Hello Christina, congratulations on your outcome at Berlin Fashion Film Festival 2018 – We’d like to know more about your winning film Perfect In Her Own Right!

How did it all start? What was your original vision for the project, and where did the idea come from?

My aim is to create stories that champion women, of all ages. I am also a firm believer in lightness, irreverence and telling stories that are visually playful. You can get at topics of profound seriousness through an irreverent narrative. For example, the message at the centre of Perfect In Her Own Right is that we are all made of the same elements (this is an Ayurvedic principle) but these elements are expressed differently in each of us, which is what makes us unique. We are complex – even what we perceive as our flaws makes us perfect in our own right.

Now – if we could all realise that we would be far more content and satisfied human beings.

I enjoy drawing upon rich cultural and historic information, which is especially fascinating in India. Perfect In Her Own Right features three flowers: rose, jasmine and nargis (or daffodil). Each of these flowers have cultural and historic context in South Asia. The bit at the beginning about the 16th Century Mughal Emperor Babur naming his daughters different types of roses stems from this (Ha! Was that a floral pun?). As does the character Nargis named after the famous Bollywood film actress. As does the Indianism of using rose oil to calm nerves. I delight in researching and writing scripts that access these contexts at different moments – even in one as short as two minutes.

Most unforgettable moment during the shoot?

After the shoot was finished my wonderful assistant director Epti and I sat sprawled on the floor sorting through bills and picking up the last bits in utter exhaustion, saying thank god we’ve done it.

Tell us more about the production – Your chance to give a shout out to your partners in crime! 

Mira Kulkarni, the head of Forest Essentials is due the great thanks. She had the trust, chutzpah and boldness to encourage me to do something outside of the box. I respect her as an entrepreneur, a relentless pursuer of perfection and as a friend.

I am blessed with a wonderful team. The cast was glorious. Varun Sud, our Director of Photography captured the film beautifully. Punam Boro and the art direction team were able to create entire worlds from a single location with great detail, imagination and sophistication. Epti Pattnaik and I are in the trenches together. She is brilliant from conceptualisation to her camera eye. Sandeep Gandhi did a magnificent job with the post production, including the grading which is what gives the film the extra visual panache it needs. The entire Forest Essentials team is wonderful to work with.

What are your creative patterns connected to a project like this?

It all begins with the original narrator’s voice, Myra, the young girl. And then it develops from there as you create the world and the context she fits in and eventually the family created around her.

As mentioned above, my creative patterns are usually 1) stories that champion women 2) creating a visually playful films 3) using lightness and irreverence in getting at larger subjects and 4) including a strong cultural / historic context even in a film as short as two minutes. Perfect In Her Own Right draws upon these.

You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

Meeting everyone on the team was serendipitous. All wonderful happenstances that brought us together. In terms of continuing these relationships, I place great value on everyone in the team. These are talented and important people to me, both in a professional and personal capacity. I think if you have this value and respect it continues to reverberate throughout your professional relationships over the years.

A life creating films – What would be the best advice? And what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far as a filmmaker?

Get ready to do all jobs. It’s best to know film production from start to finish. How to shoot, edit, write, produce and change the light bulbs. It doesn’t mean you will do all of those jobs full time and forever but it’s extremely helpful to experience all of them so you can appreciate the challenges that come with each. This also makes you a more helpful collaborator to your colleagues so you can collectively solve issues and push the boundaries of what you want to do.

What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why? Recent film that inspired you?

Clearly I am a fan of Wes Anderson.

Film title for the story of your life?

Perpetually on skates.

Perfect Preparation or the Magic of Improvisation?

Perfect preparation.

Which director or Hollywood icon – living or not living – would you work with if given the chance?

The Coen Brothers and Frances McDormand. Wes Anderson. Julie Delpy. Emma Thompson.

What makes BFFF special?

The Berlin Fashion Film Festival has a special place in my heart because it provided a great opportunity to show our film at an international forum. BFFF integrates films from many countries, which is particularly attractive. The festival feels intimate and yet it’s ambitiously global in its reach of films featured.

 

What do festival’s like the BFFF mean to you?

It’s thrilling. It’s a chance to see what else is happening in the field and meet with fellow filmmakers and industry experts. I loved attending BFFF and recommend it to others with a key interest in fashion film.

We’re curious? What can we expect from you in the near future?

I am doing a lot of animation projects. I have one series debuting in January about the history of India’s Mughal gardens and Emperor Babur’s desire to transplant Central Asian ideals of paradise to northern India. To create these films we are animating the original Mughal artwork from the 16th and 17th centuries. This series will serve as the museum guide piece for visitors to the original Mughal gardens sites in Agra, India – adjacent to the Taj Mahal.