Hearing her talk was electrifying. She was honest, decisive, and human like the rest of us struggling filmmakers.
"You get as much as you put into a film" - she said.
I'd never thought of it that way, but it makes total sense. As a filmmaker you have to find a balance between keeping distance from your story and also being passionate about it.
My favourite thing Rama said is that their is "no manual." And THAT'S something they don't teach you in film school. Each story demands a different kind of treatment.
What's her secret? Rama admitted that they way she is able to get so close with her subjects and foster a trusting relationship is by giving half herself. This is the part where she mixes her passion and distance together. She said, "it isn't about money. It's just what I am genuinely interested in doing."
Then she laughed and said to all us filmmakers in the audience, "honestly if you can do something else, do it..."
How does she connect with a story? This part was my favourite. She said, "the story puts a hook in me and pulls me. I want to do this for the audience."
She really emphasizes this back and forth energy that is transferring between her and the subjects and then her and the audience. It was never about "me". It was always WE.
Part of making a successful film is making the themes universal. You have to first ask yourself, is there one specific thing in my story that I can make speak to people?
Finally, the honesty came out. She talked about being a women, being brown, and being a director. Her first look into the film industry was being on Bollywood sets in Mumbai. She said you really have to act like a man to be respected (unfortunately). Coming to Canada, though, afforded her the opportunity to tell the kind of stories she was longing for: those with female protagonists.
"You learn failure."
That is one lesson I will carry with me moving forward in my own career. Thank you again Hot Docs for bringing this inspiring bad ass woman to the theatre for a talk.
If I had known about Patricia, Alethea, Christina, or Rama growing up, I think I would have jumped at being a filmmaker much quicker. Four amazing role models, successful in their own way.
Looking forward to all of their amazing next projects!