy reproduced images, threw some paint on them, and sold them for thousands of dollars. I think Bansky was trying to prove that anyone could do this as long as the audience was stupid enough to buy into it. Okay, so that last sentence may be reaching, but hopefully you get what I’m saying….. I agree with you on collaboration and taking ideas from our influences, but at what point does it become “stealing”?

As the late, great, Michael Jackson once stated – “It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation… period.”

Well damn. Why did you have to bring MJ into this? I ll get back to him in a bit.

So I decided to watch it for a second time and I dunno about it being a hoax. That is fascinating premise though…but I feel the story is well too scripted for this to be just a hoax.

Real or not, this is really making you question why artists like Damien Hirst get paid millions of dollars for their art. Banksy himself gets paid half a million for certain pieces and he questions you, what do people value? Well like beauty, “value” is in the eye of the beholder. Kinda of relates to a blog post I wrote actually (someone sold virtual asteroid for half a million dollars). Anyways, Banksy is cool cos he’s bit of a punk. I did some research on him and found that he did a hugely successful show, “Barely Legal” in 2006, and gave a flyer out stating this:

“1.7 billion people have no access to clean drinking water. 20 billion people live below the poverty line. Every day hundreds of people are made to feel physically sick by morons at art shows telling them how bad the world is but never actually doing something about it. Anybody want a free glass of wine?”

I think you might call it stealing because he paints this French guy as a bit of a putz, who just miraculously honed his craft in 6 months.. well maybe he wasn’t as sophisticated about it? I’d argue the French guy is very talented. He just wears his influences on his sleeve.

As for Michael’s comment, well he by no means can claim to be the most original person either, nor can The Beatles, or Elvis, etc. They’re very unique, however. For example,  the moon walk was underground dance move for YEARS, he popularized and branded it, made it his own in 83′ with Billie Jean. Even before that Michael solo moves and singing style was heavily influenced by  James Brown, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, etc. He became all these influences coming together, with a twist. Watch this, it’s absolutely fantastic:

See I’d argue Radiohead makes weird music okay to listen to, because people  now trust Radiohead for producing weird sounds. They made it cool to listen to serious music. And it’s great, cos if they’re good, we becomes curious to learn where these influences came from. People learn about who Andy Warhol is, and appreciate the pioneers of pop art in the case of this film.

I think your good or a pro when people start imitating you. But it’s a very fine line isn’t it?  Hopefully it eventually leads one creating something unique as well, because no one wants just a cover band.  We remember the music,  so you have to move beyond imitation.

One argument you could actually make is Thierry seems enamored seeing his graffiti everywhere, more than the actual art itself. More in love with the idea of photocopying his image everywhere and people knowing about him than actually making a statement. He openly admits in the film he was addicted to this.

And perhaps that’s what Thierry should be mostly credited for? How he made connections. Cos Thierry became a huge star himself! Like whatever you may say, he has drive, made observations, very likable character.  Shepard loved his passion for the filming, and called him an accomplice. He became enamored with street art and that led to him become an artist as well. In a way this movie is a tribute to apprenticeships. There is tremendous value in this act, as you work with people smarter than you. See how they work, learn from it and apply it to your situation. It motivated him to work at that level. That and having  major guts.  Right?  So many questions, hence this review. And  definitely one to watch on a first date perhaps – you will talk all night afterwards!

lessons from rush hour

I’ve just watched Rush Hour 2 for the 100th time, its a guilty pleasure. I feel there is some important lessons to take from it.  Watch this clip for a refresher!!

One: Acting like a goofball has many rewards! Carter starts singing Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough at this karaoke venue full of gangsters. He then decides to speak some Cantonese and later Lee  has to come in to apologize for his partners lack of foresight. But the girls in the crowd love him for it!

