Midlands Spotlight - Kieran Chauhan Interview
By midlandsmovies, Dec 31 2014 09:35AM
Midlands Movies Mike meets Leicester filmmaker Kieran Chauhan who is currently working on a documentary about cinemas in the city. We find out about that project, his trip to Cannes and his future plans of this up and coming talent.
Hi Kieran! Your new documentary sounds very exciting. How did you come to make this film?
Hello! Well, I started researching the history of cinemas in Leicester in collaboration with the CATH (Cinema and Television History) research centre at De Montfort University and planned for a short 15 minute documentary, but as I went along I uncovered more and more information and it became a larger film which is being premiered at Leicester’s Phoenix cinema in the new year. The film itself documents the different cinemas in Leicester, what they were like and peoples’ memories of them. For example, how many cinemas do you think there were in Leicester city around the 1900s?
Around five or six?
There were actually over 30 at one point! I have also interviewed people in their 80s and 90s who remember going to watch Harold Lloyd movies and others who recall later The Sound of Music as well. So I have combined all these memories and stories together mixed in with talks with Steve Chibnall (De Montfort University’s Professor of British Cinema) and Brian Johnson who wrote the book “100 Years of Leicester Cinema”, among others.
Have you made documentaries before?
I started making short films a few years ago and I started collaborating with Bipin Anand. We have conducted interviews for feature documentaries, corporate work and also made our own documentaries as well. Recently we have done a documentary on St. Peter’s Church in the Highfields area of the city under our new Touch Rainbow Production company. You can see that on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-R6m_rm-Dw
And what are the next developments on from here?
Well, we interviewed Danny Boyle and Andrew Lloyd Webber last year for a documentary on A. R. Rahman (Slumdog Millionaire composer) – as part of the film Jai Ho - but I also do freelance work as well. At the moment I’m leading production on a London branch of the horror app called 'The Crypt' which Eli Roth has launched in the USA, enabling people to create original horror content. They recently launched their “6 Second Scares” where winners of the best shorts will get their idea develop by a Hollywood production company and they had judges such as Tarantino and Elijah Wood, it's pretty awesome and I've done some great jobs with Sidney Malik who is doing a great job with the London Crypt.
You sound very busy! Anything else?
Well, I also work part time at The Phoenix which I started in my first year at university but my main focus is my recent short film Multi-Story which is a suspense-thriller where a woman gets killed in a hit and run accident and the main protagonist tries to find the perpetrator. We follow the protagonist in a car park and filmed over 4 days in various locations earlier this year. It was great that we raised over £2000 using Kickstarter which helped us cover equipment, camera and general rental and hire. I directed Adrian Buchet who has recently worked with George Clooney in The Monuments Men (http://www.adrianbouchet.com) and this film is in the edit with a planned release in 2015.
MIDLANDS MOVIES - See further details about the film here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1732829637/multi-story-short-film
How did you shoot it?
We shot this on Cooke lenses. This is a company that needs more recognition as they produce the best lenses in the world and provide them for Hollywood movies. And they are based in Syston. They won an honourary Oscar in 2013 and that is just sitting in the entrance of their offices. They are a lovely bunch of humble people and they produce world class equipment.http://www.cookeoptics.com/
Wow! Speaking of glitz and glamour, you also went to Cannes as well. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Yeah, it was amazing and we met like minded film people left, right and centre. I learnt so much about the film industry including how to sell and market film and the business. We went into the film pavilions where countries from around the world showcase their native talents, including talks (the British pavilion had a talk with Mike Leigh for example) which was interesting and unlike Doug (Cubin) and Rhys (Davies), I had no film to sell or take there but was just loving the atmosphere, much like everyone I went down with.
Where to pick! Whilst sitting in the American Pavilion one afternoon enjoying the sun and having a drink, a woman nearby asked another gent what he did, and he said he was a producer and she asked if he had done anything she may have heard of. He responded with the Bourne films and Indiana Jones! Almost everyone around you in Cannes is in the film industry is one way or another, it's heaven! We managed to get into a couple of premieres, parties and there were even screenings on the beach, including Leone's 'Fistful of Dollars'.
This must have been a great experience
It was brilliant to be around all these passionate people and we want to finish our short feature and send it on the festival circuit to see if it picks up any attention, and then start looking towards making a feature soon.
Have you worked on many features?
In 2013 I worked on Amit Gupta’s 'Jadoo' which was shot in Leicester on Melton Road which was my first feature experience. I was working on location and props and that was shot in the area which was great. The cast and crew were brilliant, working on all sorts of films that I grew up watching!
Speaking of which, what do you think about the Leicester film scene?
The interesting thing about Leicester is that the trend is to make your foundations here and leave to go either abroad or London, but that’s because of few opportunities here and it can't really be helped. I think though in the future it will be a different story.
It will be great to see someone from the scene breakthrough which could pull others with them?
People like Rhys Davies, Doug Cubin and Kenton Hall (Among others) are breaking through by attaining distribution and completing their latest features which I think will begin that change.
Changing angle, who are some of your film heroes?
I am a big fan of films that tell great stories whether it be the comedy of Laurel & Hardy or the movies of Billy Wilder. As I grew older, Kubrick, Tarantino and Scorsese were clear influences that come to mind. I enjoy those people who know how to craft a film properly and capture an audience. The good news for modern filmmakers is that you could probably shoot something like Citizen Kane for about 10 grand now as there are so many routes to access good equipment, good actors and free editing software. Great films come down to great scripts and bringing your own unique interpretation to a project; it is easy to become wrapped up on what you are shooting on (and it is great when you do have access to amazing equipment) but I feel that some modern filmmakers jump into the whole 'I want to shoot on a RED camera' dilemma. Make sure the story works on paper first and work your way up from there.
Finally, what are some of your own memories of film in Leicester and did you include them in the documentary?
I couldn't include my own thoughts in my documentary as I had to squeeze in over 100 years of local cinema history into around 30 minutes! But I will say the documentary ends with a look at the comparison between modern multiplexes and independent cinemas like the city’s Phoenix. Entering a multiplex nowadays is like a robotic chain which gets you in and out quickly as you buy your ticket and popcorn but my documentary covers a more nostalgic look that the history of cinemas in the city, and the unexpected surprises that came with them!
Did you go to the cinema a lot when you were younger?
One of my fondest memories is of the old Warner Brothers cinema and the old Phoenix. I remember clearly when they screened Gandhi and I met Sir Richard Attenborough which was amazing.
Find out more about Kieran and his work at his official website below: http://kieranchauhan.com