We are all physically trapped these days, aren’t we? Still, there is one thing that perpetually remains free – OUR MIND. Given these trying times, when the lockdown has taken a toll on many and the world is moving at a sluggish pace like never before, creativity has gained a new dimension. People are coming up with fascinating ideas to kill time inside. From learning new skills to rejuvenating an old hobby, the lockdown has become a time to create than consume. It is intriguing to see how master chefs and artists have sprung up in every household as everyone is trying to do something productive and break the shackles of boredom.
Have you ever thought of making a film while staying at home? Well, this might look tough but so does any other work which requires one to be on the go. So, with a firm belief that lockdown is a time to unlock one’s creativity, Carrot Films took to the digital route by launching a one-of-its-kind film festival, the ‘Lockdown Film Festival’ competition. Though we are social filmmakers and are not quite aware of the nitty-gritty of organizing a film festival of this scale, but still, we took up the challenge and made it a success.
Our forte lies in realism – real people, real stories and that is what we wanted to see. We are indeed witnessing history right now. It is important to document this history – capture all the stories told, untold, and events that are taking place around the globe. Our main aim was to provide a platform to the aspiring filmmakers to showcase their Lockdown story. But yes, they had to shoot it within the premises of their home, strictly adhering to the norms of social distancing.
Within a week of the festival’s launch, we received around 1000 registrations. Considering the circumstances, this was unexpected. Next, we had to rope in the jurors for this competition, which was indeed a mammoth task! While one team handled the registration part, the other team handled the jurors and PR. My job was to connect with the celebrities and get them on board as jury members. Capturing human interest stories is usually what we do so working with the celebrities was not our cup of tea. I had to burn the midnight oil looking for contacts and thinking of ways to approach them. We used to have endless discussions over this on con call, segregating the names to be contacted for the jury panel and others for the video messages for the participants to motivate them. I did not even know how to talk to them yet, with occasional bumps and hurdles, things began to fall into place. Eventually, I started enjoying the whole process and understood how they tend to respond. Finally, we brought together an illustrious panel of 12 jury members that included stalwarts from theatre and advertising to mainstream Bollywood and television industry. Our joy knew no bounds when the Hon’ble Minister of Information & Broadcasting, Shri. Prakash Javadekar himself acknowledged this film festival by sending us a congratulatory message. It was a great honour for us having him appreciate our efforts in organizing this film festival as being documentary filmmakers and not event planners or film festival managers, we were doing this sort of work for the very first time.
They say that the best of creative work always emerges out in the toughest of situations and that is what exactly we saw – an extremely overwhelming response from the participants! The entries we received were truly inspiring and it was astounding to see such cinematic marvels crafted by these filmmakers, given the limitations. This even got the judges in a deep dilemma while they were shortlisting the winners (which is evident from the tie between three films for the 2nd position).
Not only I but our whole team evolved through this film festival. From understanding how to communicate with the celebrities to going all out, seeking help from different OTT platforms to showcase the shortlisted films, we learned everything. Being into filmmaking ourselves, we know that every filmmaker wants their film to be seen. So, once the results were announced, we started looking out for various OTT channels to provide a screening platform for the shortlisted films and our search ended with NFDC’s Cinemas of India.
All is well that ends well! I can never forget how this film festival gave me an opportunity of a lifetime – those sleepless nights, endless cups of coffee, work pressure, frustration, incessant phone calls… I will cherish everything. Indeed, the lockdown proved to be a blessing in disguise for us.