It's been three years since actress Anushka Sharma and brother Karnesh were compelled to turn producers. They took the plunge when their first film, Navdeep Singh's NH10 (2015), was struggling to find financiers. As the name of their company Clean Slate Films suggests, they are motivated by the idea of telling new stories with new story tellers.
Earlier this year, their second production Phillauri (2017) introduced a new director, music composer and new singing voices. Anushka is currently shooting their third production Pari, which again is being made by a first time director.
While the actress has so far fronted all Clean Slate Films, the person running the company is her brother Karnesh. In his pre-movies life, Karnesh worked in the merchant navy.
Here he tells us how his days on the ship was a great training ground for his current role as a producer.
We have 10 people working permanently with us. Hiring the right people is very important because I believe in energies. They should be easy going, simple people. Also the ethics you believe in should be shared with those you hire. In these last three years we haven't had to hire anybody new so I think that's good!
RUNNING A SHIP IS LIKE PRODUCTION
Unfortunately not too much is known about what people do in the merchant navy. There I had a crew of 30 under me – you're allowed budgets and you have to run the ship within that amount. So in that way it's pretty similar to film production. Because of my training managing people was not hard for me, but what is tough is the creative part – to lock on a script and hone it to a better one over a period of time.
Another good thing about the merchant navy is that you watch a lot of films – it's film school at sea. I used to watch a lot of films, not just Indian but world cinema as well.
BE ACCESSIBLE TO NEW TALENT
We wanted to concentrate on stories, rather than projects and promote new talent. For that accessibility is important. A lot of assistant directors who work with Anushka tell her we have stories. You should respond to people's messages, emails, FB messages. Right now it's me and Anushka that read every script. But new people at times are just too eager to make a film but they don't have the best scripts. So over a period of time we will have a set up where we are screening the best stories and ideas and take it forward.
COMPLETE TRANSPARENCY ON SET
I spent two years in Yash Raj Films. I started with work on Jab Tak Hain Jaan. I was the production manager. What you can learn from Yashraj is fairness, and a good work ethic, emphasis on team work, transparency and respect to your colleagues. That is something I've tried to inculcate at Clean Slate Films as well.
I've heard in some places, assistants don't know the script fully. Here everybody has to contribute and at times you don't know who can contribute what. Sometimes an assistant director can contribute to production, but that can only happen when you know what the other department is doing.
KEEP ABREAST OF DEVELOPMENTS IN CINEMA
As a producer you should be aware of new technologies and practices in the world of cinema. If you don't know you will ever know the possibilities. Like VR (virtual reality) is something that is slowly picking up. I'm very clued into what's happening in the world of visual effects. I've subscribed to a lot of expensive portals like American Cinematographer, etc.