Two: Carter just wants to relax, have fun, get some “mu shu”. While at this massage parlour, Lee points out the man responsible for the Embassy bombing, Ricky Tan.  Carter decides to take matters into his own hands, despite Lee’s warnings.  Taking action even when you’re not ready .  Carter has this ability to not seem flustered by any peril that happens to come his way.

Three:  You can’t beat great chemistry. What other better combination could you choose? Jackie Chan is as vulnerable as ever. His fantastic martial art sequences combined with Chris Tuckers high energy results in something special.  It doesn’t have the most interesting story, but that doesn’t matter because these guys are so much fun to watch. Which leaves me asking,  where has Chris Tucker disappeared off to?

market your album like a film

I dig watching a good film trailer and a nice twist on the idea is when its used for music.

It  especially works for bands that make concept albums, which is an album centralized around a certain theme, the most famous perhaps being  Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.  McCartney thought at the time instead of the band going on a tour performing songs off the album, why not let the album go on a tour itself!

A film like trailer makes you feel like your about to enter this exciting musical journey. Julian Casablancas solo album, Phrazes for the Young,  has this incredible 80′s vintage feel with the synthesizers.

Fans love the anticipation, cos that is the best part! I wonder what direction they`re going this time? Show the behind the scenes footage, what others don’t usually get to see. This of course helps if your business is somewhat interesting to begin with.

divergent thinking

What’s this?

A trolley loaded with luggage? Nope.

This is a giant cake! With chocolate,  strawberry, and blueberry icing.

One of my favourite scenes from the Hindi movie Jaanu Tu ya Jaane Na is when Meghna asks these kind of questions to Imran Khan. They play this game called… “What’s this?”  It’s where you look at something ordinary and you try explain it in a exciting way. It’s a pretty decent game if you ask me.

Ken Robinson gave a talk recently at the Art of Marketing here in Calgary where he mentioned this concept  – divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the ability to come up with lots of possible answers or interpretations to a question.  He showed statistics indicating we lose this ability at a rapid rate as we get older and get more educated. An education system that emphasizes linear thinking, multiple choice testing – where you have to converge on one answer to get the correct answer. That’s fine, but what happens if a student doesn’t learn that way?  What about having some wit? Scoring 190 on an IQ test isn’t the only barometer for intelligence. What if your talents lay elsewhere? How do you nurture that?

It’s those who improvise, live in randomness, are ready for whats thrown at them. They can make connections that others can’t see. Paul McCartney had it right:

I use to think anyone doing anything weird was weird. Now I know that it is the people that call others weird that are weird.

my amazing dancing guy video!

This time last year I witnessed the most insane 2 min phenomenon of my life -  the dancing guy at the Sasquatch Music Festival. Below is the video I managed to capture:

Now this to me is the definition of a free spirit. I was watching this guy dance like a maniac for about hour BEFORE this even happened! But then one person decided to join him, and then seconds later came number 3 running down and it became cool. That 3rd guy in my opinion made it legit. Everyone went  mental after that!! It switched from being about him to being this awesome dance party.

I love the fact the song being performed was Unstoppable by Santigold.

Which brings me to another point: Santigold should give him a yearly dividend. Cos he created a movement that single handily made this song massive!! The dancing guy videos went viral and when that happens,  its word of mouth on steroids.

Don’t believe me?

Check out all the comments for the Unstoppable track on youtube.. they all mention the dance party!  It should be taken as a blessing from the skies for any tune to go viral nowadays of 1000 niche musical tastes.

Sasquatch should give this guy life time tickets to the event as a token of goodwill!  You simply can’t create this again! If it were to happen, it would always be compared to this.

are robots are taking over?

I recently found one of these babies at a friends place this past week.

Its called the iRobot Roombe and it cleans your floor, and afterwards goes back to its docking station. This may seem like “so what? ” to some people, but this blew my mind.  Are we that far off from technological wonderland that was the 80′s cartoon, the Jetsons? When can I have robot cleaning lady who takes away my dirty dishes and puts in the washer? Hopefully by the end of this decade.  Or is this convenience just another reason to be more lazy? I don’t think so.

