Navin Ramaswaran [nramaswaran]
What is your specialty? Production, direction, something else?
My specialty is Directing and Editing. Those are the two aspects of filmmaking which I enjoy the most. The calculated chaos of directing and the ability to shape and reshape a project in the editing suite are the things that drive me.
Is there a link to a site where we can see references to your work?
How did you begin in this field? Who introduced you to it?
I started while I was in university (University of Windsor). I volunteered on film sets and other productions and tried to make my own little films by gathering a few unsuspecting friends and any available equipment.
Which have been the most symbolic works of your career?
My second feature film "NARA" (www.narathemovie.com) and my newest project, "The 3 Sides of Love" (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=607650125&ref=name#/pages/The-Three-Sides-of-Love/49759701405?sid=fe2e0291348392065c7417e30028e158&ref=search)
Do you work for a client, for the audience, or for your own creative adventure?
I suppose that depends on the project. But I started for my own creative adventure and while this is still true, now, a large portion of how my films are shaped is influenced by the target audience.
What should a good script have in order to interest you?
A solid and unique script always interests me. Unique either in terms of plot and concept or the presentation of the material. I'm always attracted to a film that is different; and that is becoming more difficult as time passes and more films are churned out everyday.
Name three contemporary directors or producers that you admire.
1. David Cronenberg
2. Tim Burton
3. Sam Raimi
If an actor delivers the lines but is not believable, how do you direct him/her?
I would probably explain the emotional frame of mind the character should be in, in that particular scene. When necessary (even though I do try to avoid 'telling' an actor what to do) I would try and act the scene out, with the actor.
Every actor has a method and the key as a director is to detect his/her method and comfort zone and utilize that to the benefit of the scene/film.
Are you the type who instantly knows when a take is good, or one who does another three takes to be safe?
It depends, sometimes a little nuance or method of delivery by an actor is so spot on, I can instantly know that is the take I would be using in the final edit. But at other times, I do play it safe and do a couple takes or covers to make sure I have what I need. Being an editor myself, I am always thinking of how each scene would cut.
What type of direction are you used to giving the director of photography?
I'm used to shooting my own material due to the low budget nature of my productions and the need to move quickly. But I am gradually moving away from that on my newer projects, which are larger in scale.
In terms of direction I try to explain the visual requirements of a shot verbally and with physical examples, and when necessary, I draw storyboards (or stick drawings that somewhat resemble storyboards!).
How interested are you in image technologies such as robotized cameras, special effects, etc.?
I am very interested with image technologies, especially when it comes to moving cameras and advancements in camera technologies. I haven't been exposed much to special effects as my productions have not required many effect shots to date. I tend to stay to the more organic form of film making. But this is mostly due to the budget and subject matter of most of my work to date.
Do you enjoy post-production, or do you prefer to leave that in the hands of other professionals?
I absolutely love post-production. The creativity and amount of shaping up that can occur in post never fails to amaze me. In the hands of a good editor, a train wreck of a movie can be salvaged, and an already good movie can flourish into a beautiful piece of art.
It is always interesting to witness the evolution of a film from conception (script) to production and then to its final cut.
Do you approach an editing session with a clear idea of what you want to do or with an attitude of experimentation?
Even though I have an idea, in my mind of what the final film would look like, I always approach a film with an open mind in post production. When a script is translated onto film, changes occur due to many reasons; budget constraints, location issues, spur of the moment creative bursts, etc. But it all comes together in the editing room. Only with an open mind and an attitude of experimentation can one put together something special and interesting.
What magazines or websites of the sector do you follow regularly?
What is the best movie than you have seen in the last year, and why did it seem especially good?
Slumdog Millionaire - And I watched this film before all the hype. I coudn't be happier that a little indie film like this received the attention it deserves. I especially love this film for it's simplicity and outstanding presentation; from Danny Boyle's direction to the performances by all the actors across the board, to the beautiful music by A.R.Rahman. Everything just came together in this film and it was a breath of fresh air amongst all the other films that came out in 2008 (and there were many good films last year).
Do you eat popcorn at the movies?
I used to always eat popcorn at movies. Then I became a poor student and refrained from purchasing any food items from the cinema. Now I'm used to not having popcorn at the movies.
What works best for you when selecting an actor: an audition, seeing some of his/her previous work or having a long conversation with him/her?
I love auditions, as I get to meet and discover new talent but its the one on one conversations that usually seals the deal for me. This is how you can really get to know a person and how he/she feels about the project and the amount of drive and passion one has for a given project. And of course, an actor's previous work is a good indication of how a person comes off on camera. So I suppose I use several methods in casting an actor. I do feel casting is 50% of directing.
Do you like to have a second unit or do you prefer to control every still of a production?
The first opportunity I had with a 2nd unit was on my last film, "The 3 Sides of Love". And this was due to necessity; I was out of the country once principle photography was completed and had to rely on the rest of my team to shoot 2nd unit and send me the footage as I was editing. I must admit that it was a great sense of relief to have a team I can count on to shoot additional material without having to look over their shoulders. So I suppose I do like having a 2nd unit.
Do you change the dialogue after selecting the actors in order to adapt the characters to them?
Yes, I like to give the actors the freedom to make the character their own and bring their personal take on it. This is also why I love having table reads before moving into production. We have conversations about the characters and alter dialog as we see fit at these table reads.
Which do you like more, large budget or small independent productions?
I'll probably be able to answer this question better when I get the opportunity to direct a large budget production :)
Do you like to experiment with new technology immediately or do you prefer to wait for it to develop?
I probably prefer to wait for it to develop a little as I like to read a lot about a certain technology before using it.
Is the future of cinema the Internet? Mobile phones?
Hard to say. I believe that true film lovers will never stop going to the cinema; this is the authentic movie watching experience. A good home theater setup is a good alternative but still not a replacement. Internet and downloads aren't really my thing but I do notice and understand the trend of downloadable content and streaming. As for mobile phones; I only watch videos on my iPhone when I'm on the plane or showing something on site to a client/crew. Only time will tell.
Does the concept of interactive video stir up creative thoughts for you, or does it leave you cold?
Interactive video is something I am interested in researching further as it does open up tremendous possibilities. Given the fact that 3D movies are making a comeback, interactive videos could very well be the next big thing.
What recommendations do you have for someone who wants to break into in the industry?
There's no if and or buts about it; this is a difficult industry to penetrate. Unless you know someone connected in the industry, you will have to work your butt off to even make a dent. But persistence and drive is key to succeeding; and success is subjective. To me, being a successful filmmaker is being able to make films and sustain yourself doing it. Not many people can actually make a living out of being a filmmaker. And if you can, you've made it. To those wanting to make a film; just go out and do it. Beg, borrow and steal... do whatever it takes to get your first movie made. And be creative and professional. In this digital age, anyone can claim to be a filmmaker; but only the ones with quality work stand out and get noticed.