Guest post by Reshel Shah Kapoor ‘Black Sheep Documentary’
This one is a bit of a long read! So make sure you have your tea or coffee with a yummy plate filled with biscuits at the go!
I don’t want to go to backwards – this will be my last blog post talking about the past so much, as I want to tell you all where I currently am with Black Sheep, as well introduce you to the lovely ladies I will be documenting.
Where was I last week…that’s right I was all geared up to do a documentary on a man’s journey into becoming a hijra. We spent a month trying to find someone; my Producer’s and even my crew were on it. The problem was we could not find anyone either because they were not ready to go through it or worse did not want to be in front of the camera knowing the world would see it; I totally understood where they were coming from. We started talking to a few guys but in time it felt they were after the fame and it felt more like an act.
At one point I remember speaking to a dear friend about the subject; she’s an amazing script writer – so much talent there. She told me to just act it out, get an actor; an audience does not need to know. I won’t lie I thought about it for 24 hours, naaaah that wasn’t me──I’m about truth and love. Soon I met another friend of mine. He was ready to experience what hijras went through and through a long discussion we came up with a twist. The new one was: a heterosexual man’s journey into becoming a hijra for 30 days.
Once again I was all geared up and so were my crew and the guy we were going to follow. We had made a few contacts in India now and decided in April of this year to go for five days. In total we were a crew of eight on our first visit. The first night we were there my crew kept asking me so how the story was going to flow. I didn’t have a clue and it got me nervous. Here is a tip for all first time Directors: Don’t shy away if you don’t know the answer, there’s nothing wrong with it. The second day was such an important day.
First we were off to pitch to Accord Equips – a camera and light (and all things film) rental house, without a rental ready to support the film, this film was not going to happen on a shoe string budget. My first pitch as a Director, man was I nervous! I remember before we left me and my crew did a small prayer all holding hands, that’s when I knew this meant as much to my crew as it did for me. I don’t know how I did it, but the pitch worked magic and Accord Equips came on board. Tejas the main guy there was just so welcoming and warming to what we were doing. It showed me there was that needle in a haystack.
Next we went to an organization who would let us meet the hijras that are part of their work, but first it was round one with them. I thought well it worked in the morning it will work in the afternoon…it didn’t. The organization and a couple of hijras at the pitch said “A heterosexual man becoming a hijra is a cross dresser, they won’t know how we feel, how we love, how we feel pain and laugh” – oh yeah, good point. We were all dumb struck I tried to stay positive. One of the women said to me “I will still let you meet my group of hijra friends. Pitch it to them tomorrow, but change it. I would.” I had 24 hours. I decided to remove the whole man’s journey aspect and go with it.
Next day I was so nervous. The boys had to wait outside, while us four women were inside ready to pitch. One of the most memorable experiences of my life! When we walked in we sat opposite these women (I will now no longer call them hijras). It felt as though I was being summoned and my jury was in front of me. Nerves were rattling all over me, the sweat was dripping down my face, and my throat felt dry. But I had one chance. Instead of going with the whole man journey, I pitched it as though I want to show them, their beauty, their love, friendships, pain, them as humans – exactly what I had written at the beginning. I remember Manisha, she’s the one everyone listens to, kinda the boss of them, she was seriously looking at me the whole time making sure I was not a fraud. When she spoke no one else spoke. She said, while my heart was beating so fast “If you are going to show us as equals, then you are welcome into our homes and hearts” Everyone yelled with excitement both the women and my girly crew! I cried! I had never cried over a project before. I guess it really did mean a lot to me.
The boys came in with their cameras, the music was playing──blasting awesome tunes, and spicy food came to the door. It was like a mini party and believe it or not that became my trailer! Soon we spent the next three days with them and after spending all that time with them I knew what my film was about, but just didn’t know how to tell the guy we had on board. So we tried so hard to see how we could get him involved, but it just felt like an empty hole in me. Saying that he was such a sport, was ready for everything and anything and just knew he would get far in life.
I get back home after the intense India trip, my editor cutting the images for the trailer while my music composer was on the go with his software cracking emotions with music. I remember meeting my best friend late at night, Nadia. Telling her now the film was just capturing these women (but there’s more but you have to wait for the film) seeing them as humans and spending time with my friends for 30 days. She said so why is the guy involved? I had no answer. Nadia is pretty up front with me and I love it, and need it. She told me if she was my financier what would I tell them why the guy was involved now it had no connection to a man’s journey – I had no answer. The next day I had to let him go. I was amazed how well he took it, such a sport and a great guy and I will always respect him for that.
Black Sheep is a 30 day journey showcasing hijras as the everyday people, showing them as inspiration and heroes of the contemporary world.
I was ready to make the trailer, and even more I was ready to shoot this film and so pre-production of the film began and now we are three weeks away till we film. Since then I have gone back to India twice to meet the women and for them to make me their friend. I’m so excited to spend 30 days with my friends and show people, life is about welcoming and not shutting your eyes.
Life is beautiful; we can make it beautiful because memories will last a life time.
Saying that there was a long way to go to organize it!
Below is the link to my trailer – enjoy and let me know your thoughts on it.
Peace and Love – I shall write to you all next week.
Copyright 2014 Reshel Shah Kapoor