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48 Hour Film Project – Contestant Kush Amerasinghe Q&A: PART II

In this follow up to Part 1 of our Q&A with Kush Amerasinghe and his film for the 48 Hour Film Project, we’re delving a bit further into Kush’s creative background and inspiration for The Bandit:

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Creative Layer: What was your inspiration for the film?

Kush Amerasinghe: To give you a better idea, this competition is not only about making a short movie in just two days, but also being able to adapt to anything.  So, you can’t really go into it with a certain story or even a kind of movie in mind.  The genre is randomly given to each team – there’s a specific character, specific line of dialog, as well as a specific prop all teams need to include in the movie.  My team got “Western,” which is probably one of the genres I was least prepared for and the hardest to do in the traditional sense in the middle of the city.

We thought we’d go with a more modern, almost futuristic, story where we still have some of the classic elements of a western movie, but with a modern twist.  So I thought of what a progressive “sheriff” and the “bad guy” would be like.  We went with a strong female character as the sheriff who flies in a helicopter instead of riding a horse. She’s after a bandit who is more like Hannibal Lector sort of dangerous; smart yet a little insane criminal instead of the stereotypical western bandit.rt movie in just two days, but also being able to adapt to anything.  So, you can’t really go into it with a certain story or even a kind of movie in mind.  The genre is randomly given to each team – there’s a specific character, specific line of dialog, as well as a specific prop all teams need to include in the movie.  My team got “Western,” which is probably one of the genres I was least prepared for and the hardest to do in the traditional sense in the middle of the city.

The story itself is quite open-ended and open to many interpretations.  It’s also a bit like the TV series “Lost” that pose more questions than spoon-feeding a straightforward storyline to the audience.

Take us through your creative process for this project. How did you execute?

The moment we got the genre I was immediately thinking about an alternative way to interpret it instead of attempting to create a more traditional western film.  As I walked home from the kick-off event, I tried envisioning what it would be like if the modern day, or slightly in the future, city of San Francisco would be in a situation where the usual bad guy comes into town and disrupts the normalcy as the sheriff comes in to save the day.  I also had to work around the things we had rather than imagining a story first, then thinking about how to do it.  I knew the list of actors we could tap into and had to somehow make it work around them. I also had access to a green screen studio and a reasonably good camera. The thing I was least worried about was the software part of it for the post-production – despite my approach being post heavy.  So we tried to make it work around all those while trying to make it stand out as much as possible from the rest of the entries.

In your experience, what are the pros and cons of being a creative person?

For me, the biggest plus about being a creative person is the fact that I can do things I actually like and turn it into a job, rather than having to do the chores to earn some money then spend it on enjoyable things.  If you can find that sweet spot that’s great, but I think I was lucky to eventually end up in a situation like that.  I know a lot of creatives struggle to find that balance because it’s not easy to be a pure artist unless you are both good at it and lucky.  The main drawback in my opinion is that you need to learn how to be a creative who can apply it for real world situations and adapt to various opportunities and challenges life throws at you.  It’s not easy to find that delicate balance without completely selling your soul to becoming a craftsman following other people’s vision instead of being an artist in your own right.

Have you always been compelled to create?  Was the instinct there from a young age or did this happen later in life?

One of the earliest memories I have of being on the spotlight was when I was a 5-year old kid who got disqualified from an art competition at school because the teacher thought I cheated and got an adult draw my entry for me.  Apparently it was too realistic and detailed to be a 5 year olds drawing.  Also, as a kid I always destroyed my toys to find out how they work and to construct new things out of the pieces instead of just using the toy in its intended purpose.  So I guess I had the urge to create right from the beginning, but I do believe talent is something that one could cultivate because I learned completely unrelated skills later in life that I never imagined I’d be into when I was growing up.

 Who are your “creative heroes” or role models?

I certainly admire multi-disciplinary pioneers like Leonardo Da Vinci or anybody who made a mark.  But personally, I like to give a lot of credit to my dad for answering my questions carefully and teaching whatever he knew at the time.  I remember the first time I grasped the concept of perspective and 3D composition, simply because a drawing I showed him at the time didn’t have it right.  I don’t think he even understands what I do with complex 3D modeling software now, but if it weren’t for that initial guidance, I’d probably be a lot behind.  Later in life I had more influencers like my art teacher in Italy or even people who had nothing to do with art like my physics teacher who simply influenced the way I think, which in the end probably makes up a large part of a creative person’s abilities.

Any other comments or experiences you’d like to share?

In general, I think the times are changing so fast that I feel like I’m actually older than I really am because it’s so different for somebody to go through the hurdles to become creative now.  It’s actually a lot easier and the opportunities and the possibilities are numerous, so there’s no excuse really.  If you are reading this, you are probably interested in being creative and you should make use of whatever chances you get to keep building it up.  The more you do things, the better you’ll get and the more mistakes you make the braver you’d get for the next time around.

Never be discouraged by where you are or who you are.  I was just a poor kid in the middle of nowhere in Sri Lanka who went on to eventually play with the latest cutting-edge industry standard technologies, even before it comes out into the hands of paying customers.  At least for me, there was no shortcut.  It’s been a lot of baby steps but the important thing is you keep moving forward.

Thanks to my small team of brave cast and crew who volunteered to take on this challenge with me and they were all great to work with.  I also like to give a tip of my hat to all the other competitors who managed to pull out the feat of coming up with a short movie in 48 hours because I know how challenging it is. Maybe those who haven’t tried the Creative Cloud should give it a spin and see how it could give them an edge next year!

If you didn’t catch it the first time, here’s Kush and his team’s final product of their submission to The 48 Hour Film Project titled, The Bandit:

 

The Bandit – 48 hour film project 2012 – San Francisco (full version) from Kush Amerasinghe on Vimeo.