Tiny films, huge impact

Tiny films, huge impact

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Tiny films, huge impact

You don't need too many words to express some complex thoughts and ideas, and you don't need too much time to tell a story. You only need to see short films like Khujli, a quirky uncle-aunty take on the erotic romance book Fifty Shades of Grey, or Mamta Tonic, a seemingly harmless woman's story gone macabre, and you will agree.

These are just two of the 22 short films that have emerged over the last three years from the stables of Terribly Tiny Talkies, that is slowly becoming a haven for film-makers who want to tell stories that don't quite fit the mainstream bill. Welcome to the new age of micro-content, tailored to your attention span, time available, and new-age cinematic sensibilities.

A hotbed of talent

The Mumbai-based storytelling collective brings together young and talented film-makers from across the country to craft thematic short films. Each short is under 15 minutes and filmed around either a central keyword or an idea. Till now, the themes have concentrated on red-letter days, be it Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day or Independence Day. 

Some of these films have managed to rope in big names like Anupam Kher, Jackie Shroff and Neena Gupta. Of course, many of the directors are young indie writer-film-makers who have worked with bigger film-makers or have been in the world of advertising, much like Chintan Ruparel, co-founder and CCO of TTT. "We want the next Anurag Kashyap, the next Imtiaz Ali. We discover great talent and give them a platform. They are independent film-makers, those who have made one film, or are ad-film makers," says Chintan.

Terribly Tiny Talkies is part of Terribly Tiny Tales, a rather popular and widespread social storytelling platform, where stories are as short as 140 characters, and the founders felt they should move beyond words and text, into the visual medium. Five of TTT's films — Cuddly, Bapu, Bunny, Mamta Tonic, and Elayichi ­— were nominated in the short film category in the Jio Filmfare Awards 2017. Another film, Life After, was nominated in the Best Individual Performance category at The Webby Awards 2017.  

Released on YouTube, some, like Kheer, have garnered over two million views! "We usually pick people who have talent, but don't have recognition," adds Anuj Gosalia, co-founder and CEO of TTT.

"These film-makers work for about 40 to 60 days on a short — and this includes everything from story, to making the film and post-production. We act as co-creators. We collaborate with people, give them the opportunity to tell the stories they want to. We play the role of creative producers, we do casting, we try to help find music directors — anything they need. We, sometimes, come up with a story and find someone to film it," says Chintan, explaining how they work.

A lot of the film-makers are friends, and their associates, whose work they would have seen or who would have been recommended by like-minded friends. Joining Anuj and Chintan in the core team are Anshuman Ghosh, TTT's CTO, and Sharanya Rajgopal, who is their chief writer and creative producer.

Diverse stories

"We chose stories we thought were interesting and would be perfect for the time frame. We tried to do different kinds of films to understand what our audience wants — like Kheer is family-oriented, Bunny is a thriller, Cuddly is a slice of family drama, Arre Baba is a Marathi film. We try different genres, and we are still trying to figure out what works best with our audience," says Anuj.

"We work on a shoestring budget. We don't make a lot of money as we are a start-up. We work with brands and try to bring earnings back into production. In future, we may upsell our films in Amazon and Netflix," he says of their business model.

Speaking of the space that short films occupy in our everyday fast-paced lives, Chintan says that a film just needs to be a good film. "People do have longer attention spans — they watch three-hour Bollywood films, after all! It really depends then, on the screenplay and the way a film is shot; it's not so much about time. But yes, watching shorts is convenient when you are travelling — whether in a bus, Metro, or cab."

What really works, they both stress, is that these are films that stand for human emotions, stories that move people. 


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