We should embrace robots to do the things we don’t want to do, like cleaning our floors, so we can have more leisure time. This is the reason why we have cars, instead of riding horses, why they invented airplanes instead of ships to travel long distances. I patiently await the supersonic Maglev trains of the future. Imagine Tokyo to London in 3.5 hours.

Hollywood does an amazing job of portraying a Terminator 2 type future.  A doomsday scenario where we will all be enslaved by robots. There is some merit to that. Aren’t we already to our cellphones? I’ve seen it countless times at restaurants, two people at a table busy texting to someone (maybe to one another, who knows) for up to 10 mins, instead of chatting to one another. Remember the film Wall-E? We become fat asses and just press buttons, that this eventual artificial world will separate us from nature. That is true if its used that way. The end of the movie showed that technology properly used will help humans cultivate their true nature – that it must be subordinate to human progress, and help move that along.

capitalism film review

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men, They create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it.”
F. Bastiat, political economist, 1850

After watching Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore, I thought about what i had learned in economics while in university. I haven’t really gotten into economic theory since graduation to be honest, but something that was firmly drilled in my mind was – reduction of government regulation, reducing tax  -  will stimulate the economy through increased consumer spending. Over time, the increased economic growth will generate a larger tax base, which will recoup the revenue lost from the tax cut.

Anybody can see what a sham this theory is. Reducing taxes on the rich and businesses creates spending? That would assume they put the tax savings back into the businesses. That doesn’t happen. Today’s masters of the universe got filthy rich by using the Reagan tax breaks and investing in THEMSELVES – not the businesses or workers. Hence, no increased consumer spending, no increase in the tax base. EPIC FAIL.

I have to say I agree with the overall premise of the movie : Wall Street screwed us. They need to be regulated, instead we give them more money. Also there needs to be moral consciousness brought back into business. Business should not be just about maximizing profit. It has to take account of the workers, the environment, the long term consequences.  This insatiable greed as taken over US – which is why capitalism is defined as evil in this movie. Its become corporatism and it needs to stop before it spirals out of control again. I am surprised it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar. Moore does have a bad habit of painting good guys vs bad guys, instead of just sticking to the facts, but thats also what makes the movie very entertaining at times.

marketing bollywood


Aamir Khan in Rang De Basanti

Happy Twenty Ten amigos.

Over the holiday break I watched quite a few movies, and many of them were influenced from a recent trip to India. It got me got thinking about what’s currently happening in Bollywood aka –  the Hindi Film Industry – and how it could be marketed better to  get more appreciation around the world.

Hindi Films have a monopoly on  the Fashion/Music/Wedding industry

I wish Bollywood would go more global, but you have to first understand the Indian entertainment culture. There are certain limitations it puts on itself and that is simply due to the market it caters to.

Hindi films are a unique art form that exists in South Asia. Up to recent times, a lot of the films have these set pieces that are focused on NRI audiences (Indians living abroad). The story that is presented has this superficiality – the characters wear these designer clothes, and finally there are these formulaic “filmy” songs. India doesn’t have a strong mainstream music industry like we do in the West. Because of this, the venue to show songs is through the power of Hindi films. Thus majority of the songs being generated come from film. The songs in the film also become a venue to showcase all the latest fashion styles for the upcoming wedding season for Indians living abroad. You see the cycle here? Its one big entertainment/fashion package! It’s an art form is very close their hearts of Indians and to alter it completely would be betraying the audiences expectations.

