By Dishari Brahma

Kolkata : The talented Aftab Asghar, a New York-based filmmaker, harped on simplicity in filmmaking on the sixth Day of #MediaNext 2020 that focused on Cinema in the Digital Age. 

#MediaNext 2020 is being organised by the Kolkata-based Adamas University in association with Sharda University, Birla Global University, DME, AIMEC, Lok Samvad Sansthan, exchange4media, ABP education and IndiaReal.in, The mega online conclave is being held over a period of 10 days from June 1, 2020 to June 10, 2020. Each day of the conclave focuses on one specialized domain of the Media and the Environment (M&E) industry and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on that specific domain.

Aftab started his own New York-based Film Production Company called Stride Films. Some of his recently produced films include ‘Unfreedom’ which is a contemporary thriller about a society torn apart by political, religious, and sexual turmoil set in New York and New Delhi. Some of his other productions are ‘Where Are You Sophia’, ‘Margaret’, ‘The Brief-Case’, ‘Batter Up’, ‘Love Lies and Seeta’, ‘Guns and Guitars’ and many more. Aside from films, he has worked in commercials and music videos for Walt Disney, Sony, Cossette Communications, Devito Verdi, and MTV.

Aftab was simply charming and he shared many valuable points about cinema in a very simple way. At first, he gave some tips that will help young filmmakers. He mainly spoke about how to be successful in scriptwriting and direction. He also discussed the ways to make a film in with a low budget. 

He pointed out that one should have the leadership qualities to be a filmmaker because a filmmaker is the captain of the ship. From the spot boy to the editor to cast members, everyone should listen to the director. Therefore, a director should have the capability to lead a team.

The second important point is communication. He described that one should be a very effective communicator to be a successful filmmaker. If one can’t communicate with his team properly, it will be hard to communicate with audience for him. This communication must be simple and minimalistic. 

Third point is to keep things simple. He advised people to not make it complicated. “Don’t make anything which is not easy to understand. If you’re a new and first time filmmaker then just keep things simple because simple is powerful. Complicated things are amateurish. Concept can be different but the way one is presenting it must be simple. If there are five dialogues in a scene then try to keep all this dialogue in a line. Think about the creative ways to say things”, he said. 

The next important point he discussed was that if one is a new filmmaker, then he/ she should learn to start and complete what he/ she has started and never leave anything incomplete. Keep it short and simple but complete it anyway. When one is thinking about any idea, he/ she needs to just sleep with the idea and then wake up in the next morning and again think about the idea. Always keep a note book whenever any idea comes to mind just and write it or make a short note on it.

He also discussed an interview of Tarantino where Tarantino said, “Everything starts with an idea, and the idea is not something which lands in your head in one go”. A whole film idea never comes in anybody’s mind in one day. It’s just like fishing. It comes one by one. Think about small things, then join it and make it a big idea. 

Next he told to pursue the story which is very close to one’s heart. Aftab said, “Choose something which is very close to you not only just by heart but in proximity also close to you. If anything is very close to you then pursue it because nobody can tell the story better than you. Always try to improve your skills.”

Aftab also stressed on the importance of improving skills – not just storytelling skills but technical and commercial skills as well. He urged everyone to learn something new every day. According to him, an aspiring filmmaker needs to be confluent with all different elements of the art form and has to plan well in advance. Also, he said that it is important to ask questions to people who know rather than scampering here and there.

Another important point that he said is that one filmmaker should pay attention to the art form – one should know the colour theory so that he/ she can give direction to his/ her art director. He told to make a list of ideas and try to pursue it. It was a beautiful and very informative discourse by Aftab Asghar. It was really helpful for new filmmakers and media students too.

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