A guy in his late 30's who doesn't want to conform or settle down, leaves his fiancé and goes to Vietnam to 'live life and explore more.' Unfortunately for him, he finds himself in a world/place with its own problems, habits and discrimination. Following a weird incident with a prostitute (and a graphic alien sex scene) our guy finds himself with many questions of his own to answer.
Currently doing some photography and casting in Ho Chi Minh City, I haven't a clue where Simret got the time to talk to me about her journey as a filmmaker but I'm very happy she did. Patiently going beyond to give readers of this interview an audiovisual experience, this budding cinematic master has additionally provided a way to listen to her musings as well as read her alternative take on the same response to my inquiries. She's without question, one of the most thoughtful, ambitious, and exciting new genre filmmakers to keep an eye on.
Many people are turned off by the idea of filmmaking because of issues with budget or think they need a big one (100K+) to make something worth watching. How would you describe the best ways to be successful at securing resources in order to make a great film regardless?
But I would say that having a 100K budget isn’t necessary because ultimately it comes down to the idea and having a good story. Sometimes a good story doesn’t cost much at all. Look at some of the simple advertisements on television, they’re 30 seconds long and some are so simple in their premise, but yet get the point across in such a short space of time.
The other way is crowd funding, private financiers and looking towards sponsors. This is something I will do for my next project.
Not many bloggers get the time to create detailed descriptions of their journey on a film set from start to finish. Why was it important for you to put so much time and detail into giving your readers exclusive insight into your process?
But working in the film/TV film industry provided me with more knowledge, and that everyone has a role. For example the sound man might have studied to become a sound man, the editor loves to edit and is darn good at it, the cinematographer was born to do what he does, so everyone has a specific talent that they’re good at and love to do. I therefore took this knowledge and decided that using friends, people I’ve worked with and even sourcing others who believed in the project, with the intent that the quality of the project was going to be different and even better than the stuff I used to do all by myself.
With all the challenges on the set of Newborn, do you feel it ultimately (forgive the cliched phrase) make you stronger or help with confidence moving on to your next film?
I remember that my gran used to wear wigs, it was a normal thing for her to be looking in the wig catalogue and choosing her next wig. In fact I dressed up in her wigs and still do today for some strange reason! Also with Indian culture and with my mum being a Sikh, hair is deemed sacred. It’s not meant to be cut or paraded as part of vanity. I had very long hair as a child, and even when saving my hair in balls when combing it out, I was fascinated that this stuff could grow and that it could also be lost.
We were also in an age where having hairy armpits or pubes were the norm. My mum was hairy, the gran never shaved so I was always party to such displays. Nowadays it seems like it’s unfeminine if we let our pubes rip from our sides, or displays a bit of fur during beach time. It was never like this to me. My mums best friend is also a very hairy man, I used to play with his arm like it was a furry animal and comb it with my dollies brush. I even shaved all the hair off my Cindy doll and stuck it on her boobs.
Black women and hair…it’s an issue, a self conscious issue that needs to change. We place too much value on what hair we think we should have or how it should be according to fashion. I like individuality. But I also know and understand that sometimes maintaining black hair is expensive and can be hard work. Maybe some women just want to keep it simple especially in certain jobs where you may have to maintain a certain image regardless of colour, race and ethnicity.
Why is filming your latest project, From Me To You in Vietnam so critical to your story?
It’s also very expensive to shoot in the city of London and with my cinematographer Louis based in Ho Chi Minh City, it just seemed second nature along with being a lot cheaper to shoot in Vietnam. And coincidentally the alien girl is actually oriental in the script, so it’s worked out well in that sense.
But once that’s fulfilled, they can disappear, not necessarily in a malicious way, but its just not within their own cultural background or class to settle down with someone other than their own kind. This is human nature, different cultures and family backgrounds determine who we should/shouldn’t be with and as wrong as that sounds in this day and age, this mentality still exists. It’s also natural for others to be curious about other races, and want to settle with someone other than their own culture. It’s also the day and age we live in and a wonderful thing too. I love the fact that my mother is Indian and my father British born Jamaican, they had massive problems of course within their own families especially with it being in the 80s and in the United Kingdom where racism was rife in general, but I’m so happy that they had my siblings and I.
Writing wise it’s also been a challenge because I’ve written many different characters in the script, even if they’re supporting roles. Coordinating quite a few people in one scene will be interesting. I work as an AD sometimes, so I know what’s involved when coordinating loads of people in one scene, but doing it on my own shoot and finding someone suitable enough to assist the smooth running of certain scenes on my shoot will be an experience.