Independent filmmaker Uttam Mukherjee from Sydney started small, making one short film every year for almost a decade. Now, Mukherjee has put together his skills and resources to produce his first-ever full-length film titled Redemption. A thriller about a teenage girl’s escape from her domineering father, and then abductors, and liars, Redemption has been years in the making.
For many storytellers, films can be a fantastic medium to share their stories on-screen. Of course, creating a full-length film, from casting to production to distribution, is never an easy task.
The first short film he made was a mostly silent film at home with little dialogue, featuring a couple of his friends.
“People had a lot of positive feedback, and it inspired me to go on to make a second movie. After that, almost every year, I started making a short film. Eventually,I put them through film festivals, and some did well and won awards,” he told Indian Link.
“The last few years have been challenging, there have been a lot of heartaches, but like a mother, you never give up on your child,” said Mukherjee with a smile. “It’s a psychological crime thriller. I’d say Redemption is for those audiences who enjoy elegant, suspense thriller films, those who like Hitchcock films.”
A self-dubbed ‘outsider’ to the industry, Uttam Mukherjee works a day job in risk management and compliance. However, he found himself oddly suited for the role of a filmmaker, applying skills from his management job in the production process of creating a marketing plan, budget, and shooting schedule.
“I knew my limitations, and that getting resources would be difficult. When I wrote the film, I wrote with the idea of pulling it off without asking for a lot of resources,” he explained.
Slowly but surely, the pieces came together, and his film was completed in 2018 in the span of 19 days of shooting.
Initial challenges included casting of an Indian-looking Aussie actress and an actor capable of a double role, though he eventually found the right fit in Bollywood actress Shezly and British-Australian actor Ben Hamilton as his leads.
His next hurdle was the distribution and release of the film.
“I knocked on many doors, hoping for a theatrical release,” admitted Mukherjee. “Eventually, I was advised to look online. It costs less, plus you use the typical marketing mechanisms of a film release with a larger reach.”
In an odd twist of luck, the recent pandemic has meant that OTT platforms have become the go-to source of many new releases. For independent filmmakers like Mukherjee, they have been the most accessible and affordable way to get films out to the masses.
“Redemption began streaming in around 60 countries,” he told Indian Link proudly. “In fact, I was perplexed to find out that someone from Botswana had watched my movie! That’s the beauty of OTT platforms, you never know whom you’re reaching.”
The 89-minute thriller has received good feedback, including notes on the way Redemption utilised constraints with characters and resources to its advantage.
Mukherjee looks ahead at future full-length film endeavours, although he says there has been a great deal of learning from this experience.
“To other independent filmmakers, I’d advise working to your strengths while understanding and acknowledging your own limitations. You’ve got to plan meticulously and organise yourself to the maximum,” he signed off.