Interview with Filmmaker Anuj Gulati (THE MANLIEST MAN)

THE MANLIEST MAN was the winner of BEST FILM at the March 2018 FEEDBACK Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Anuj Gulati: The film came about as a graduation requirement for my thesis towards an MFA at NYU Tisch School of Arts, Asia.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Around three years. The script was written in the midst of a number of activities that we were doing in school. Then came the process of finding the right location, which took a couple of months. India offers a lot of options. Then, in fact, I took a break from pursuing the film. A year later, I went back to the location and started putting a team together. We shot for 10 days, the edit again was done gradually over a period of eight months. Overall, it took longer than I wanted it to take, given that other life things needed to fall in place alongside.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Everyday Horror. This is thanks to a review written for the film by a critic. That is the title he used. I think it sums it up well.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Honestly, the biggest obstacle I faced with making this one was to just do it. I held myself back on a number of occasions, waiting for the right moment. But it never came, until I did it. I think one of the biggest challenges as a creator is to jump into the process, to create your own deadlines, and then to push yourself to get talented people onboard your vision.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was elated, sitting here across the world, viewing an entirely fresh audience talking about their impressions of the film. Thank you to the festival for the opportunity.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK of the Short Film:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The script took a while to feel right. I first started with the idea of exploring the still prevalent, but hush-hush, practice of female infanticide in remote parts of India. I came back with some shocking stories. The story of one of the families (that I wasn’t able to meet) stayed with me. They had tried to have a boy thirteen times, which means they managed to put to death, 12 female babies. Their thirteenth was also a girl, and they kept her.

Back at my desk, I tried to write about this family’s doings, and the irony of the result of their mission. But what I was dealing with was too much. I had to find a way to deal with this sensitive issue and avoid being heavy-handed. After a few drafts, I started following a male protagonist instead. The script then took shape of an absurdist tale set in a village where families are required to have boys, the blame of bearing a girl being taken by the man.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The Graduate.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It makes life much better, to have your film and it’s assets ready to submitted on a user-friendly platform. Keeping a track of festival submissions is a heavy job, help from the platform is much appereciated. My film was however, submittied by Aug & Ohr Medien, a Berlin based agency that managed my submissions. A lot of the screenings and recognition is thanks to their efforts.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Haha. Don’t stop ‘til you get enough, by Michael Jackson.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes, a first feature. We are looking to go into production this year, 2018.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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