Storytelling

In 100 years, there has yet to one breakthrough hit to come from Mumbai that both West and East can appreciate. Bollywood is very good at copying ideas off Hollywood, but Bollywood hasn’t had one copied from Hollywood. I mean one of the biggest and best Hollywood movies of the past decade, The Departed, is remake of a Chinese movie – Infernal Affairs. The biggest sci fi movie of the past summer was District 9 from South Africa! Slum Dog Millionaire is the only one that can be considered a cross over hit. But it took an English director to take an Indian story, with Indian actors in an Indian setting, to be presented in a way that appealed to people in LA and Mumbai. India is the home of Mahabharata and Rāmāyaṇa. It definitely is a country of story tellers! And stories have universal appeal.  That storytelling talent just needs to be refined and presented in a manner that will allow Indian films to become global hits.

Imran Khan and Genelia D'Souza in Janne Tu Ya Janna Na

Lack of Realism

Indians love making these classic “masala”movies –  boy meets girl, girl ignores him, some conflict or twist, eventually fall in love, big wedding, lots of songs in-between. Okay not exactly like this, but they do have a formula that just doesn’t translate as well as it used to. Its gotten predictable, just not interesting enough.

So sometimes now you will see the 1st half of the movie with songs, the 2nd half something else. I find the Indian film industry is going through a transition period. So the goal for new directors is to make it commerical but also take it to another level – the content, the humour – not play it up the way its usually done in Hindi Films. These kind of movies are now becoming big hits in the Indian box office. Watch movies like Rang De Basanti. Yes, it has songs, but there is realism, in that it ties along to pushing the story forward and in many cases adding to the overall flow and mood of the film. Janne Tu Y Janna Na, Paa and 3 Idiots (hilarious, amazing film) also come to mind, in merging song-story cleverly. Audiences are getting smarter, perhaps the directors have awakened to this fact now.

In some cases no songs are used, such as in the terrorist film, A Wednesday and also none in the office politics of Rocket Singh. In the instance of Wake Up Sid, the music is there, but  its cleverly used in the background in the montage of shots. No lip synching!  More focus on reality based stories and less on the music and sometimes no music.  A refreshing change. Monsoon Wedding by Mira Nair was sucessful in capturing the euphoria and fun of Indian culture, and it did without switching from one village scene to some wide angle shot of a couple dancing on the mountains of Switzerland. Sell us the fantasy, but make it somewhat imaginable!

Ranbir Kapoor in Wake Up Sid. With Chicken in his mouth

Poor Dubbing/Subtitles

They spend all this money making the film, but  then only pay 5,000 rupees for the English subtitles. Honestly, go rent a hindi movie from your local Blockbuster  and you will laugh at the absurdness of the translation. It just sounds so childish, and that is not because of the dialouge, but mostly because not enough attention is paid to this. If the Bollywood big whigs want more foreign revenues , apart from what they already receive from the Indian diaspora, then it needs spend some of its budget on this! You may argue that  they speak some English in Hindi movies, so this is a non-factor. Wrong. You can’t just do a direct translation or subtitle the jist of the scene.  The context in which the dialogue is spoken in a particular scene – that needs to be worked on. It has to capture the feel of  that moment in the movies progression. Western audiences love the dancing, but for them to take it more seriously it needs subtitles that capture the small nuances. Yes some cultural jokes still won’t come across as funny to non-native Indians. But still more effort needs to be made on this front as well.

Think Bigger

 

What am I getting at with this? There is this myth that Bollywood is already global. That just because you pick up an Raj Kapoor dvd in Hong Kong or see a Hindi Film billboard in Mexico. However these are only small pockets of influence and that popularity is declining.  The only reason you can say Bollywood is global is because there are global Indians watching. It remains a product mostly made for Indians.

There is a new big budget Hindi film coming out soon with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, called My Name is Khan. And guess how much the budget was ? 15 million USD. Now that is the same amount many A-list actors get in Hollywood. Some Chinese films are made for 50 million USD. Only way to generate such budgets is to capture more from the global pie. Number one way to do this? Invest in the storytelling. Bring some realism to the plots. It has world class directors, excellent actors and great production values. It just needs to focus more on story telling. Slumdog Millionaire did it and reaped the benefits big time.

See Also : Benefits of Being An Oveseas Citizen of India



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