Backpack across the world

‘Too many cooks spoil the broth’. This age-old adage has definitely been proven wrong by these 25 filmmakers who have come together to make the film, The Owner. The filmmakers hail from 13 countries and have shot their segments independently in cities of their respective countries. Continuous discussions and feedback on the segments for two years led to the successful completion of this film, which will premier across the globe this Friday.

A still from Varun Mathur’s segment. Pic courtesy / Hajra Ahmad

United, we direct
The Owner is the story about a backpack that travels across the world and in the process, connects one segment made by a certain director with another. The film is part of the CollabFeature Project, which was started by Detroit-based filmmakers Marty Shea and Ian Bonner. Shea and Bonner got in touch with filmmakers across the world to become part of the project and five Indian filmmakers soon joined the group. “They had advertised inviting filmmakers on a website and I felt I wanted to be part of it,” says Neha Raheja Thakker, a Mumbai-based director. “I first shot my segment in February 2010.

Still from director Prashant Sehgal’s segment

I had to re-shoot a little earlier this year. We interacted continuously and received feedback for our segments,” she says adding, “Initially, there was no way to predict how the end-product will look. Each director has a different style and those differences can be seen in the film. It is not uniform visually but there is a single story and the story keeps you going.” Shedding light about her segment, she says that it is about a bullock cart driver and how the backpack comes to mean different things to him.

The 25 segments, which vary from two to four minutes, have been shot in different locations, with different actors and the only connecting element is the backpack. Revealing a bit about the story, Delhi-based director Prashant Sehgal says, “The story revolves around a guy who is presumed to be dead. It is about the daughter’s search for the man through the backpack.” Sehgal came to be part of the project at a much later stage. “I was helping other directors with their segments. When we were putting the segments together, there was a gap of continuity between the Mumbai and the Delhi segment. So Shea and Bonner asked me to shoot a segment that connects the two. That’s how I came to be part of the project,” he reveals. “Apart from the story, the background tracks ensure a sense of continuity. The great part was it was a very democratic process and we would continuously be giving feedback on each other’s segments,” he adds.

Still from director Neha Raheja Thakker’s segment

“It has been an incredible process, like 25 people cooking a meal,” says Delhi-based director Varun Mathur, who has been making documentaries and short films for 12 years. “A collaborative effort on such a large scale has never been attempted before. I guess we might make it to the Guinness Book of World Records,” adds Thakker.

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