It’s common wisdom that moviemaking is a collaborative art. But “Unknown” demonstrates that a multi-talented moviemaker can go it alone. New Delhi filmmaker Akhilesh Tripathi wrote, directed, starred in, edited, and scored this astonishing sci fi short, about the life of a hacker/cracker who creates strange computer programs. The following interview takes us behind the scenes of Akhilesh’s production.
MMM: What camera did you use to shoot “Unknown.”
Akhilesh: Two cameras: an iPhone 3g and a Micromax Canvas 2.
MMM: Why did you use a mobile rather than a traditional camera.
Akhilesh: When I was writing the script and was in pre-production, I thought that the time had come to make it simple. Using a mobile is an easy and quick way to shoot.
MMM: How did you get the story idea for “Unknown”?
Akhilesh: Generally, I’m thinking and imagining new concepts ideas, and I keep track of ideas that I like. For some time I had been thinking about the concept for “Unknown”: a boy (Alex) got an unknown letter and an unknown call, which was about cloning himself. I was working on the idea day by day, and the result is the film in front of you.
MMM: You’re credited as handling all aspects of the production. Do you prefer working alone?
Akhilesh: Generally, I do not work alone. Focusing on one task usually is best. But when I decided to make “Unknown,” I planned that I would do it all by myself. That’s the highlight of this film.
MMM: How did you develop your filmmaking skills?
Akhilesh: By creating concepts and watching lots of films. The best thing is experience. You can learn by your own mistakes. I never attended any kind of school or institute, but I was acting in Delhi live theaters. Doing that I gained acting skills.
MMM: Have you been influenced by other movies and moviemakers?
Akhilesh: Lots of films influenced and inspired me, like “The Godfather,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Black Swan, “and “Inception.” My favorite filmmakers include James Cameron, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese. But there are a lot more.
MMM: Did you rely on particular apps in making “Unknown”?
Akhilesh: Before becoming a filmmaker, I worked as a game designer in a startup, and I learned lots of software programs. For the making of “Unknown,” I used Adobe After Effects, Windows Movie Maker, and FL Studio for music.
MMM: Tell us something about the car sequence at the opening.
Akhilesh: Alex is playing NFS video game and saves NFS as an unknown profile. Then the movie’s title appears. It’s simply edited from the NFS game.
MMM: Did you encounter any major problems in making your movie?
Akhilesh: It was very tough to handle all things. I mean preproduction, production, and post production. But it’s OK, I love those jobs, that’s why I am here. I got an amazing experience. You can do anything if you devote yourself to it.
MMM: What about the soundtrack?
Akhilesh: The starting and ending credit song was picked from the Internet. Everything else was composed by me in FL Studio as required by the action.
MMM: What’s your next project going to be?
Akhilesh: It’s a short film titled “Shadow.” I’m also planning a documentary about the Dashera festival in Daranagar, a village in Utter Pradesh, India.