Home >> Podcasts >> Nishanth Menon on the Entire Process of Short Film Production
Show Notes

Today’s episode is all about film making, precisely the process and different roles involved in making a short film as we get candid with Nishanth Menon, founder of Nish Films, a budding cinematographer and videographer. From sharing his passion for films to his experience of working in his recent short film, the entire process of short film making, creative process of generating mood board, storyboard and shot lists in pre-production, gear needed in film making, various crew members engaged in a short film, importance of colour grading in post-production, his non-film works – we have all of these covered in this session.

Listen to the full Podcast on Spotify

Check out Nishanth’s stunning work on Instagram – Nishanth

Check out Nishanth’s website – Nishfilms

References mentioned in the podcast –
Recreation of Oppenheimer Movie Effects
Mise-en-scène

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Transcript

Vineet (00:01.078) 

Hey everyone, welcome back to Photosynthesis where we talk to some of India’s best and brightest and upcoming talent in the space of photography, videography and just general creative talent. Now today we have with us Nishant Menon who’s basically studied cinematography and worked in, well did you work in Sydney or did you just study there? Hi Nishant. 

Nishanth (00:22.45) 

Yes, I did a couple of gigs there. Hi. Thank you so much, Manit, for getting me on this podcast. Um, yeah. So, uh, back when I was in Sydney, uh, I studied there and I did do a couple of gigs with professional gaffers and grips, worked on a couple of short films and then came back to Mumbai and I’ve been practicing ever since. 

Vineet (00:43.594) 

Yeah, Nishant’s been working for about six years in Bombay. He’s a little too circumspect. He wants to be very sure that we don’t call him an experienced and expert videographer. He wants to be very sure we call him a budding and rising. Well, I think, I think it’s a hallmark of this industry that everyone just like, and I’ve seen this with so many people, they make great stuff and talk on other people’s behalf, right? You’re willing to brag on your client’s behalf, but so many of the creators have met, they’re like… 

Nishanth (01:00.662) 

Yeah. 

Vineet (01:11.906) 

they don’t want to talk too highly of themselves. I think it just goes with the creative space. Everyone just knows. 

Nishanth (01:16.462) 

Yeah, I think we’re just wired that way. Like we don’t like bragging about our work. It’s more like if you’re part of the business gets solved and as long as that’s solved, we’re happy, you know. 

Vineet (01:29.022) 

Now I’ve seen this myself, like even when I was trying to freelance for writing stuff many years ago, I had the same issue. I was, I was very happy to brag about the stuff I’m writing about. Like once I get into it, but I had the same issue of, I was very nervous about talking myself up too much. Imposter syndrome, general nervousness. I don’t know why this completely runs through the industry. Meanwhile, we see MBA types when I am an MBA type, but yeah. 

Nishanth (01:32.031) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (01:47.842) 

Good night. 

Nishanth (01:54.017) 

Yeah. 

Vineet (01:57.626) 

We see MBA types are so happy to brag about what they’ve done, what they’re building and just talk themselves up. I don’t know why this is a thing, but absolutely. 

Nishanth (02:02.958) 

Good. 

Nishanth (02:06.97) 

Right. I guess it’s much like more technical you get the more introvert you get or something. But yeah, yeah. But I mean, I’ve always loved cinematography, to be honest. Like ever since I started watching films, I’ve been watching the same film again and again. And I felt like that was a reason why that is some reason why I’m watching this film again and again. And ever since I just. Well, to be honest. 

Vineet (02:12.689) 

I think so. 

Vineet (02:29.302) 

Which ones? Name a few. Name a few. What are your biggest influences and just the ones you love even if they’re not influences? 

Nishanth (02:34.37) 

First film, which I kept watching again and again, was an animated film, wasn’t a live action film, but it was The Lion King, and I’m sure everyone will just go with that. And that film just kind of touched my heart to another, like different places of my heart. And… 

Along with that, the way that it was made, the kind of work put in, started watching behind the scenes of that, and you know that kind of just got me into filmmaking more and more. And of course it comes to Christopher Nolan films, the first film that he made, to the last, the latest one, Open Eye Web. It’s just, it’s so good, like the way filmography has been transcended over the years is just so amusing. I keep reading books and 

and different ways to upscale myself. Yeah, different ways to make a film. You can either make a film in 10 lakhs or in one lakh, but the point is to make a good film and how to work around that. That’s the real art. 

Vineet (03:36.85) 

I want to actually then segue into actually the film you were, so as we were talking in the morning, you were saying you’ve just recently worked in a short film, which actually had a lot of constraints, very, very specific constraints, including time, money, resources, everything. So I want to ask you a few questions around that. One is how does one actually go about preparing for a short film? Someone wants to make a short film. One is what’s the, how do you start? What all? 

