Here in Kathmandu, while the workers of the Nepalese film studio were setting up the lights, I walked through all the rooms, took pictures of what the personnel of the studio are busy with. See the photographs with commentary in the rest of the post.
Mini-reports from the set can be found in previous posts from this series: first, second.
This is what the filming pavilion looked like after several hours of the crew’s work with setting up lights and decorations. The room with awkwardly white-painted walls is supposed to create an atmosphere of an interrogation room in the basements of the Nepalese intelligence service. See these photographs in the first post.
Meanwhile, in the dark and cool basement of the studio, a worker diluted chemicals for the development of the film. As far as I can remember, digital movies are not available to everyone, so most movies are made using film.
In a small boxroom with a strong smell sits a lady who is in charge of chemicals. Her work involves marking in a big record-keeping book how many kilograms of white crystals have gone to one project or another.
Giant tubs with chemical soup will be lifted to the highest point and connected with pipes to the development apparatus.
Another worker of the development shop who is in charge of a giant machine through with film is ran for development checks in with some book.
It’s a serious apparatus: it hums, clunks, rollers spin. This person was very concentrated on what he was doing, maybe even a bit hostile.
Occasionally this light began to shine dimly. After which the keeper of the apparatus came and looked at the buttons for a long time. The shop smelled of chemicals, on the floor here and there were whitish dried puddles with salty edges.
A fingerless chemist from the laboratory had a lively interest in the model of my camera. He then took his Canon 400D out of his backpack and after a brief conversation became engulfed by the newspaper. A person with a North Face jacket and a camera that costs about one thousand American dollars slightly amazed me. The average salary in Nepal is about $170 a year. Apparently the movie industry is a profitable business here, too.
In the cutting room, a Nepalese in gloves cut the film, measuring the footage in accordance with tables with numbers on a piece of paper. Carefully, with a razor, he cleaned the edges of the film, after which he glued one of the sides and squeezed them on a special pressing machine. The glue, the consistency of which looks like the well-known super-glue, melts the film very well: it gets a death grip on it. Cleaning the edges with a razor is essential so that the thickness of the strip remains the same where the film had been glued. Otherwise the mechanism of the projector can stall.
A young guy about twenty-five years old (as with any other Asians, it’s very hard to determine the age of the Nepalese) was preparing lists for the editing procedure. They are what a special person will use to cut the film, and another to glue it into a whole reel of film.
Brochures for Nepalese movies with the smiling faces of actors with a look very similar to a European one are all over the studio.
A lady with polished robot-like movements marks the places where the film was cut on it.
She runs the film back and forth and marks something on a huge list of numbers on the screen of the monitor.
I’m not sure that these devices are used by anyone, but I found a whole room full of old projectors in the back part of the building.
For some reason, the hole in the door is covered with rags and tape. The feeling of a basement of a Russian research institute did not leave me.
In the sound-recording studio, audio-tracks for the video are edited on real macs. There is a quiet, soundproof room with microphones behind the glass. The actors have already recorded their lines, and I got to watch only the work of the audio editor. Typical Bollywood sounds of gunshots and ricochets could be heard in the room.
I’d like to remind you that over seventy movies a year are made in this studio. They are as low-budget as they can be, but, nonetheless, they find their audience, since for most, movies aren’t a cheap form of entertainment. Naturally, like in any developing country, a huge contrast is seen between the poor and the rich: black jeeps drive by the proletariat movie theater, and cows that run in different directions scare off pigeons.
The arrangement of the chemical laboratory. Notice the dust, dirt and spiderwebs in the corners.
Ever since childhood, the process of film development has fascinated me. So after touring the building, I once again went down to the basement to watch as the mechanisms, with humming and quiet, rhythmical rattling, pull kilometers of film through themselves. On which are faces, terrors, intrigues, investigations.