“Post-Production Workflow is Most Underestimated in Web-Series Making”

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Web series will soon be the order of the day. There has been multiple experimentation in the city with respect to this category by a few entities before, but still Web series looks not so mainstream.  Nevertheless, there has been laudable efforts by individuals and this has to be appreciated. One such experimentation which we all about to witness soon is the series “Illamaran” by an Upcoming Team.

The Teaser of Ilamaran looks intriguing and So is Director Nishanth’s perpectives on the film and the category of web-series. He personally thinks that web series will become a big bet in the near future. He Also Claims that The series will soon be backed by sponsors and that the Post production Workflow is something that many underestimate. Some valuable lessons from the excerpts of the interview.

Let’s talk about the plot of Illamaran. Looks like a typical hero-centric drama?  Inspirations behind Illamaran 

Illamaran is a fantasy / action / drama series that revolves around a 24 year old guy stuck in between multiple odds, who eventually discovers a way to escape them through a miracle. So yes, it is a hero centric story with a very solid character arc conveyed through a back-story.

The idea of the core premise stuck me just like that one day! Fantasy has always been out of my comfort zone until Illamaaran happened. The idea that stuck me was just too good in my opinion to ignore it. So I just began to write it

Donned the hat of Writer. Director. Producer. Editor. Must have been very challenging. But looks like the team pulled it off. Let’s talk about the challenges faced during pre-production and production

As the creator, I eventually became the writer, director and producer. But editing was something I was forced to do myself at the last moment due to various reasons. Expect the unexpected while filmmaking!

Well challenges are present in every parts of filmmaking. During the initial stages of writing, I had to create a fantasy world that would be the most relatable to the environment we live in. Especially for a fantasy in Tamil, I had to go an extra mile to commercially convince my targeted demographic. Well I would say we tried our best, given our circumstances. The rest is up to the audience to decide.

Production did have its own set of challenges. Firstly I want to thank all my actors who believed in our idea and supported us in many ways. Talking about the crew, it took an extra while for me to find fresh people with the right skill sets. Though our production value is much lesser than many high scale short films made these days, I tried my best to give my crew a memorable experience on set. Just like any other production, we too had tremendous budget constraints for our pilot episode. But yes, as you said, our crew worked really hard and intelligently to pull it off!

A big challenge in web-series is Monetization. You guys must have worked around some revenue model. Wish to share? Any sponsors? 

Only half way through the pre-production, I managed to rope in another young producer. It was only then we started to brainstorm marketing ideas for our series. As of now, our story is set for 3 seasons with at least 8 episodes each. We are currently working on a revenue model. We would eventually be hunting for sponsors in the coming months.

Camera and lenses used. Any other special equipments employed . Can you share with us the locations you have shot and work that went In production design. 

In terms of camera, we used a Lumix GH4 (with 4k internal recording – 10 bit) fitted with a metabones speedbooster, and with a sigma 18-35mm lens with 1.4 aperture. Sigma combined with the metabones speedbooster, the aperture range is further increased to 3 stops that makes my lens open up to 1.1 f-stop. This made it possible for us to film some scenes with just practical lights! Moreover this combination gives us an advantage over using cine primes. With the log profile, GH4 is indeed far better than the traditional 5D MIII, and is one of the best cameras for indie filmmaking ever, the only other one being the Sony A7S-II.

The whole pilot episode was shot in 3 days and 1 night. The locations were almost all around Chennai suburbs such as Kotturpuram, Adyar, Pallavaram, Thoraipakkam, Kolathur and Egmore. Not to forget the fact that it took me 45 days to scout for locations.

As said earlier, the budget constraint we had left us with little options to explore bigger production design ideas. Hence we decided to maximum go for live locations. For example, we wanted a bedroom as a location to sell the character traits of a young independent working woman. After many days of scouting for a similar character in real life, we ended up using the bedroom of a young female architect who had her walls painted in the exact way we wanted. It may have taken us a long time, but it saved us a lot of money.

Valuable Lessons Learnt and Tell us your Yourselves.

There is nothing much to tell you about ourselves. My crew and I are just aspiring filmmakers with big dreams. I prefer directing though I have been a DOP in most occasions. I love my language and looking forward to produce great content in it. I would say ‘Illamaaran’ would be a decent start.

We did learn a lot of lessons when it came to productivity on set. A smaller crew means more multitasking and juggling between roles. Apart from that, I feel it is really important that a director should set up a professional post-production workflow combining all the different departments. This would greatly reduce the chaos and time. Time is also money in filmmaking. When working on the Sound and VFX departments, its good to have a concept as a reference rather than an entire idea. As aspiring directors, help your technicians create and not copy.

Firstly I am not a person with adequate experience to advice others. But rather I can share what I have observed so far. As of today majority of the content viewers in our geography do not know what web series is. But within six months from today, the same majority will be not only be aware of it, but will also be consuming a high volume of it. Don’t ask me how I know. Trust me, its already evolving with big names in industry. Be innovative. For example, don’t again make a love story, make a story with love in it.

Plan of action from now…

As a new team, we are adapting to a rotational crew system. In other words, we will be switching to different directors, DOPs and crew for every 2 episodes as the series progresses. If anyone is determined and is willing to work under our circumstances, we are open to offer you a chance and collaborate. We will come back with a post on it!

Thank you again for recognizing and supporting our work!

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