Nishanth (03:45.652) 

Yes. 

Nishanth (03:49.547) 

Yes. 

Nishanth (04:02.384) 

Mm-hmm. 

Vineet (04:05.466) 

is the process that you go through both mentally and you know, just the checklists that you make. Then we’ll get into the challenges and issues of working in India, working on the street in Mumbai, etc. But how do you put together a short film as a DOP, as a videographer, as a cinematographer? What’s your process? 

Nishanth (04:10.692) 

Right. 

Nishanth (04:15.852) 

Go. 

Nishanth (04:23.678) 

Well, quite honestly as a DP, it’s very important to be in line with your director, to be in line with his or her vision. As long as you guys are on the same page, it’s easier and just it’s better going forward. 

So when we meet up, we talk about the idea, you like things about it, you can probably brainstorm a couple of more ideas that we can do on shoot. And we take it from there. We kind of lock down different sections. So as a DP, I’ll just lock down my team as a camera assistant who I’d like to be on board, what kind of lights we want, what kind of cameras we can explore for this shoot, depending on the budget. 

GREY PART FOR REEL 

But yeah, it’s all process oriented. So I’m a heavily process oriented guy. You know, like I love pre-production as much as I love production as a DP. So the more you can plan for things not happening your way is better, you know, like, cause things are never going to work out your way or during production. So when I’m talking with the director, this, I talk about storyboarding this, I shot down a short list. 

We go for a location rekeh and we, you know, plan the shots out accordingly. And, you know, we all just come to one agreement, you know, as a production. And then we take it forward, you know, then we look for different teams we can work with. And yeah, that’s then that’s when the director takes lead on the project. But what we… 

Vineet (06:01.134) 

So let’s take a step by step. First, the creative process. So what was, are you comfortable talking about what this short film was? What was the creative process like? 

Nishanth (06:08.554) 

Yeah, I can tell you in brief what it was about. Of course, we’ve just shot this and it’s very fresh in my head. So and it’s just under edit as we speak. So I won’t be able to reveal much about the project, but it was a lovely project. Well, it’s a drama that which we shot. And it’s this lovely 15 minute shot about. 

Vineet (06:22.102) 

Give us the ending, give us the ending. Who dies? Give us the ending. 

Nishanth (06:36.427) 

a female’s perspective of being in a toxic relationship. So my friend came to me with this script and it was, I was just like, I was so… 

I was shocked after reading the script. I was like, this is such a damn good script. And it’s written so damn well. I could picture each and every shot in my head whilst reading the script. And that’s the beauty of a script, you know, when you can picture it in your head. So that’s one of the things that I enjoy working on such projects. So in the beginning, we kind of brainstormed on stuff for how we can shoot this and… 

We took it from there and then everything goes to the boring part, then it’s paperwork and planning and stuff like that, which normally people would fade away from. But I don’t know, if you want to work as a team and there’s a certain understanding between you and your director, it just goes like cakewalk. 

Vineet (07:33.43) 

No, let’s go through this. So, so first there’s a creative process, the ideation. You’ve got this script. What for you is the creative part of the pre-planning process or the pre-production process, not the technical side. What is the creative side? What are you doing on the creative side before you actually plan the technical part? 

Nishanth (07:38.933) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (07:53.263) 

I like to dive into the character’s mind. Like if the director has a couple of characters and if the protagonist is doing something. And so it affects the camera movement. It affects the light. So I have a certain palette and camera movement already in my head. So that’s the creative aspect that I look at whenever I talk to a director. Or. 

whenever he or she would come to me with such an idea. After that, we kind of go from there, like which, what style the film. 

needs at the end of the day because it’s very important to be respectful of the kind of film you’re making. So you have to really, you can’t really go off board and be like, Oh, like, you know, I’m just going to make the camera fly around in a helicopter and get a wide shot of this and that. And you know, that’s just not practical. I mean, it’s, it wouldn’t, you have to be respectable to the script. So 

Vineet (08:48.926) 

and the budget. Any copies are expensive. 

Nishanth (08:50.07) 

And the budget as well, yes. Yes, as creatives, we tend to go above budget. Like, you know, your mind’s just it works like a monkey mind and your just mind goes like, OK, we can do this. We can go that. Cast this guy and you know, you. Yeah. But once the budget is set, you’re like, OK, let’s just come down to earth, you know, to see what’s realistic, but also plan about how to launch your rocket. 

Vineet (09:15.15) 

So you would, so you’re looking at a script and you are planning, okay, this particular scene is from the woman’s point of view. So it should be focusing on her or it should be POV, like, you know, it should be focused on the man when she’s talking. So this all you’re doing and you’re penning this down, right? All of this. 

