SxSW 2016 Interview: LOEV director Sudhanshu Saria
By Jason Whyte
Posted 03/05/16 05:41:33
"LOEV is a nuanced, intimate, honest love story between two men who are negotiating the boundaries of their friendship. Though it takes place in India where homosexuality was recently criminalized, it's not a traditional, activist film per se -- more of a realistic peek into what gay life is like on the ground in 2016 Mumbai." Director Sudhanshu Saria on LOEV which screens at the 2016 edition of the South By Southwest Film Festival.
I am very happy to hear your movie is showing at SxSW! Is this is your first time having a movie show in Austin?
Yes! And having grown up on all the directors who have been discovered by SXSW, I am thrilled that the festival picked the film.
Talk to me a bit about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!
After finishing my film school from Ithaca College in Upstate New York, I actually worked on the business side of things holding executive jobs in distribution, development and production. Two years ago, I quit everything and moved to Mumbai to make this passion project and my first film.
Interesting background! So how did LOEV come together for you?
It is still a bit of a mystery to me! Strategically, it was the worst move on my part; writing a film that is sure to be banned in its home country and a film that required me to raise money and shoot in India, a country I have spent zero days in as a film professional. But I kept moving forward and miracles kept occurring and now I'm here with my finished film.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
Compliments! It can be a simple pat on the back or a note of encouragement from someone on the cast or crew. I know it sounds clinical but yeah, I really thrive on approval.
What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?
The biggest challenge would have to be finding the money. We are still at it. It's financed with a lot of people's pro-bono work and favors. Every day, a new need comes up and we have to go out looking for more money to try and convince people that the costs are legitimate.
The most rewarding moment would have to be that world premiere screening at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn. Having your Q&A cancelled because the audience is too emotional to participate is an experience I would recommend to every filmmaker.
I am about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you use to shoot, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
We used an Arri Alexa as well as a Black Magic Pocket camera. I went to film school with our director of photography Sherri Kauk. We had not really worked there or in the decade since but I thought of her when I finished this script and called her. She read it and decided to abandon her life and come to India for it. Having her by my side made me feel more at home in India, like I had someone right by me who understood my references and narrative goals. It was shot in 16 days and a couple of half shifts over a very chaotic summer in Mumbai.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your LOEV here in Austin?
Nothing and everything. I don't want to ruin it with preconceived notions. I am going to focus on being open and available to whatever it is that the moment gives me.
After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?
BFI Flare. I jump on a plane to London right after SXSW ends!
If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?
Cinemapolis in Ithaca, New York. It was my college town theater and I have lots of fond memories with friends and of having seen amazing movies there.
What would you say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?
I would give them a hug and refuse to let go until they had turned their phone off. I would try to really work up a sweat before I did this.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
Be grateful. We are the only ones who NEED to get our movies made. No one owes us a movie.
And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
I'll go with a recent favorite, which was MIA MADRE at Cannes last year.
Be sure to follow the progress of LOEV by following on Twitter at @iamsuds!
We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our interview series for our site. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!
This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte