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Microschool India does Shakespeare

  • Bornila Chatterjee

Indian Writer/Director Bornila Chatterjee talks 'Titus Andronicus'

July 2015 | London

British Council is excited to be supporting Film London’s latest Microschool which has just taken place, bringing 16 Asian filmmakers from the UK and India together in London for a week, to work on feature film ideas - all drawing from the work of Shakespeare.

Microwave International: Shakespeare India is an brilliant new project which forms part of Shakespeare Lives, our major programme of events and activities that will celebrate Shakespeare’s work throughout 2016 on the 400th anniversary of his death.

Here are some reflections on the workshop from key participants:

Deborah Sathe, Head of Production, Film London

My team and I were delivering a Microschool in Georgia with the British Council when the idea to work with India came about. Independent film suffers the same challenges here and there, but with The Lunchbox setting the world alight, it felt now was the right time to join forces with India, train the most promising talent together and see whether forming international feature film teams would help serve two domestic markets. Two years later, and with the help of William Shakespeare, I find myself on day four of Microwave International: Shakespeare India. We have 16 exceptional filmmakers here working on six contemporary Shakespeare stories, world class mentors and speakers, and lots of coffee. At the end of this week the projects will take all their learning away and resubmit their projects for pitching. Just one of these will be greenlit into production with our partners Cinestaan and Bob & Co, and the ensuing feature film will take part in the big Shakespeare celebrations in 2016.

To get to this point has taken an unbelievable amount of work, as is so often the case when delivering something new. However, looking at these incredible storytellers and the 'arranged marriages' they have formed with their UK/Indian counterparts, I am beyond delighted with the results!

Andrea Calderwood, producer mentor (films include The Last King of Scotland and A Most Wanted Man)

Love, passion, murder, betrayal, revenge – it’s all going on at Microschool India this week. What’s special about the Microschool project is that it’s not simply a theoretical training exercise – out of the six projects, the funding is already available to make one of the films, with the possibility that others might be helped to finance their films too. This very real prospect of production sharpens everyone’s minds. An intense timescale of one week of workshops leading to the final pitch in six weeks' time means the entire development process is accelerated, and it’s inspiring to see the huge development leaps - which would normally take months of agonizing and debate - which can be made with total focus in 24 hours.

The combination of Shakespeare dealing with the fundamentals of human emotion, and the mentoring process dealing with the fundamentals of filmmaking in a single week, leads to a no-holds-barred atmosphere, which should produce some explosive and attention-grabbing films.

Bornila Chatterjee, Indian writer/director for The Crorepatis (based on Titus Andronicus)

This is storytelling bootcamp. The days are packed and the mentors are relentless. They ask us the difficult questions we want to avoid, they do not provide all the answers and they challenge us to think hard about the essence, the core - the actual story we want to tell. Tough? Sure. Which is why these first two days have been way better than film school ever was, and more insightful that any screenwriting class I've ever taken!

Sharmila Chauhan, UK writer for The Heart of the City (based on The Taming of the Shrew)

Some might say being almost 38 weeks pregnant and then having an arranged marriage may be the wrong way of doing things. So far this week I’ve been introduced and married to the intelligent and artistically-sensitive Pratyusha Gupta (director) and the inspiring, warm Ameenah Allen (producer) as part of what I hope will be a long-term commitment...

And who says assisted introductions don’t work? Having faith in the process and your partners is something integral to the creative experience - and the Microschool has definitely accelerated that process. My wives and I have had an intense week:  a full on holistic look of film from script to editing, together with one-to-ones with mentors and many a late night working on the script.

There has been an outpouring of ideas and many seeds have been uprooted and then replanted in new ground. But now this ground has been fertilised by all three of us. I’m excited to see how our film will grow. And I’m glad that she now has three mothers, watching to see what she will become.


In 6 weeks' time the teams will be pitching their projects in front of the funders, and one lucky team will get the green light to go into production on their feature film. Come back in September to find out who!

You can read more about the project  here.

And you'll be able to hear more about our plans to take Shakespeare on an unprecedented global tour on film, in music, art, theatre and more PLUS find out about several major chances to take part yourself - when we announce our Shakespeare Lives programe this Autumn.