Nishanth (09:25.455) 

Yes, yes, right, right. Right, right. 

Yes, yes, as we go, we’re just spinning it down. We got it on a storyboard and then, you know, we just take it from there. And then comes a technical aspect. But the crux of your film is always to stay true to your script and, you know, to the characters as well. So to show what your characters are perceiving is kind of what my job is to portray what my director wants to show. So that’s, that’s what I enjoy doing. And that’s the first creative step on any short film. Like you have to nail. 

look and feel of your short film from the pre-production. So thank you. 

Vineet (10:06.158) 

And then, okay, so you’ve done this listing, the shortlist down. So there’s a storyboard, a shortlist, a mood board. What are these three things? How are they separate? How do they play into the process? 

Nishanth (10:10.302) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (10:16.754) 

Right. So you I like to first dive into a mood board where you get a usual know about how the director wants this film to look. Here’s how to look. So you get a blanket of like you get a good palette of colors and you know how to go about it. So I like to see my storyboard coming first after that. And. 

Sometimes a short list comes before, it depends. So once the short list is pinned down, then I move forward to storyboarding. So once that is, and that comes after you visit the location. So once you visit the location, gives you a better view on how and where to place the lights and cameras. So it’s better to storyboard in that process. So first would come mood boarding. 

Vineet (11:09.578) 

And is this all text or are you also sketching? Are you drawing illustrations? 

Nishanth (11:12.542) 

I’m sketching on the way. Yeah. So when I’m, I have an app on my phone and I just click away on that and it kind of organizes stuff on, uh, like a short wise, like a nice short list on my, on the app and, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s fun. Like once you get on, uh, on the location, you know. 

how this film is going to look. You get a little better idea on how it’s going to look when it comes to visuals. So yeah, getting this photo is very important. If you have a director’s view on board, then might as well go bananas with that. 

Yeah, that’s the creative way and after that you just keep thinking on how better we can make this, how faster. And then you have to also think about time. You know, how much time we have to shoot on that day. Is this possible or not? Is it smart spending this much time on the scene? Or should we move forward? You know, stuff like this, a lot of technicalities that come after that. But this is the fun part when it comes to sketching down your story onto a piece of paper and, you know, seeing where it goes. 

Vineet (12:19.338) 

And then what? So, okay, now you’ve got the storyboard. Shortlist storyboard is all ready. Now the technical part, right? How do you plan for gear? 

Nishanth (12:22.771) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (12:30.11) 

For gear, depending on the budget, we look to different options. It comes to lights. We have… 

a blanket of different kinds of lights that we can use according to the budget, comes to gear and camera as well. There are a lot of ways you can go around it. You know, if you don’t have that much of budget, but you want to still achieve that look, you can always, you know, beg, borrow and steal. So that’s, that’s always there. So, I mean, as filmmakers with thieves that way, right, we, we work with a certain budget, but we, our picture 

that the budget was quite a lot. You know, the gravity of the project was a lot at the end. Like, we’re good at manipulating the audiences in that way. So that’s a skill you’re supposed to… 

Vineet (13:19.438) 

Yeah, I’ve seen this tweet today where someone recreated a lot of the Oppenheimer effects where he’s in his real sequence right now. Do you see that? That’s fantastic. 

Nishanth (13:24.586) 

Yes, yes, I’ve seen that. Yes. Oh, that was incredible. Yes. The particle effect. And yeah, in his own garage. Yeah. So inspiring. So inspiring. I saw that. And that just inspired me to, you know, do more projects like that. Like, you know, if I get a chance to recreate projects, because I’ve done that in the past and I really do miss doing that. Hello. 

THIS PART BOTH OF THEM IS TALKING TOGETHER,  

Vineet (13:30.771) 

Recreate it, then it’s home. 

Vineet (13:35.37) 

Yeah, that’s just crazy in levels of inventiveness. I will try to link to that tweet in the show notes if I can find it again. I hate social media, it doesn’t let us search for anything. But that was just amazing. 

Vineet (13:55.306) 

This is where we pause. Are you there? I’ve lost you. 

Nishanth (13:59.255) 

Hello. 

END OF FIRST PART 

Vineet (00:01.41) 

So budget wise then what do you so there’s lighting, there’s camera rentals, what else comes in the budget for a DOP? What else do you, is it props your department, props are separate. 

Nishanth (00:11.952) 

No, no, the props normally don’t they don’t come in the budget of the DOP. It’s normally your camera assistant the camera rentals the lights the gears Your gaffer and your grip pretty much if you have a two gaffer and grips You’ll have to accommodate for their cost to sometimes the production takes care of them. Sometimes it’s under me 

If it’s a small production, like, so for example, if I’m doing brand reels or something, we could be quoted differently. So the equipments and lights and cameras go according to the brand’s visual direction, visual palette. And like, I mean, the DOPs charges are different. 

