Friday 17 February 2012

Interview with George Paul

Last year I met a filmmaker with an unusual story (for an Adelaide resident). He comes from the Republic of India and made all his films while living there. Now he is resident in Adelaide and is looking for opportunities to continue filmmaking here.

In December 2011, we ran one of his short films. It is currently one of the most-visited post on this blog, which suggests the wider community is interested in his story. So I decided to ask him some more questions. 

Thank you for your time, George.

* Your name seems unusual for someone from India.  I am more used to hearing names like Sachin Tendulkar or Ravi Shankar or Aamir Khan.  Tell us something of your family history.

 Eravikulam National Park  in Kerala.
My native place is Keralaa state in the southern part of India with beautiful landscape and sceneries which made this state to be known as "Gods Own Country". Oscar winners Resul Pookutty and A.R.Rahman hail from South India. The main religions in Kerala are Hinduism, Christianity and Muslim. I'm a Catholic Christian. St. Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus Christ came to Kerala and established Christianity there. So most of the Christian names resembles characters in the Holy Bible. For example Paul, Peter, Augustin, Mathew, Abraham, Issac, George, Antony, John, are some of them.  
  I was born and brought up in an ancient Catholic family. Ours is a traditional and God-fearing family. My father, Mr. P.G. Paul is a retired Deputy Manager from State Bank of India. My mother, Annie Paul hails from Angamaly, Kerala. My sister, Indu Jomon, an optometrist, and brother-in-law Jomon Jose, a biomedical engineer, live with their three kids at Geelong (Victoria, Australia).

* You changed schools often during your childhood.  Some children become unsettled by moving around.  Did you gain any advantages from those experiences, or did they hold you back?

My father was a Bank officer. He served the bank for thirty-five years during which period he had to work in more than ten places. This actually helped me in a sense to get a good exposure to different customs and cultures of people in different places. This experience has helped me a lot in developing my artistic talents. Moreover, my father himself was a good actor during his college days. This ancestral talent also might have influenced me. 

* How many languages do you speak?

I can manage well with three different languages
Malayalam, English, Tamil, and a little bit of Hindi.

* Did you watch many films while you were growing up?  Bollywood films? Western films?

During my film making course, we were supposed to watch lots of Satyajit Ray [Indian filmmaker responsible for 37 films, including the world-famous Pather Panchali ] films, Hollywood, and other award-winning films. I have a huge collection of very good films, but haven't watched many of them due to time constraints.

* You have described yourself as a sportsman, but show no interest in cricket.  How is that possible for a boy who grew up in India?

As I have mentioned earlier, India is a country of different religions and languages, there's diversity in the interest of people in sports. People in North India show more interest in Cricket and Hockey whereas the South Indians are keen on Volleyball, Basketball and Football.

* What first attracted you to the idea of becoming a filmmaker?

After completing my degree in Electronics, I was not certain about  what to do next. I thought of becoming a computer programmer but realised that my programming logics were not so good at that time. During this period, one of my friend told me about a 2 1/2 years course in Digital Film Making and Media Technology. I was attracted to do this course. I felt this is one area where I could express my creativity to the outside world. I did a few short films, documentaries and advertisement films as part of studies.

* Many people have commented on your short film, uniformly praising it. It is notoriously difficult to tell a story in 60 seconds, but you managed to do so. What prompted you to make that particular filmWhere did you get the idea?

From the One Minute film
My father is a physically challenged person. But he does almost all the work an ordinary man does. He plays games and in fact he was the runner up in Table Tennis at college level. 
  So when there was a "One Minute Short Film Festival", I thought why can't I come up with the theme"Ignorance of the Ability brings Disability". I got some support from my friends as well.

* The expression “a hot toddy” is commonplace in the UK and Australia (among others), but not many Australians could tell you what "toddy" is.  You made a documentary about toddy production.  How did that come about?

A toddy tapper at work
I come from a village in Kerala called Poovathussery. Most of the people in my village are farmers. Paddy and coconut are the main crops cultivated in this place. A small group of people are engaged in Toddy tapping industry
  I hadn't seen any documentaries based on the processing and marketing of Toddy and hence wanted to make one. 
  I did some research including the Ayurvedic medicinal effect of coconut inflorescence from which the Toddy is extracted. I got some help from my father who has done his Masters in Agriculture.

* What prompted you to move to Australia?

This most beautiful continent on earth was always in my dream. The main positive factor for my selection is good opportunity for better jobs and less interference by political parties.

* Were you married before you moved here, or afterWas yours an arranged marriage?

I got married one month before I moved to Adelaide. Ours is an arranged marriage. People usually wonder how is it possible to have an arranged marriage where you don't get much time to know each other. I don't think that's correct. We get enough time to know each other before marriage. 
  I met Divya through a Christian matrimony website We both had registered in the site. My wife has done her masters degree in Social Work and is currently doing some voluntary work. She sings well and is an active member in our parish activities. We have no kids at present.

* What have you been doing since you’ve been here?

I worked as Graphic/Web-SEO Designer with Trade Admin Services for one year.  I also work for another company called Dancers World as Graphic/Web Designer for the past 3 years. Currently I am working as Production & Design Officer with Open Access College, Marden.

* Have you had any opportunity to utilise your filmmaking-related skills in Adelaide?

Recently I got into the film making industry in Adelaide. I worked with a team in shooting a pilot episode for a TV series (Hamlet Uncut).

* You have a number of computer skills.  Tell us a little about them, and how they help in making films.

I would like to utilize my computer skills at par with film making. I am in the process of starting my own IT company - GodsOwnIT where I plan to offer services in Digital Film Making, Online solutions (website, graphics, interactive presentations, mobile app development etc.), Print Designs, Photography. I have about 6 years experience in working with Adobe software, like Flash, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, AfterEffects, InDesign and other software, like Avid, Final Cut Pro, QuarkXPress, Combustion, etc. 
  One main advantage of knowing video editing software for a film maker is that we can foresee the output while shooting and can plan how to go with each shot and the possibilities of utilizing graphics and special effects.

* In what areas of filmmaking are you hoping to become actively involved during 2012?

I am planning to do some short films soon here in Adelaide. I have got the thread to develop, but haven't got much time to work on it. I need to develop my story in terms of the Australian context. Hopefully by the end of 2012, or early 2013, I will shoot my short film, provided I get some support from my friends who are into this wonderful filmmaking industry in Adelaide. I would also like to thank Mr. Henry who helped me a lot in expanding my network through this useful and informative blog.

My pleasure, and thank you, George.

For those who missed the 60 Second film, here it is again:

1 comment:

Kathy said...

George Paul has amazing drive, I hope he succeeds. I saw the one-minute movie weeks ago and sent links to my kids, it's a great lesson but not preachy at all. Thanks for the detailed interview.