BY KINJAL SETHIA
“I don’t like the name Master Craftsman. I am not a teacher. Anyone who listens to me today will not suddenly start making better films, which get great reviews or make money. I just hope that my experience allows me to give you some tips for your own ideas. I just want to give some information and experience, and speak about ideas,” said Dan Wolman, addressing the packed audience at his Masterclass on November 24.
The recipient of the International Film Festival of India’s Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 continued, “I hope I am not given this honour only for the film, but also the way these films were made. It is just that a person who is not rich, who is not upper middle class, just a regular guy can make films that are watched for 50 years. Some of the films that I have made really go against common sense. My films are not mainstream. My first film was shot inside an old age home. My second film was also about old people, shot in black and white, and then people told me this would be my last film. Even the subjects that I have dealt with are daring and marginal.”
Wolman says, “When I address such audiences as today, I only hope that there would be someone crazy like me in the audience, who has ideas, but no means. And then I can give them strength to implement their ideas.”
Speaking about his approach to writing, “I would put immense work into a script, and it was painful when the big producers rejected it, or did not get back to me. Now, I write two kinds of scripts. In one script, I put in all that I want. It may have ships, aeroplanes, the army of Napoleon. And the other one, I write for when I cannot wait to get the first script approved. This one could be made with my friends on my own. And I give myself a time frame. By the target date, if I don’t get funds for the first script, I go ahead with the second.”
Wolman cited the biblical story of two hunters. Nimrod is a unique hunter who has a lot of patience. He would prepare well for the whole day, and shoot the antelope with one arrow. Esau is cunning. He would shoot quiversful of arrows in all directions, and one was likely to hit the antelope. Wolman says, “I am like the second hunter. You cannot wait to make a masterpiece every time. Even Van Gogh did not paint the sunflowers with the intention to make them a masterpiece. As artists, you have to decide what kind of film-makers you want to be. I believe it is important to work continuously. I don’t mind making bad film, even though the critic’s review hurt sometimes. But it is important to keep doing what you want to do.”