So it kind of varies from project to project sometimes, but when it comes to visuals, that’s what comes under the visual bracket. So it’s normally DOP, the camera equipment, lights, grip, gaffer, camera systems. Yeah, pretty much that sums it up. 

Vineet (01:21.175) 

Yep, yep. 

Nishanth (01:28.944) 

So the other sections of the film is taking care of other departments. It’s just like art departments are different departments, sound department is different, casting crew and everything else, yeah. 

Vineet (01:43.17) 

So now that’s basically the storyboard shortlist and your equipment is ready. What else? Is there anything else in pre-production? What else do you do? 

Nishanth (01:48.794) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (01:53.192) 

Uh, pre-production, well, according to me, uh, the more you plan is still the less, um, less, it’s just less, right? You, you always just, uh, there’s always more to plan for a shoot, you know, and, uh, I just sometimes get stuck in too much planning, but, uh, this is pretty much the crux of, of it. Like if you have all of this in place, like your script, your storyboard, your, uh, mood board. 

and kind of references like, you know, video references, if the director or producer has shared with you all of them, along with your cast or something, you know, so that we can get a view about how this project is going to go moving forward. That’s pretty much it. 

Vineet (02:38.726) 

You’re shooting a short film in Bombay, there’s no such thing as too much planning. It can’t be any such thing as too much planning. So in fact, take us through this short film that you just did. How was the planning process and what do you think you should have done extra? What went missing in the process? 

Nishanth (02:42.316) 

Oh yeah, that’s true. Right. 

Nishanth (02:55.824) 

I feel time was the thing that we needed more on the pre-production and production as well. It’s just the most crucial part of the process. Because time is money, pretty much, right? So it’s like coherent sometimes. And staying in a fast-moving place like Bombay, that’s how you think, and that’s how people think too. 

So to kind of compensate for that, to work in a very scranged time period is a little challenging sometimes. And it does kind of dig into your creative vision. But that’s something that as filmmakers, you’re supposed to overcome. And you’re supposed to like, it has to be overseen. 

with the experiences you have over the years. So I really wish that we had more time, of course, like all the rest of the projects, I’m sure. 

All the DOPs around there would agree with me that if you have more time on a project, it’s just, you know, you get more better quality out of the thing. So that’s just one thing. But apart from that, everything was like smooth as butter. The kind of team we got together was like a very core team that understood each other’s requirements. And, you know, me and the director, we were just like, you know, one look at the director and you know what he or she is thinking, you know, that kind of a vibe that that’s very important to have on set, you know. 

like that kind of communication, like you might not just have a headphone on you to communicate with other teams. You don’t have that leverage, but you should have the kind of understanding that we have planned this and we have agreed to be, everyone has collectively agreed to be on one page. That’s important, you know. 

Vineet (04:48.418) 

How do you build that? How do you get? Is there a planned way to get there or is it just like chemistry between the team? 

Nishanth (04:54.084) 

It’s partly chemistry too, it’s partly vision, it’s how you communicate. The communication is key to get any project. 

GREY PART IS FOR REEL 

as per your director or the producer’s vision. You know, the communication between you and the director and other teams as well. So what we do is we gather up on a table and we just, you know, brainstorm on ideas. And then we just jot down the things what we have agreed on and what we can agree on in the future, like, you know. And we just work it from there. And it’s very important that everyone just stays 

bubble. And sure, there will be hiccups during the process, but there are always disaster management ways of handling things. So you’ve got to take them under consideration as well. So it’s a lot of ups and downs during a project, but the main goal is to get there where you want to as a team and get to that kind of quality. 

Vineet (06:02.634) 

Now let’s get to the set day one of the shoot. You are the DOP. So in a short film that is like, so I know nothing. I won’t even say, let’s assume I know nothing. I know I actually know nothing about the process. You’re effectively the director, right? You’re the one telling people what to do, where to go, going by your shortlist or is that the actual. 

Nishanth (06:04.701) 

Mm-hmm. 

Nishanth (06:12.941) 

Right. 

Nishanth (06:21.708) 

No, right. Well, right. No, no. Finally, it is the director’s call. He or she does guide the actors on where they want to be. And, you know, that’s, that’s their department right there, directing the actors on how to act, you know, the kind of character motivation, all that is their department. 

