IFFI 2023: Leave your egos while shooting a film, says filmmaker Tarsem

Filmmaker Tarsem Singh and cinematographer Brendan Galvin shared their cinematic wisdom with the audience at a Masterclass during IFFI 2023
Filmmaker Tarsem Singh (left) and cinematographer Brendan Galvin (right) at a Masterclass during IFFI 2023.
Filmmaker Tarsem Singh (left) and cinematographer Brendan Galvin (right) at a Masterclass during IFFI 2023.

Filmmaker Tarsem Singh, known for films like Immortals (2011), The Fall (2006), and Dear Jassi, which won an award at the Toronto International Film Festival, hosted an unconventional ‘In Conversation’ session along with cinematographer Brendan Galvin at the ongoing Masterclass series at IFFI 2023.

He broke the usual formal format of lengthy discussions between the speakers, and directly opened the floor for questions from film students and film buffs present at the Kala Academy auditorium in Panjim.

Filmmaker Tarsem Singh (left) and cinematographer Brendan Galvin (right) at a Masterclass during IFFI 2023.
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The result was a fun, informative, in-depth informal session on a range of topics that covered their filmmaking journey.

Both have worked on projects together like Mirror, Mirror and Immortals. For Immortals, Singh shared, “I told Brendon that everyone was making comic script books, and I wanted to make it like a painting, like a Caravaggio. I usually don’t take comic scripts or pictures of other films to the DP or anyone. I just showed him paintings of Caravaggio.”

Filmmaker Tarsem Singh (left) and cinematographer Brendan Galvin (right) at a Masterclass during IFFI 2023.
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While filmmaking is about big sets, huge amounts of lighting and equipment aren’t always required.

Galvin said, “Sometimes, we don’t need two cameras, but only one in the final edit. We try to hide ourselves; we take the camera away and allow them to act. We capture the moment as opposed to directing it. I see how I can use only one light. The more lights you use, the more problems you have.”

Cinematographer Brendan Galvin (left) and filmmaker Tarsem Singh (right) have worked together on projects such as 'Mirror, Mirror' and 'Immortals'.
Cinematographer Brendan Galvin (left) and filmmaker Tarsem Singh (right) have worked together on projects such as 'Mirror, Mirror' and 'Immortals'.

Both spoke about creating a conducive environment for everyone on the set. Tarsem advised the crew to ‘leave their egos before entering the set as it has nothing to do with the film.’

Galvin felt that phones should be banned on sets since they are distractions to the crew.

Filmmaker Tarsem Singh (left) and cinematographer Brendan Galvin (right) at a Masterclass during IFFI 2023.
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“Put yourself in the place of the actors. Go where they are sitting and look at what they see. Normally, it’ll be a whole crew looking at their phones. Years ago, they didn’t have a phone; they (crew members) would come up with good suggestions,” he said.

In dealing with creative differences, Tarsem advised that they should solve it before they start filming the project. He said, “Once the filming starts, new problems will arise, and people will look at you to solve them.”

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