Interview with film maker Pravin Vatt

Interview with film maker Pravin Vatt

I became interested in filmmaking fairly early in my life. I grew up in a small town in Visakhapatnam, India.Small town,big dreams,I guess. I watched movies like "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Jaws", and "Star Wars". As a child I would make up characters and act out scenes with friends and family. Every weekend I would go see a movie with friends at our local theater. I really watched lots of movies while I was growing

I did lot of stage plays/theatre etc. in high school. I couldn't afford a VHS camera of my own when I was young so I borrowed a VHS camera from a friend in high school and started making videos over the weekends. That's where the real “filmmaking” bug hit. Right out of high school, I continued to make short films in college. I also started doing events and shooting videos for my dance group krossWire .I also did school and community projects. I have been involved in more than 30 short films.

Where, when, and what did you study in school?

I attended the University of South Carolina in 2001. I formed my film company Vatt Pictures. I took classes at the university where the teacher really made me watch some real good movies. Also When I graduated college I immediately started doing freelance work and hooked up with some bands I knew that needed music videos. I started doing those along with spec commercials. I got myself involved in lots of projects.

Tell me a little about your life in India and coming to the United States.

I grew up in India and came in US around 2000-2001.

What inspired you to create the various movies you did? Are these stories based on your life or people you know?

I share an appreciation for the ways lives interweave and we touch each other even if we are strangers. A movie like this, with the appearance of new characters and situations every 10-15 mins or so focuses us we watch more intently, because it is important what happens. These characters aren't going to get bailed out with 110 minutes of plot. Their lives have reached a turning point in those 10-15 minutes. Different shades of human life comes into a category of films called anthology films or hyperlink cinema where one “top-level” story, a framing device, which leads into the various “sub-stories” another variation would be when different sub-narratives share a common incident (usually a turning point).

An anthology film, or omnibus film or portmanteau film is a film consisting of several different short films, often tied together by only a single theme, premise, or brief interlocking event (often a turning point). “Anthology” is derived from the Greek (anthologia), flower-gathering which refers to the collection of poems and epigrams, in Greek culture the flower symbolize the finer sentiments that only poetry can express.

Some examples of this kind of movies are New York Stories, Paris je t'aime,Four Rooms, The Red Violin, Nashville ,Cuts, Steven Traffic , City of God, Syriana , Nine Lives,crash,Magnolia, Babel etc.

I like to make movies about real incidents and situations for instance, My movie Snapshot: travails of my father is inspired by my best friend's grandmother who suffered with Alzheimer's and recently passes away. Most of my movies are inspired by some real incident or true stories and these stories interest me and I feel it is important I tell them.

I was very much inspired by Amores Pores, City Of God, Red Violin, Crash etc. Also I love the Twilight Zone, so some of our short films are very Twilight Zone in style. I'm also very influenced by the early films of John Carpenter, such as Halloween, Christine, Escape from New York and The Thing and Alejandro Gonzalez. Also, I'm a big fan of Steven Spielberg. I love to revisit some of my short movies and make them into full length feature films.

Why have you decided to make short films? Do you have any interest in full length movies?

I really enjoy making short films, anthology films. It's probably the same reason why authors sometimes write a lot of short stories. Its fun to make a story that has a beginning, middle and end in 15 minutes. It's also challenging to develop characters in that short of period. We've made five short films just this year. Short films are a form with purpose, just as short stories are. The greatest short story writers, like William Trevor and Alice Munro, can awe us; their stories are short but not small.

As I said before, my hope is to revisit some of these short movies into full length features, but doing all these other types of projects over the last few years has really helped open me up creatively and pushed me to start thinking of a future where feature films aren't the primary source of entertainment for most people around the world.

Tell me about the awards you have won.

We have won awards at various film festivals and recently our short film won Kansas City film festival audience choice award and 2nd place winner and best actor award. My work as also appeared at other festivals such as Kansas city; film festival, one night stand film festival, 24 hour film festival, Tallgrass, Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles, Great Lakes Film Festival, etc.

What DVDs do your films appear on?

I've done some behind the scenes documentaries and special features for films such as “The Cavern” and “Journey to Lasta.” Those should be available on DVD. Different shades of human life will be available on DVD. The DVD release will be available on netflix and Amazon.

What has been the pivotal moment in your career?

I really think that completing this movie was pivotal. Just getting the film done was extremely rewarding. Also getting to screen some of our short films at the various film festivals in LA and Chicago has been a dream come true, since I used to read lot about some of the filmmakers at these film festivals in some magazines since I was in high school.

Probably the two biggest moments in my career so far are going to college, as I believe college education is very important and collaborating with other creative people and sharing ideas with others. The other is going to Sundance film festival. Being at that festival in particular has opened a lot of doors for me to network etc.

What projects are you working on now?

I'm collaborating on several feature length screenplays and short stories. We are also preparing compilation DVD titled 'life in the mirror' which we hope to get on Netflix and Amazon in 2009.