The kind of communication that goes between me and the director is usually visuals and blocking and stuff like that. You know how this action is supposed to be portrayed onto the screen. How do we show that? So that’s the kind of communication that goes around between me and the director. We usually frame up our shot and then we see if this works. And you know if that… 

If that color palette works for him or her, we go about it and we make the changes. Um, and then we work through a blocking, which takes like maybe half an hour and an hour, depending on the script, depending on how complex the blocking is. Uh, if necessary for this short film, it wasn’t that complex. It was pretty simple. Uh, but yeah, this is the, that’s the kind of process that goes through. And, uh, so before getting on set, I line up with my gaffer and grip. 

you talk to them, you tell them what lighting you need and what like if it’s pre-planned, they already know if it’s not, you kind of brush them up on it and you know, you take it from there. So as a DP, I’m just on my toes from pre-lighting to shooting to also like after like making sure everything is been done after the shoot as well, you know. 

So yeah, I like to kind of make sure everything is going smooth as possible and, you know, everyone is happy at the end of the day. 

Vineet (08:09.794) 

So let’s, so actually then let’s get into the rules. What are the, who are the different people on set for a short film? Let’s like a full film production. I’m sure there’s like a hundred, 200, 300 people on set. For a short film like this, who are the people on set and what are they doing? So let’s start with the director. So the director is the person running the show. 

Nishanth (08:20.897) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (08:30.204) 

You’re right, yeah. Yeah. So as like if you’re looking at a skeletal team like we worked on for a short film, it mainly consists of a director, a DP. Director has a team, he or she will have an assistant director, a first AD, second AD, then there’ll be a sound department. Sound department will consist of two or three people depending on the size of the project. 

Then there’s a camera department. Now camera department will have camera assistance, attendance, then we’ll have a lighting department their lighting attendance and stuff. Then there’s a grip, grip will be with their team. And you know, that’s kind of, so we’re talking about a total of, well. 

30 people on set, you know, with different departments, you have styling, we have costumes, we have continuity director, we have spot boys. If we have… 

Nishanth (09:34.972) 

We have directors assistants, we have sound, yeah, actors, yeah, we have them too. We have actors and we have their assistants also, different makeup artists for them sometimes. Yeah, different stylists for different actors if the budget allows. So yeah, a blanket of different kind of people dedicated to doing different tasks. And we, and you know, the film is where we all marry to each other. 

Vineet (09:40.813) 

actors. 

Nishanth (10:04.696) 

So that’s kind of how we went about with my latest short film. Yeah, we were a team of 30 people, I would say. Team of 30 people on set going from different locations to another all over Bombay, traveling here and there. And yeah, that’s kind of what you’re bidding for. That’s life. And. 

Vineet (10:30.37) 

So, and these are all people other than the actors. Most of these people are basically studying like film, right? The DOPs are studying film, the AD, the director, everyone’s studying film, whether they go to a formal film school or not, but this is what they’re working towards. So if someone’s in film school, how do they end up choosing or how should they end up choosing what they want to be between DOP, between a lighting person, between a… 

Nishanth (10:39.836) 

Yeah, yeah, most of them, yeah. 

Nishanth (10:45.072) 

Mostly yeah, yeah. Yes. Yes, yes. 

Vineet (11:00.078) 

Director, AD of course, I’m guessing is a stepping stone to director. 

Nishanth (11:03.392) 

Yes, yes, right, right. 

Vineet (11:05.595) 

Uh… Yeah, how should you look at it? 

Nishanth (11:09.696) 

Well, it’s mostly about what you’re interested in and like what you can bring to the table as an artist. So if you join film school thinking I’ll just see how I go and you know we’ll see on the last year of film school how I can paint my story then sure you can go about it that way but it’s important to like 

Find your niche. You know, if you’re good at directing, if you find yourself good at aiding or something on student film sets, you always start with student film sets as a student film, as a student obviously. 

So you kind of do that mental math in your head. You know, you kind of, you ask people about your services that you’ve provided. How did you like it? Do you feel that I’m good at this or that you get different, uh, like a third person’s point of view, and also you look within yourself to about what you want. 

And there’s always market, you got to check the market too. You know, like if there’s an abundance of DOPs and you want a DOP as well, you, and if you’re good at directing, just go for directing. You know, you never know. It’s always, I’ve listened to my heart pretty much. 

Vineet (12:21.818) 

But is there a personality type thing also, like something that drags people to certain sort of fields? 

Nishanth (12:28.248) 

Not necessarily, but it does have its pros and cons. Like if you’re a people person, it helps a lot if you’re a director, because you have to constantly talk to your actors, talk to your team again. And you know, I mean, being a people person itself is a feather on your cap, to be honest. If you’re on a film set, it helps you a lot to like, you know, being able to manage your team and with other people. So… 

Vineet (12:55.094) 

Yeah, being an introvert and being a director seems more difficult. 

Nishanth (12:58.14) 

Yeah, it’s a bit of a dicey thing, but it honestly there are so many directors who are such introverts, but makes beautiful films out there. You know, like, I mean, like we were just talking Christopher Nolan told, I mean, he doesn’t, he doesn’t have an Instagram. He’s not on social media. He’s such an introverted guy, but you see in the kind of films he makes. So it has very less to do with your personality and more to do with your art. That’s the way I see it. 

