Jan. 30, 2013 - Issue #902: Come cry with Daniel Romano
FAVA Profile: Shreela ChakrabarttySometimes it pays to listen to strangers.
OK, not always, but at least it did in the case of local filmmaker Shreela Chakrabartty. Initially, she had no interest in film, but during the final year of her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and expository English at the University of Alberta, when Chakrabartty was volunteering at the Alberta Book Fair, she met who she now refers to as her "oracle."
The stranger began asking Chakrabartty all kinds of questions, and after explaining her aspirations to become a writer, he advised her not to and encouraged her to pursue screenwriting instead.
"He said, 'Go into filmmaking; do whatever you have to do, but go into filmmaking,'" Chakrabartty recalls over coffee. "I went back to my university courses and started to take up film studies and acting and drama, and I haven't looked back. It's like every step of the way, whatever this stranger planted in my brain, no matter what I do, I can't steer away from it now."
It's a good thing she didn't. Chakrabartty, who has now been working in the film industry for 20 years, is ready to unveil her first suspense-thriller feature, Rock Paper Dice Enter this spring. However, it wasn't until 2009 that she put on what she calls her "filmmakers' hat"—having referred to herself as a media artist prior to that—after working on-set on five feature films, leaving behind her job as an audio engineer for the Government of Alberta to pursue the project.
Rock Paper Dice Enter began to take shape after Chakrabartty regained contact with fellow filmmaker Kash Gauni, who pitched her a short film based on his manuscript Once Upon a Llama, which led to the film's current screenplay, and the project began to snowball.
"I actually cast him in one of the roles without having met him, so this is a total leap of faith," Chakrabartty laughs, adding she met him in person the night before they began filming his part. "If he believes in my ability to make this happen, then I can believe he can bring his talent to the table and make it work, so I shot half of the film without having met him and then delivered him a teaser."
With a small but dedicated team of local talent working on a tight budget, Chakrabartty and Gauni—who has now become her filmmaking partner—brought the diamond-heist thriller to life and have their sights set on a Canadian run before expanding to international screens.
"This is a film that is being made on its own steam, so we took this approach that we're not just making a feature film, we're making a library of film," Chakrabartty says of Rock Paper Dice Enter, which she describes as one having an international flavour that isn't rooted to one specific place and has more of a Hollywood quality than what is generally expected from a Canadian film. "We're tying to apply this sustainability model where we make great stories, bring talent forward and create something that has a durable shelf life."
After taking numerous genres into consideration, Chakrabartty decided to create this sustainability through suspense, as she believed many of the others could be hit or miss. There's a 50/50 chance audiences will find a comedy funny, while dramas can also miss the mark if they are too quirky or too conventional. A suspense-thriller presented an opportunity to entertain, but in a way that would resonate with a wide audience. The story is one that peels back the layers bit by bit, revealing poignant, controversial subject matter.
"Something in particular about this film is that this was a story we wanted to come out yesterday, because all the news that's starting to come out now, and is going to be more so ... this story is so topical that when it does come out, it'll be right on the pulse of what's going on in society today," she adds. "So because we have this ability to see what's going on in the future and present it in an entertaining way—this is an intelligent thriller—we didn't spend a lot of time doing action and making things blow up. Instead we focused on the suspense part of it and we're actually building on a story that's to be continued."
Check out a preview of Rock Paper Dice Enter at youtube.com/watch?v=_jMHMeuwxbA
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy