Monday, June 27, 2011

Interview Govind Chandran

Govind, known as 'Guv', is a Malaysian film director/producer with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Film Studies from Oxford Brookes University. In the last few years he has worked predominantly on short films which have been featured in film festivals across the world. For the last year he has worked as the Technical Specialist in Film Studies at Brookes, and this July is producing and co-directing his feature film debut, The Mask of Sanity.

What is the current project you are working on?

I am currently working on my debut feature film, a psychological thriller called 'The Mask of Sanity'.

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

Nope. Originally was thinking of doing Law, but never quite had the same passion for it as I do for filmmaking. In hindsight I couldn't imagine studying anything but film.

What inspired you to become filmmaker?

Filming little filler bits for plays in highschool. We used to project some film stuff between scene changes to tie things together and I was asked to help film that. It was a lot of fun n I loved that. Then reading a lot about independent filmmaking and watching low budget films put it into the context of 'this is definitely something I can do!'.

What is the best thing about being one?

You genuinely love what you are doing. I think you'll find very few people who aren't passionate about their job if they choose film. For me I just love the whole process from start to finish, and seeing the end result is absolutely amazing.

What is the worst thing about being one?

It is a struggle. Breaking into the industry, or even making enough money to be able to do it full time is a very difficult thing.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

So far I've worked on mostly short films (directed 5 of my own) and corporate videos or online ads.

Who is is your favorite filmmaker?

At the moment I would have to say Chris Nolan and David Fincher. Both I feel are able to make films that are intelligent and thought provoking, and original, yet entertaining.

How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?

I'm still young, and haven't really known professional life outside of filmmaking!

What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?

It's possible, but be realistic and work at it! What is incredibly common is people that want to make it in the movie business, yet aren't seizing every opportunity, and aren't working their asses off to build up a reputation, portfolio, gain experience, learn new skills, etc. At the same time it's not going to be a jump from nothing to blockbuster director overnight, but have a plan and put in the effort and things are achievable.

What do you like to do besides filmmaking?

At the moment, beyond socializing, and the usual relaxing (watching tv, films, music, etc) there hasn't been all that much time for anything else!

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?

No, I studied Film Studies at university and have been making films since then so my whole adult life has been based on this.

What are some of your favorite American films? Foreign films? Television shows?

My taste in films and tv is quite diverse. I do love films by Nolan, Fincher, and am quite into comic-book films, swords and sandals films (Gladiator being the peak of that but even older ones like Ben Hur), but also love Science Fiction (and am definately a Star Wars geek).

How would you describe your film education?

I studied Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University. The course was predominantly theory based (analyzing films, looking at film movements, etc) however there were a few practical modules. I would have to say though that a lot of my filmmaking 'education' came from just doing it - making independent shorts with my course-mates and learning by doing. The theory and practical modules at University provided a good backing, but there was a lot we picked up on the fly.

How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?


How has social media changed the independent film industry?

It's definately made it easier to reach your audience, or at least get some exposure. However, it's also made it a much bigger pond and it's now up to us as filmmakers to distinguish ourselves and our film, which is quite a struggle at times in such a saturated crowd.

What's your opinion on crowdfunding and recent crowdfunding scandals?

I've had two very distinctly different crowdfunding experiences. The first time I tried using it, I received a grand-total of £5 and it was not worth the effort put into promoting it. The second time (which is now for The Mask of Sanity), we have raised (at the time of writing) over $8000. So personally I have not had issues with scandals relating to this but I have found that it does need to be used for the right project, targeted to the right people, and does take a lot of effort to really use well and not just be a simple thing of sending it once to your family and friends and hoping they contribute.

What is the casting process like?

The response (we use internet sites, including and to advertise) has been quite varied depending on the project. For 'The Mask of Sanity' the response was terrific and we had a very wide and varied group to chose from, however I have been on previous projects where you are very limited in your options, and really just need to use who you've got available.

How does independent film differ from the mainstream?

Finance, infrastructure, support, etc. I do think it's quite silly when you get films with millions of dollars in budget, by a studios 'independent' sub-label advertising itself as an indie film. It's quiet a big difference from what I would say is independent films that you see filmmakers putting together and producing themselves that most get screenings at festivals rather than a big theatrical release.

What's your favorite movie quote and why?

I could list about a hundred favorite quotes, can't really narrow it down to just one!

You could have any super power. What would it be?

Prof X. powers from the X-Men would be pretty good to have. You could keep it low key and get by being incredibly amazing at whatever really.

What is your opinion on movie remakes?

Don't remake new films. Don't remake films shot for shot. Don't remake them just because they are in a different language or not from the states. However, if you take a film and 'remake it' by changing it and just taking core ideas from the original, after significant time has passed, then that I'm all for. Look at Oceans Eleven. I think both the original and the Clooney-Pitt version are fun films yet very different so it's not a direct remake, and enough time had passed that many of my generation haven't seen the original.

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

Hit and Miss. Lord of the Rings was fantastic in how the approached it. Loyal to the books yet willing to change to make a good film! And Peter Jackson constantly said this was 'his interpretation' of the books rather than a direct adaptation and that's really the best way to go about it in my opinion.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Follow us on twitter (!/TheMaskOfSanity) and Facebook (





Thanks Govind for doing the interview. Let me know when "Mask Of Sanity" comes out. I'd love to write a review.