We work with a big network of professional filmmakers from all over the world. As different as the requirements of our clients may sometimes be, so different and versatile are the regions and people we work with. In a new series of articles, we like to introduce some of them to you.
This article is about Moumita Das. She is a Creative Producer in India and has been working regularly for mmpro since 2013. During this time, she was responsible for numerous local projects and worked for international customers such as Magna India Engineering, Siemens, Bayer, Accenture and also for NGOs such as the SOS Children’s Villages. In a conversation she told us more about the background of her work.
When did you decide to become a Creative Producer?
I have been a creative person since my childhood and never really lived it out. During my studies I always thought I would become a journalist. During my studies I got my first reflex camera and took random photos, which my professors liked very much. I won the first prize in a photo competition at my university. Then I seriously considered the film industry for my professional career for the first time. After five to six years as an assistant producer and camerawoman, I finally became a creative producer.
What is the scope of your work? What formats do you work with and for what kind of clients?
I have worked on many different audiovisual projects all over India and some other countries. I’ve worked on the camera, sliders or glidecam systems, was a line producer and much more. I only work with HD formats or higher quality formats. I work for many different clients: international companies, the hospitality industry, B2C companies, or for the IT and tourism sector. I have worked with almost all major film productions in India.
What are the peculiarities that you have to consider when shooting in India?
India is a very diverse country, with a mixture of many cultures, religions and people. The people in India are very friendly and warm-hearted. So, when you shoot in India, you should respect everyone and treat them like a family member. That makes the shooting very easy. It is also good to keep in mind that in some rural areas, especially in small villages, women are not allowed to interact much with the opposite sex. So, if it’s an exclusively male film team, you should take that into account – and address more male contacts.
Where are the centres of the Indian film industry?
All metropolises in India are centers of the film industry. The market is linguistically segmented; 22 languages are spoken in India. But the main markets are Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta and Tamil Naidu. As India has a very diverse topography, you can get all kinds of good locations here: Beaches, deserts, mountains, lakes or whatever.
Where in India is it difficult to shoot?
As I said, India is a very hospitable country, so there is basically no area where you can’t shoot categorically. Of course, you need permits like everywhere else. Filming in India during big festivities or popular anniversaries is a bit difficult. Then it is not so easy to get a permit. In some areas there are political tensions, but even there it is relatively easy to get permits if you contact the authorities in advance.
Are there any differences in the visual worlds and film language in India compared to the western way of making films?
I think India has evolved to a degree where every difference in film language to the Western world is leveled. But there are certainly some differences in the imagery that are prevalent in India. This is mainly due to the different appearances of the people in our country. The people in the north, west, east and south have very special clothing styles, which are typical for each region.
In corporate films, at any rate, there are hardly any differences due to their adaptation to Western industries and companies.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
A few years ago, I was shooting in Mewat, Haryana for an NGO in a small village during Ramadan. This village is mostly Muslim, and people are not allowed to look in the mirror during Lent. We recorded a shot of a woman scooping water from a hand pump. After a few minutes a man joined us and shouted at me how I could show the woman the camera lens. He was outraged, because she could see herself in the reflection of it. I was shocked. Many people surrounded me, and my crew saved my life that day. That was probably the most shocking moment in my career as a filmmaker.
During the same shooting we wanted to shoot a Thai lantern at dusk. For a test shot we lit one of the lanterns and the whole village gathered in front of our guesthouse and claimed we were doing some kind of black magic against the village. It was the first time I had dealt with a village community so completely cut off from the progress of the rest of our country. That night I thought, what a crazy situation have you gotten into? You get to experience so much in your life, and you’d rather not experience so much again. (laughs)
But the biggest challenge in India is to be a female filmmaker. Although there are some advantages, India still has a long way to go before women are accepted as the norm in the media industry.
What was your most fulfilling project so far?
That is the best question so far. (laughs)
My shooting 2015 for mmpro in Bhubaneshwar in the SOS Children’s Village, Maya’s story. I loved every moment to shoot this film, although it was just one shooting day. My crew and I visited the SOS Children’s Village for the first time, and it was very impressive to see how enthusiastic the children were. The caregiver of the children welcomed us very warmly, prepared us a sumptuous meal and told us about her beautiful experiences with the children. It was very touching. Then we went to the village to film the children. To see Maya taking care of the poor children was something very special for me and changed my view of life a bit. I thank mmpro and Maya for getting me into this project. The impressions are still very present and feel good.
Lars Hoeppner, mmpro editorial office