Vineet (13:28.306) 

And what does an AD do? What’s an AD’s role on set? 

Nishanth (13:31.484) 

The AD usually communicates between the director and the production team. So there’s your prop AD who is just dedicated for props. Then there’s an AD dedicated to communicating stuff between different teams. So it’s mostly communication, a left brain activity that an AD does. 

Nishanth (13:59.731) 

which will help them, I mean, obviously be a director at the end of the day. I mean, you’ll have to see the whole process. It helps once you see the whole process of the film. That’s the way you can lead your film. Like, you know, a director usually leads his or her film. So. 

That’s the stepping stone. Like once you are a really good AD and you can nail it, you know that for a fact, you can be a good director because you have dealt with people in the past. And believe me, there are all kinds of people. I’m sure you can agree with me. Like, you know, it gets tricky sometimes, but that’s the beauty of it. You know, the industry trains you and grooms you that way. So once you have reached to that level, you know that you can, you know, take color shots. 

Vineet (14:46.558) 

And one thing I’ve just never understood in my entire life, what does a producer do? And even beyond that, I’m guessing short films doesn’t apply, but in a large film, what does an executive producer do? 

Nishanth (14:53.78) 

I’m out. 

Nishanth (14:58.758) 

Right, right. 

Nishanth (15:02.79) 

Quite honestly, even I don’t know what an executive press does. The mystery is still a mystery. But my experience is… 

Vineet (15:09.046) 

What does a producer do? Like bring a checkbook or now these days, like do set-on-set doing UPI payments? Like, you know, using. 

Nishanth (15:15.044) 

Yeah, right, right. It’s mostly helping out the producer with technicalities, comes to payments. Executive producer has very little to do with the creative part of the production. It always depends on who the executive producer is, but as per my knowledge, it’s more of a left brain activity. It’s more of a technical logistics department that they manage. 

Vineet (15:44.022) 

Which one is it? So left brain is the analytical stuff and right brain is a creative one, right? I keep getting confused. Huh. So producer, I would assume. Yeah. The guy, the, or the woman responsible for the payments and making sure things stay in budget. 

Nishanth (15:46.972) 

Yeah. Right. 

Nishanth (15:58.604) 

Yeah, that’s usually, yeah. Right. Also the line producers also. The line producer, uh, gets, uh, 

Vineet (16:03.591) 

What does a line producer do? 

Nishanth (16:09.956) 

all the other departments in line. So if you want to make a part as you want different other departments, sometimes some production houses also bank on the line producers to get their DOP or to look for a director or some brands. Yeah, some brands go to freelance line producers and tell them, look, I got this project. I had this budget, get me a director, DP, makeup artist, whatever, blah, blah. You take care of all the things. So there are different variations of line producers 

Vineet (16:21.867) 

find people. 

Nishanth (16:39.89) 

where they reside. So on this short film that we worked on, a friend of mine was both producer and line producers. So he was doing all the brain work to get people on board and budgeting for people and you know, you know, negotiating and stuff like that. So there’s a lot of hats my line, my producer wore on this short film. 

Vineet (17:02.114) 

But isn’t it the same role in a sense like, okay, here’s 10 lakh rupees or here’s a crore or here’s 5 crores, go out and get me all the teams we need. 

Nishanth (17:10.208) 

Right, right. Do we? Yeah, sure. It is similar, but it’s always better to give part of that responsibility to someone else so that you can focus on producing. So as a producer, if there’ll be n number of things that you will have to make sure for the shoot and before the shoot, budget things and stuff like that, if it’s always helpful to kind of… You know… 

Vineet (17:21.695) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (17:37.5) 

channelize all of that to someone else as well you know so that they can take care of budgeting this department the other department can take care of this so that you can focus on your craft so that’s just not pressurizing yourself too much you know 

So it always helps. I mean, as a DP too, I can not go for a camera assist as well. But if there’s a camera assist on board, it quickens the process. I mean, it’s better, and it also helps you to get a better quality output. There’s a focus puller, there’s a camera assist, there’s a lot of departments under a DOP too. So a team always helps you to get where you want to. 

Vineet (18:23.754) 

Yeah, yeah, that makes sense. And after the shoot is done, once the rushes are handed off to the editor, what’s your role after that as the DOP? 

Nishanth (18:37.556) 

So as a DOP I usually sit with the colorist and according to the color palette we discussed with the DOP, I make sure I communicate that color palette to my colorist. Sometimes it’s another colorist, sometimes it’s the editor who does the color grading for a shot. So that’s kind of how it goes. So I have this kind of color palette which I have discussed with my director. 

