Chennai-born and bred filmmaker Lokesh Kumar came to the limelight this year with his debut feature My Son is Gay. The first gay film in “100 years of Tamil cinema,” My Son is Gay reflects on the taboos and misconceptions in the society towards the LGBT community. The film is being warmly received at festivals worldwide. Lokesh, who’s made several short films before this full-length feature, has some valuable tips to share with fellow filmmakers, trying to make their first film. Listen in, close!
1. Learn the craft
If you’ve decided to be a filmmaker, learn the craft — it can be from a YouTube Tutorial; a film school; working as an assistant director on a film set; watching films; attending film festivals or experimenting by doing your own short films. Choose whatever way you can afford to learn but make sure you learn something out of it. One has to, atleast, learn the basics to make a film. The more you learn, the more your knowledge, the easier your work as a filmmaker. So, always observe and learn from everyone around; be it good or bad. Keep learning and make yourself a unique talent.
2. Don’t lose faith
Never lose faith in cinema. It may take you on a big ride, you may face rejections, failures, disappointments. But, never give up or lose hope. Always believe you are going to be a successful filmmaker. Positive mindset is very important for a filmmaker to face all difficult situations. As you work hard towards your journey, be very hopeful, positive and most importantly, believe in yourself. For those who believe, things will fall in place quickly.
3. Don’t let lack of resources deter you
You can do always great things in low budget as well. Never think money is your problem and get stuck in one place. Use your creativity, observe the outside world, collaborate with like-minded people, be passionate, be curious and have a lot of patience.
Network with people, use social media as a tool, do whatever it takes to make a film but never blame the situation and sit at one place. There is always a way to kickstart a project at any given situation. Motivate yourself and be with right crowd who believes in you.
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4. Don’t be afraid of hearing a ‘NO’
Try all possibilities and you’ll eventually find a way. When you set out to make a film, there will be discouraging voices all around. When working on my first film My Son is Gay, things got tough because of the theme. Be it casting or funding, everything is tough when it comes to this theme, especially in the south where LGBT issues are still very much a taboo. Many actors/technicians/producers were worried about their image, this being a gay film.
But I was fortunate to have found great producers like Anil Saxena (co-producer) and Cyril D’souza (associate producer) who understood the importance and necessity of this film. I completed this film mainly because of their support and motivation. My actors understood my vision and supported me by playing their part well.
Many actors worked for me without ever worrying about their salary.
5. Break the rules
Make one feature film and you will understand everything about filmmaking. What you learn as an indie filmmaker is something no film school or a commercial film set can teach you. This is a very unique experience which will transform you completely. Don’t worry too much about any rules in filmmaking. Break the rules or modify them according to you and make what you want to showcase to your audience.
By Lokesh Kumar