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BIFFes: Focus on AI in filmmaking, screenwriting

A panel discussion on the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on filmmaking and screenwriting and an interesting masterclass on editing by Kai Eiermann were the highlights of the day.
Last Updated 02 March 2024, 22:24 IST

Bengaluru: Security arrangements at Orion Mall, the main venue of the 15th Bengaluru International Film Festival, were stepped up on Saturday, following a blast at Rameshwaram Cafe in the city on Friday.

Several cinephiles were seen queued up to watch Mrinal Sen's Kharij (1982). Tomorrow is a Long Time,  a Singapore-Taiwan co-production film directed by Jow Zhi Wei, left the audience impressed. 

The screening of actor Darshan's critically acclaimed Kannada blockbuster Kaatera saw a 70 per cent attendance of movie buffs. The film still runs in theatres across the city.

Shishir Rajmohan's Kannada film Abracadabra, featuring Anant Nag, was premiered at the festival to a houseful audience. 

'Impact of AI on filmmaking'

A panel discussion on the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on filmmaking and screenwriting and an interesting masterclass on editing by Kai Eiermann were the highlights of the day.   

Chaitanya Hegde of Tulsea, a company which represents writers and Sanath P C, a visual effects supervisor, participated in the panel discussion moderated by Anand Varadaraj, founder and artistic director of Bengaluru International Short Film Festival (BISFF). 

Anand showcased a pizza advertisement made about eight months ago using AI completely -- actors, script, dialogues and music. Other AI-generated videos made by Sora were also presented. These videos were an output of single-line inputs. Sora is capable of creating wildlife, astronauts and anything under the sun. It was mind-boggling to know they were not real.  

Chaitanya felt that AI could be an ally if used well. "We have many screenwriting institutes in India. But they are not accessible to all. This is where AI comes into the picture," he said.

He remarked that AI may help writers grasp writing skills by looking at the generated text. Further, when an established writer, one day, wakes up with writer's block, he can use AI to come out of it, he said. 

Sanath, elaborating on the evolution of technology in cinema, said, "Visual effects (VFX) helps film narrative and frames look more evolved. Technology keeps evolving. And now, there's a new technology here." However, Chaitanya felt that AI could not yet bring in a nuanced script. "When a writer writes, he writes from his experiences and his exposure to the world," he said.

The participants were introduced to a new technology called 'Large language module'. Taking the Kannada language as an example, Anand said that this technology could read all the existing Kannada novels, books and texts. One can simply insert a one-liner and expect a full novel in the writing styles of their favourite authors, he said. 

A true sync video, which scanned the face of the person on the camera and generated a lip-synced dub in different languages, surprised the audience. 

Date with directors 

At a press conference organised for filmmakers, Madeleine Blackwell, the director of the Australian film Damage said, "I feel hopeful looking at the experience of cinema here (in India), unlike Australia which is threatened by the streaming services." 

German film editor Kai Eiermann holds a masterclass.

German film editor Kai Eiermann holds a masterclass.

Sujay Sunil Dahake, who was with the black and white film 'Shyamchi Aai', when asked why he chose to make the film in black and white said, "Black and white films create a nostalgia - especially for a narrative set in an earlier time."

"We have 35 different communities in Manipur. But what is happening in Manipur now started after my film came. But the issue has been boiling for a long time. So, I wanted to address the issue," said Haobam Paban Kumar who is here to present his Manipuri film 'Joseph's Son'.

Prasanna Vithanage, the director of the Sri Lankan film 'Paradise', said, "When Sri Lanka was declared bankrupt, the entire country was affected. A few Indians who came to Sri Lanka were affected too and that's what led me to this film. In crisis, we can see how humans behave."

Speaking about the Sri Lankan film industry, he said the situation is still the same but the industry produces around 20-25 films. "Because of high tariffs, we see a very low number of people coming to theatres," he said. 

On subsidy, Dahake said, "We are denying subsidy because it's corrupting the industry. Filmmakers make films with a budget of Rs 15 lakh and claim a Rs 40 lakh subsidy. Instead, we are asking them to choose around four films and produce them," he said. 

He went on to say that the Maharashtra government has announced a Rs 1 crore subsidy for films made on revolutionary leaders and freedom fighters. "So, I made a film on a freedom fighter. But when I went to claim my subsidy, I received a funny response - we're still figuring out which is important," he said.

He explained how the Marathi film industry has to continuously compete with Bollywood. "So, Marathi films have become the least priority for a Maharashtrian," he rued. 

Editing masterclass

The editing masterclass by German editor Kai Eiermann witnessed a packed hall. The editor, known for the film 'The Ordinaries', showed the audience the rough cut and the final cut of the film and explained the technicalities.   

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(Published 02 March 2024, 22:24 IST)

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