And I go to that color palette, I take that color palette and I go to my colorist and I tell him that, okay, this shot, I want this kind of look. I want this character to feel like this. This is supposed to be a moody scene. So can we… 

you know, cut down, can we get a little bit more contrast on this character or, you know, can we darken the background a little bit or something like this? A lot you can play around, but it comes to color grading and which is something mostly people have, uh, no, next to no idea of, you know, people usually think after you shoot the project is you’re done, you know, like you edited and that’s done, but color grading is such an important aspect in your process. It’s, uh, it, 

GREY PART FOR REEL 

It basically makes you feel like you’re communicating emotion through color grading as well. So that’s equally important. So it’s really okay. Right. Yeah. It’s very, very important. So, yeah, I mean, it’s very important because on set, the way I’m shooting, I’m shooting on raw. Okay. So your footage doesn’t look like it’s supposed to look on the big screen. 

Vineet (19:55.576) 

Alright, this is the first time I’ve heard the term colorist. 

Nishanth (20:16.56) 

All the colors and all are bland. It’s flat as flat as possible So if you’re showing if you’re planning on showing my shots to a client on production That would be a bad idea because the client wouldn’t like it Because your colors the colors on camera are shot on a flat. It’s I’m shooting on RAW so the camera has Uncompressed all the colors and giving you giving the editor and the colorist 

as much as room as possible to play around with when it comes to colors Which is the reason why all DOPs shoot in RAW So That’s when you take it to your colorist and only after that you show it to the world Before that Maybe you shouldn’t I mean as a DP. I don’t like showing my shots to the world before it wins. It’s color graded 

So yeah, that’s just the kind of process. After that, the director sits with the colorist and he or she will confirm if this is good and make a few changes here and there. The colorist obviously will put his or her magic onto the screen as well. And yeah, there you have your cake at the end of the day. 

Vineet (21:29.726) 

No, this is actually a huge learning experience for me. I’m learning who are the different people on set for a short film. I want to get into a bit of your other non short film experience, your ad experience. You’re okay. Let’s say cinematography for brands for corporates. You’ve been doing a lot of fashion cinematography. 

Nishanth (21:35.589) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (21:46.064) 

Right. Yes, yes. I’ve been tapping into a lot of brand reels at the moment. 

Vineet (21:51.99) 

Like what kind of stuff and what kind of clients, I won’t ask you to name them, but like what kind of clients are these? Are these more fashion clients, like clothing brands? 

Nishanth (22:01.84) 

Yeah, so mostly clothing brands, that’s what I’ve been tapping into lately. Cosmetics as well. It’s a nice mixture of clothing or cosmetics product. Mostly they come to me and they want, they have an idea in the head and they ask me if it’s possible and I come to them with a kind of… 

mood board and ideas and stuff, what we can do for your brand, according to the budget, what fits in this idea of wavelength. And we take it from there. We, I mean, now that reels are so hot in the market, each and like every other brand wants a reel on their Instagram because Instagram is pushing reels automatically. And it’s just such a good marketing tool for brands as well. So yeah, lately, brand reels have been a really good experience. 

for me shooting and it’s a quick shoot too and the edit process is also smooth. The client gets the edit in like maybe two days or something depending on the production strength. Yeah it’s a really good process it’s a quick fast quick snackable content that people want. 

I guess that’s the new way of filmmaking now. Of course, as a cinematographer, we always go towards the 16 by nine aspect ratio, but now thanks to Instagram, we are stuck with nine by 16, which I mean, we’ll have to accommodate and we have to go according to the market. 

Vineet (23:36.79) 

That’s one of my biggest gripes in life that I really wish Instagram had turned the app into like a landscape app. Life would have been so much better for all kinds of creators across the world. Everything, even we as a brand, everything we do is now we have to do one vertical version, one horizontal version for no reason. 

Nishanth (23:40.976) 

Yes. 

Nishanth (23:54.388) 

Yes, yes that is mostly most of the brands requests as of now they want their footage on widescreen and on portrait mode sometimes it’s for the website for widescreen portrait mode for 

So I mean, I’m here framing for both then. You know, like I have another camera for portrait and then another camera for landscape. It’s just another story altogether. But it’s fun too, you know, like you have the ability to tap into different languages now, you know, like as to visual languages. So you have the ability to tap into Instagram stories or Reels or something. So that’s in portrait mode. 

There’s a different way you have to shoot when you’re in portrait mode, you know, for the 9×16. And there’s a different language you shoot your short film in. If it’s a short film, there’s a different language you shoot from that. Because on widescreen, there’s something known as mise en scene. So, like, I mean, your picture has to kind of paint the whole story. So as an audience, you’re supposed to… You’d like to grasp as much as information 

you want to off that screen. So when you’re seeing it on portrait mode, it’s a little difficult for you to, there’s just, there’s not a must, there’s not enough space to put information for your audiences to grasp on as to 16 by nine. So yeah, exactly. It’s just talking. Right. 

