“Wood-Chuck” directed by Balaji Ragupathi, is an official selection at the 7th Edition of the 2018 International Filmmaker Festival of New York, representing India. The short, directed and produced by Balaji Ragupathi, written by Balaji R, Vasanthakumar M., stars Sibbi Maruthu and Faniveer. The screening will take place at 4:00PM Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at Kaufman Astoria Studios (34-12 36th St, Astoria, NY 11106).
Meet the Artist: NY Elite with Director Balaji Ragupathi
NY Elite: Tell us a little bit about you.
Balaji Ragupathi: I work full time and short film making is my way to unwind myself during weekends as well as to satisfy creative need for my brain. I work in technology related area and so it is hard for some of my friends to digest the fact that I have interest in short films! After many trial and errors, this is my second short film. I felt satisfied after editing/re-editing the film and thought about submitting to a film festival.
I am very happy that IFFNY is providing a platform for film makers to show case their creativity. I am more interested in making short films / documentaries that are close to reality and literature.
NY Elite: Congratulations on being an official selection at the prestigious International Filmmaker Festival of New York. What are your thoughts about being accepted at IFFNY 2018 film festival and having your film screen in New York City?
Balaji Ragupathi: Thank you very much! I don’t know how to express my feeling as this is only my second short film and first official selection! How to describe the emotion when a kid gets his first toy (or) when a young boy/girl fall in love for first time (or) when a family is blessed with first baby?! I feel the same way!!!
NY Elite: Out of the 500 submissions world-wide, your film was selected as the top 40 for IFFNY. What does this mean for you in terms of representing your country/city at this international film festival?
Balaji Ragupathi: I feel very proud that I took this short film in my mother tongue (Tamil) representing my state, Tamil Nadu, India. I am grateful to IFFNY for providing a platform to represent my state at this time.
NY Elite: With what project are you partaking at IFFNY 2018? What is it about?
Balaji Ragupathi: The short film (“Wood-Chuck” – metaphor for lonely groundhog) that I submitted to IFFNY is about a solitary person who tries to find a friend and see whether he is successful in his effort.
NY Elite: Who else is involved in the making of this project? Tell us a little bit more about the story and who is in it.
Balaji Ragupathi: We are very small team. Sibbi Maruthu, who played main character, is actually director of photography for my first short film and his interest is mainly in handling camera. I thought he would be good fit for the main character and asked him to play this character. He immediately accepted without asking a question. I should thank him for that. Faniveer, who played supporting character, was a main character in my first short film. He also did not hesitate that this is only a small character and I should thank him too. I collaborated with my childhood friend M. Vasanthakumar in screenplay and it was a great experience.
In this short film, I did not want to cast an antagonist because no character had any bad intention in this short film. It just shows a solitary person and captures one small moment in his life when he tries to make a friendship and what happens in that effort.
NY Elite: What message do you want to convey with this project?
Balaji Ragupathi: I didn’t intend to convey a specific message through this project. The intention was to capture one small moment in a solitary person’s life and leave a space for open interpretation.
NY Elite: The Red Carpet Opening Ceremony and the Awards Gala will take place at the renowned Kaufman Astoria Studios of New York. Do you plan to attend the IFFNY Festival taking place on May 25-29, 2018? What do you want the audience at IFFNY to take away from this film?
Balaji Ragupathi: I will make every possible effort to attend the festival as this is a unique opportunity for me. If the audience can empathize with main character rather than seeing him as a bad one, I can consider that this film achieved its objective.
NY Elite: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
Balaji Ragupathi: I aspire to make short films close to reality and literature. Since film making is a creative exercise and everyone has their own set of creativity, my thought is we can’t put a boundary that one is a good quality film and others is not. But, if a film can be watched or seems relevant even after 20 or 30 years, then definitely we can say that the film is of great quality.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite films/projects you have been involved in?
Balaji Ragupathi: I am trying to write two screenplays, one is inspired by a story in Tamil Literature and other by real life events around me. I think it will take another year to complete my next project.
NY Elite: What are your career highlights and achievements thus far?
Balaji Ragupathi: This is my second short film and I think I have ocean in front of me to cross. So, I haven’t achieved anything so far.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
Balaji Ragupathi: I think film making is the one of areas (or only area?!) where all other creative arts can be applied. So making short film itself is a process of expressing creatively in lot of different ways!
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking?
Balaji Ragupathi: Please consider filmmaking as an academic area and analyze films as an academic subject. This will help in lot of ways.
NY Elite: What’s next for you?
Balaji Ragupathi: Complete screenplays for two stories that I am working on now!