One year, 52 short films: Tanmay Shah’s feat has not only made him a better and sharper filmmaker, but has also proved that passion is the driving force behind filmmaking!
It is often very difficult to find a connection between people’s academic backgrounds and their artistic inclination. Anyone can catch the art bug, and we see trained engineers turning filmmakers, and doctors taking up music.
Holding true to that notion, Tanmay Shah is one such accidental filmmaker.
An Information Technology engineer employed as research associate at the IIT-Bombay, Tanmay took up filmmaking quite spontaneously three years ago.
Today, he holds the record for making 52 short films in one year –releasing one film every Friday as a part of his “52 Films Project.” The project made it into the India Book of Records and the Asia Book of Records, while the Golden Book of World Records awarded Tanmay for directing the most number of short films in a year.
The beginning of it all was as dramatic and spontaneous as any of Tanmay’s films.
“I used to write short imaginative fiction stories and poems just out of passion since childhood. At IIT, one of my colleagues approached me to write a storyline for his game. I wrote the story for him and then he asked me to make the trailer for that game. He introduced me to his cinematographer and while working on it, I realised that this was where my heart was. I know it sounds filmy, but it really was like that! In that moment, I just knew I wanted to be a filmmaker,” recalls Tanmay.
Without waiting for doubt to set in, he started his production house, Friday Fiction Films, with his cinematographer associate. The idea behind the name was simple; since films are released on Friday, hence the name.
Soon, Tanmay was making films in Mumbai on weekends. But it wasn’t how he wanted it to be. With the aim of focusing completely on filmmaking, he left his job and returned home to Ahmedabad.
“I figured in my early days in Mumbai, that it wouldn’t work there. The idea for me was to make films without having to worry about fancy equipment or technology.I had strong stories and I was confident that it was enough. When I returned home, of course, it took a lot of effort to convince my parents, since it was such a spontaneous and sudden decision,” says Tanmay.
To test his own perseverance and potential, Tanmay decided to take up a seemingly impossible project: to release one short film every Friday for an entire year. Starting around mid-2015, Tanmay stuck to his challenge and shot 52 short films in a year. In the beginning, he received a lot of ridicule and flak from people. And when starting out, he had no clue how he’d turn it into a business model. However, as he started, more people came to know of his work and saw potential in his filmmaking.
“Many corporate companies that wanted to make story-based films, started approaching me. It’s true that your work speaks for you,” says Tanmay.
Now a well-known name, Tanmay makes corporate films, documentaries as well as ad films through his firm. However, the creative pursuit never ends and the proof is his recently shot documentary Pinch of Salt that captures the life of the people who make salt in the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
The 13-minute-long film has made rounds of over 12 international film festivals, winning appreciation as well as accolades.
With his 52 Films Project, Tanmay has managed to break many stereotypes and misconceptions about being a filmmaker. Proving the idiom “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” his films have shown us that story is key.
“See, there’s a lot of material out there about filmmaking, tutorials, DIY videos and much more. Many times what happens is that by watching all this, one starts feeling that he knows filmmaking. But I cannot stress this point enough that one only knows by doing. I always strove to get the hands-on experience and I didn’t wait for the golden opportunity or the best equipment. I started with what I had, and today I have everything to make a film,” says Tanmay.
Tanmay is planning to start the second edition of the 52 Films Project soon. He has finished working on the script of the first short film in the series and will soon be taking it off the ground. Aside from that, he is also working on the script of a feature film and is feeling positive about his debut feature. When asked if he would he like to work in Bollywood, he replies with a simple smile and asks, “Who wouldn’t?”
To know more about Tanmay and his work, visit his official website here.