Vineet (25:24.51) 

Yeah, there’s no environment. It’s just the person. There’s no environment around. It’s just gone. 

Nishanth (25:31.236) 

So it’s basically just good for snackable content for social media. That’s where we’re heading to right now. And that’s, that’s where my, that’s where most of the brand reels are going to now. And the way I’ve worked with these brand reels to, is the same kind of process I’ve put together for, when I’ve shot for short films in the past. We get together, we see what, what kind of mood board goes for the brand, what color palette they like. 

the kind of video references, put everything down on a piece of paper, tell them what’s possible and what’s not, be as transparent as possible. And before you know it, you’re ready to shoot on the shoot day. And also setting expectations to your client is also important during the process. So setting those expectations and delivering to them as well, it’s a huge experience curve, it’s a huge learning curve and… 

You know, that’s pretty much what people want at this time and age, you know, they want quick dependable people to work with and that 

Vineet (26:38.614) 

And how do you find work? Online, social media, network, what’s, is there one way to, that you. 

Nishanth (26:42.944) 

Network is mostly it’s word of mouth what I’ve been experiencing. You know, if people, someone comes to me and says, Hey, do you know a good director around the corner? Do you or do you know who can direct this? I have a couple of people. I know a couple of people and I will recommend them. 

Why I would recommend them is because I have worked with them and I depend on my art with them. So, you know, that’s the thing that I have experienced over the years is people work with people only if they depend on them. You know, you would obviously… There was this analogy that I read the other day. If you want to find a babysitter for your baby and there’s… 

two options. There’s a person who you know in your nearby temple or mosque who comes who is an engineer but doesn’t have a rating as a babysitter online and but there’s another option a five-star rating but you don’t know that person but he or she still has a five-star rating but is of a different country or like you know you just you just don’t know that you will 

I mean, I’m ready to put my house on the line where I can bet that you will send your baby to the engineer because you depend on the engineer. You’ve met that person or like whoever that is. What I’m trying to say is that you would always want to put your time and money on people that you depend on rather than people. 

Vineet (28:22.99) 

Absolutely. So we do, we do shoots across the country using or collaborating with our creative network. And for us reliability, though, we realized very early on is one of the top parameters. We need to know that if we have engaged a guy for a shoot, if he says, I will be there Friday at 9 a.m., we need to know that, yes, I don’t need to worry about it. He will be there Friday at 9 a.m. So reliability is… 

Nishanth (28:30.685) 

Good night. 

Nishanth (28:35.417) 

Yeah. 

Nishanth (28:40.534) 

Yeah. 

Yes, yes. 

Nishanth (28:48.356) 

Yeah. And that’s what makes and breaks a project, right? I mean, if a person lacks in a project, you might just see that at the end of the day. It does hamper, it’s a domino effect that happens. Yeah, like as you rightfully said, if someone’s late on set or something. 

it will hamper the whole process and you don’t want that. And it looks bad on you at the end of the day too. So to not take that risk, that’s how I’ve been functioning over the years, just dabbling with people I know and also kind of hustling with connections that… 

would get to my creative vision or to the brand’s creative vision. It’s a gamble at the end of the day. But if you do it with people, you know it’s a safe gamble. You know you’re going to win. 

Vineet (29:40.158) 

Yeah, yeah. I will end on that note. This has been a great discussion. Plot in Suite. And very, very specific. 

Nishanth (29:48.553) 

I hope I gave you as much content as you needed I’m so sorry I’m not that good at giving knowledge behind the camera because I’m so much in the technical aspect of working behind the camera it’s just it’s a good experience 

Vineet (30:06.294) 

No, this was great. This was very, very specific and like. Very helpful for me at least. And I’m sure for our audience also, obviously. Uh, so thanks for joining us. Thank you guys for watching. Yeah. Watch this. Well, we are, you are watching this on YouTube or listening to us on Spotify. Sign up and follow us. Yeah. On all platforms, the usual stuff, what everyone says, and we will link in the show notes to some of. 

Nishanth (30:14.596) 

Great. 

Nishanth (30:19.548) 

Thank you so much. 

Nishanth (30:30.992) 

Yes. 

Vineet (30:35.59) 

Nishan’s references that he’s mentioned and of course his work. So yeah. Thanks guys for tuning in. Bye bye. 

Nishanth (30:40.636) 

beautiful artworks. Thank you so much. Stay tuned. 

Nishanth (30:46.516) 

Cheers. 

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