The Academy Awards are this Sunday. While you plan your outfit for the big night (Versace, Armani….?), we’ll give you a look at what goes on behind a film to even get it in the running for that coveted golden statue.
We sat down with producer Anadil Hossain, just back from a three month shoot in India where she co-produced Mira Nair’s adaptation of Mohsin Hamid’s book, The Reluctant Fundamentalist. We asked her for the real scoop on what goes on behind the scenes of a film shoot, the gritty and the glam.
ROB: As a producer what do you do?
AH: Everything from the sublime to the ridiculous – from walking the red carpet at Cannes to haggling for cheaper chai for the crew.
ROB: What are some of the movies you’ve worked on?
AH: In Hollywood – “The Darjeeling Limited”, “Fair Game”, “The Namesake”. In Bollywood – “Kal Ho Naa Ho”, “Swades”, “Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna”.
ROB: Your latest movie?
AH: Mira Nair’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”.
RoB: What’s the best part of being on set?
AH: Seeing it all come to life – from page to realization.
RoB: Worst part of being on set?
AH: Parking, catering, arranging travel.
RoB: What kind of hours do you work during a shoot?
AH: The hours are insane. It could be from 4 or 5 am until 2 or 3 am. It really is almost 24/7 while shooting.
RoB: How people can get started?
AH: You can go the traditional route of interning to get onto a movie, but always keep your eyes and ears open. Don’t hold onto preconceived notions of what you think you want to do, do everything for exposure. The key attributes are initiative, resourcefulness and an ability to think laterally.
RoB: How do you explain what you do – when you’re not on set?
AH: It’s not easy because it encompasses so much. It can start with developing a project from script stage or from a finished script. Using the pages as a blueprint, you empower and support the team to create something tangible and physical. Also, different films require different plans, locations, and approaches which means you can feel like you are starting all over again with each film.
RoB: Are you on the business side or creative side?
AH: I’m on both, definitely. I was supposed to go to art school or study literature, but I ended up going to film school. I never thought I’d go into business, but so much of what a producer does is balancing both the creative and business sides of getting a film made. I find all of it to be creative because it’s about bringing something to life out of nothing.
RoB: Who are your film heroes and why?
AH: As opposed to any particular director, I find the people I work with everyday on set the real heroes. It takes everyone coming together to get a film made and the hours and pressure can be overwhelming.
RoB: Your favorite films?
AH: “Stand By Me” – an iconic film of its generation; “Babettes Feast”; and from the current season, “Margin Call.”
RoB: Most fascinating director you’ve met?
AH: Werner Herzog.
RoB: What are you doing this Oscar Sunday night?
AH: That’s easy! I lived out of one suitcase for seven months and I’m just back home to New York. I am going to sit on my couch in my cozy clothes and happily watch the Oscars on TV.
Anadil Hossain is founder of Dillywood, an international film and media company.