Published: 27th February 2019
Hyderabad writer cum film producer Pradeep Katasani talks about his new book and his love for independent films
The story is of an Indian immigrant Kishore and how his life spirals out of control after he steals a bag of what he assumes to be 'petty cash'.
Thrillers, as a genre, have always been fascinating. Whether it's movies or books. We came across one such book recently, titled Silk Road, a crime thriller to be more exact. This is a work of four writers, Eliana Carmona, Alex Gamburg, Varun Bhuchar and Pradeep Katasani. While the plot line definitely is thrilling, when one of the authors, 31-year-old Pradeep Karasani, tells us that he is working on various independent films as a Producer and Post-Production Supervisor in Los Angeles, we are intrigued. We ask him a few questions about the book and his work. Excerpts:
Pradeep loves thrillers and believes that they, “evoke a truly visceral reaction from the audience that is not really possible with other genres”
How did you develop an interest in movies?
I grew up in Hyderabad. Like every other Telugu person, going to the movies was my favourite pastime as a child, but it was only during my engineering days that I understood the beauty of cinema. I did my engineering from IIIT Hyderabad. Thanks to the countless cinephiles on my campus, I was exposed to the best films from around the world. This completely changed my life and propelled me onto a different path. Later, I pursued my Master's in Television and Film from the US.
First glimpse: The cover of their book Silk Road | (Pic: Pradeep Katasani)
We love how both the protagonists Kishore and Durga are from Hyderabad. What bits of the characters (or even the story perhaps) are drawn from your own personality (or your life)?
Having come to the US as a master's student, I do relate a lot to Kishore’s character. I weaved in a lot of my own personal experiences in the scenes involving Kishore and his roommates.
Working on Durga’s character was a bit more challenging. Telugu Immigrants are not only one of the fastest growing groups, but also one of the most successful ethnic group in America. We are quickly spreading our wings in every aspect of the American life including business, politics and law enforcement. Thankfully, this lets writers like me explore bold possibilities within the realm of believability. Asha Rangappa is an amazing FBI agent of Indian origin, we have taken some inspiration from her life while developing Durga Rao's character. I think Telugu readers, especially female readers, will find Durga’s character very refreshing. America is often called the land of opportunity, so I wanted to put a twist on this and explore a character whose fatal error is one of blind opportunism. We also touch upon themes like the deep web, bitcoins and corruption.
How was your experience working as a post-production supervisor for The Black Prince?
Working on The Black Prince was both an amazing and humbling experience at the same time. It took a lot of careful planning and coordination among multiple teams spread around the world. So, it was quite intense. I should thank both Kavi Raz (Director) and Jasjeet Singh (Producer) for trusting in me and supporting me throughout the process.
Behind the scenes: Pradeep carrying out his duty as a Post-Production Supervisor | (Pic: Pradeep Katasani)
Can you tell us a little bit about your work on the film?
A Post-Production Supervisor oversees all aspects of the post-production process. The role varies a lot based on the budget and type of production itself. For a movie that involves a lot of VFX and CGI shots, the job of the Post-Production Supervisor starts during the pre-production itself. The main job of the role is to maintain clarity of information and a clear chain of communication between the director, producer, editor, supervising sound editor and all other post facilities (like film labs, colour and more). With millions of dollars at stake, it’s not enough to deliver a film that looks and sounds good, it is quite important to achieve it on time and within budget.
Some days, my job involves talking to an entertainment attorney to draft a specific contract for the singer. Other days, I am directly working with the sound designer to make sure we are using the correct sounds for the time period, coordinating with the VFX studio to prioritise certain shots so they could be used in the trailer, and sometimes, I am just sitting in the studio researching the correct funeral prayers that were sung in 1870s. When it came to The Black Prince, I was immensely lucky to have Jasjeet as the Producer, because he is a historian himself and has extensive knowledge of even minute aspects such as the type of fabric that was used in that time period.
What would you suggest to students who are looking to work behind the camera as post-production supervisors?
For anyone who can afford it, I would always suggest that they go to a film school and learn the craft formally. But there are tons of resources available online as well. There are no prerequisites per se, but you need to have a thorough knowledge and expertise on the latest tools and technology being used. Hands-on experience goes a long way. It requires an almost nerdy obsession so unless you are really passionate about it, it's not something you will enjoy.
Immigrants are a fascinating bunch of people because they all share a common streak of seeking the unknown, they have all taken the leap to travel thousands of miles to start a new life in unfamiliar territory. As a country built by immigrants, the book is a quintessentially American story
Pradeep Katasani, Post-Production Supervisor | (Pic: Pradeep Katasani)
From a post-production supervisor and now your first novel, what's next for you?
I have a slew of projects already in the pipeline, so I am looking forward to completing them. I want to be part of movies that are both personally meaningful and culturally impactful. I hope I get to tell more exciting Indian Americans stories in the future.
Some tips for aspiring post-production supervisors from Pradeep
- On a critical project with multiple variables, it is quite essential to be able to anticipate potential problems and tackle them before they even materialise.
- When working with A-list talent who are busy with multiple big-budget projects, there are no second chances. Sometimes, they are only available for a couple of hours, and if you miss that window, they might not be available for another two months, which will cause delays
- You really have to be obsessed with planning things to the minutest detail so that the director can focus on the creative side of the project and not worry about the logistics