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'The Last Chance' director Ursula Manvatkar talks about horror-genre, OTT and more

Dubai based filmmaker Ursula Manvatkar is all set to mark her directorial debut with the upcoming psycho-horror film, The Last Chance.

The Last Chance director Ursula Manvatkar talks about horror-genre, OTT and more RCB
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Bangalore, First Published Nov 14, 2021, 3:24 PM IST
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Cinema has witnessed a massive growth in terms of the script, concept and characterisation with a lot of young filmmakers coming up with an ever-broader spectrum of work on a global scale. Moreover, the phenomenon has benefitted from a much higher participation of new actors and writers over the past few years.

Having worked as a writer-producer, Ursula Manvatkar always saw filmmaking as a complex art, but her perspective changed once she wore the director's hat for ‘The Last Chance’.  She’s all set to mark her directorial debut with the upcoming psycho-horror film.

Here's a recent conversation with the Dubai based filmmaker on films, OTT & much more:

How do you find cinema evolving as a medium in today's time?
I think cinema has always been a very strong medium to influence people and has had a great impact on people's lives for decades. However, the pandemic led to a huge boost of online media and OTT platforms for film distribution. The trend has now moved on more to the web series model, which gives a cinema feel to a TV series. The film distribution now has seen an evolution in the way and despite the fact that cinema houses have opened up slowly, it will be hard to come to the level of pre-pandemic capacities soon.

‘The Last Chance’ is about to be released soon. What was your initial approach for the film?
When I started filming, I was purely looking at sending it to film festivals for distribution. However, once our trailer was released, we received very positive reviews which gave me confidence to approach OTT platforms as well. Currently, we stand at 7 awards and 15 nominations out of 35 official selections and 3 OTT platform offers for distribution. 

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How challenging was visualising the script?
Most of my previous projects were made as part of a 48 hour film competition where we had very little time to come up with a script. So, I was used to this way of working, and hence did not understand the importance of focusing on the script so much before we started filming. I wrote a rough draft of the screenplay within an hour on the first day of the shoot. As we progressed shooting, I kept adding and making it better. Due to this we ended up filming over a year - with many scenes being reshot to accommodate changes. 

What's your view on horror as a genre? Do you find it more challenging than other genres?
Horror, especially psycho-horror, is my favorite genre. I have always had an interest in learning about the occult and dark forces as someone who has grown up watching horror films. I love to explore different sub-genres under this theme. Personally, I find it easier than other genres. I do not find it very challenging to accomplish as we have a limited range of emotions to work around such as fear, disgust, excitement and the like.

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It is one of the most untouched genres globally. Why do you think it is like that?
I would not say untouched genre, rather it falls in the middle position, trailing behind action, romance, and thriller genres. However, because of the emotions explored in films within this genre, not everyone can watch them without having a negative impact on their mental health. So, most horror films are rated 18+ and people suffering from certain conditions are asked not to watch them. It brings down the market volume of viewers much lower as compared to other more popular genres. 

Does an experienced actor make a better director?
Not necessarily.. I think the direction is about owning the entire creative project from start to finish. Acting is about owning the character and working on bringing the director's vision alive. There’re very few actors who have succeeded as directors and vice versa.

How do you stay motivated?
Staying motivated is the only thing that makes me progress in my life. A huge part of this is my unique ability to see through opportunities, people and situations in a way that is not black or white. This makes me less judgmental and very hopeful, patient and positive - all of these leads to slow and steady progress. I love to see my idea come to life and just the idea of seeing the outcome of my thought process is the best motivation I can ever have.

By JAIDEEP PANDEY

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