We spoke to Ankur Kapoor Director of "The Passing" who mixes scifi with a certain absurdity, and is a voice we find truly unique. Here he spoke about his love for films, his unique influences and how he turned around a Nasa Challenge to make a unique film of his own.
Hello Ankur! Where did you grow up? What attracted you to film-making?
Hi. Thanks for making ShortFilmWindow the new home for my short film 'The Passing'. I love your platform and it's home to another short film of mine - 'Pen Chor'.
I grew up mostly in small villages and towns of Himachal with a strong connection to Chandigarh throughout my childhood and teens as my grandparents and extended family lived there.
One of my earlier memories of being obsessed with films and sci-fi was when I was in 6th standard and my parents had cut my cable because of some exams. After some fiddling, I figured out that if I hook the doordarshan antenna cable to the window grill at a specific spot, I can receive one cable channel clearly - the cable guy's local channel where he used to play fresh pirated films. That's how I watched Independence Day and thought it was the coolest film ever.
A few years later, I won a local diwali lottery and received a black & white TV as reward. I used to stay up all night watching films on Star Movies, AXN, TNT. I guess my love for cinema developed during this time.
You have made formally very interesting content - what were your thoughts when you started working on The Passing. What were the challenges.
It was 2017 and I just saw this internet promo for a contest by NASA, where they want us to use actual NASA footage and make a 10 minute short using it. I started looking at some of the footage available on various NASA libraries and the Cassini mission footage (most of the Saturn footage) really caught my eye. It was very cinematic. I began with the thought of replacing the satellite/probe in that footage with something that I can introduce into my story. I played lots of classical music and kept watching the footage and somehow the first draft just wrote itself overnight.
The challenge was then to bring more coherence to the writing and try and structure words with available visuals, and to produce some original footage and 3D animation that matches the quality of NASA/stock footage.
How did you go about managing/procuring the archival footage that makes your short so lively.
I spent many nights going through every NASA clip available on their every library. One of the best discoveries was a NASA Gangnam Style remix called NASA Johnson Style. Adding that footage to the film changed everything as it introduced some much needed humour.
Additionally, some stock footage was sourced from VideoHive, Shutterstock and also Vimeo where some clips had attribution licenses available at the time.
What 3 advice will you give to aspiring filmmakers in this industry?
Get used to disappointment, being broke and feeling like shit most of the time and still not give up.
Who are your influences as filmmakers?
I'm fascinated by people who make absurd independent films - Quentin Dupieux (Mr. Oizo) is my favourite. Among documentarians, nothing comes close to how Asif Kapadia structures archives to weave stories.
But then, I've grown up on an overdose of Hollywood sci-fi which I still love going to the cinemas for.
We love your work and above all your enthusiasm! What are you working on next?
I'm in early development stages of a new project so I can't say much right now but it's going to be another documentary-ish project about a violent stray dog rebellion that happened in a small town of Goa during the 2020 lock down.
You can watch all his films here: https://www.shortfilmwindow.com/director/ankur-kapoor/