India and Pre-Production

So I’m in India for the second time in one summer. My 10-year-old self wouldn’t believe me if I told me – back then we went once every three years at best.

But here I am in Bangalore for about the last five days, in the thick of pre-production for our Story of a Girl film. As mentioned in the previous post, producer Alan Smith has been here with our Indian producer Digvijay Purohit and 8th Wonder Productions doing the legwork before I arrived.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve been location scouting, meeting crew people, and auditioning actors for the most part. Our story follows a girl, born HIV-positive, who is orphaned at young age and survives through access to medication and through her friendships. Much of the film takes places in a slum or informal settlement, and an early part of the story takes place in an orphanage. We quickly found both of those locations, but are still trying to nail down a few more – a railyard, a riverside clearing to name a couple.

Yesterday, I was at a casting session to see finalists for the lead roles and some supporting ones. The challenge has been to find our lead girl – a 10-year-old, and her friend who is also 10. It’s hard to cast pre-teens in general, but to also have them play a difficult role like this is even more of a challenge. Our casting, done by Kalpana at Yolk Studios, has been very fruitful – we found some good actors and I’m excited to work with several of them.

It has been encouraging to see the talent in Bangalore. The film industry in India is, of course, massive. And when people outside of India think about the film industry, they think about the Bollywood films that come out of Mumbai. India, however, is divided up, state by state, into language groups. And each of those states/languages, requires its own film and television industry. It would be like if Illinois and Alabama had their own movie industry – and if those states spoke separate languages. (In some cases they do I guess.)

So Bangalore, although smaller and servicing the Kannada film and TV needs, does have a good amount of talent and emerging talent that I’ve been able to see – which is really encouraging. Today we’re off to find a few more locations and hopefully lock them soon. Producer/creator of this madness Jonathan Smith is joining us in a couple days after what sounded like a gruelling shoot in France with French models. He will likely get very little sympathy from us while he recovers from jetlag.

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