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Mastering the Art of Cinematography: In Conversation with Gurdeep Singh

Image commercially licensed from: https://unsplash.com/photos/shallow-focus-photography-of-black-professional-video-camera-on-table-0qLXyEKKPMM
Image commercially licensed from: https://unsplash.com/photos/shallow-focus-photography-of-black-professional-video-camera-on-table-0qLXyEKKPMM

Hello Gurdeep, nice to meet you. First of all, how have you been coping with quarantine and how has life drastically changed for you? Good and bad?

Covid has had a huge impact on me, mentally, physically, and socially. Luckily, I didn’t get infected. But I have seen people dying, losing their jobs, career, and loved ones. It was tough for everyone.

The only good part, Like many others, was also riding a train without knowing where I wanna go, covid gave me time to think, about what I wanted to do with my life, and revisit all the good and bad memory of the past. As a creative, it’s very important to look in the mirror and know yourself. Use your memory, use your imagination, and use your emotions to tell the stories your keeping inside yourself

Tell us about your background in producing and how it all started:?

I started my career as a producer by accident. It started back in 2014, in India, when one of my friends was supposed to produce music for Jassie Gill’s Baapu Zimmidar. Unfortunately, he got sick, and he called me to help him organize the shoot. I had no idea what I need to do. But coming from a film school in India I.e B.Tech in film, television, and media production, I do have theoretical knowledge, luckily everything went smoothly. I met Balwinder Singh Kohli ( Ruby) owner of Speed records on set. From there onwards, it was a smooth ride, I worked as Executive Producer for around 39 music video, and out of these 15 was major hits crossing over 200 million views on youtube. I never expected I will get a chance to work on the project of Daljit Dosanjh, Jassi Gill, Amy Virk, Parmish Verma, A-kay, Kulwinder Billa, and Mankirat Aulakh. Although I was working behind the camera, dealing with contracts, permissions, promotion, booking, budgeting, and scheduling. In the end, it was a team effort, I feel blessed that I got such an opportunity.

After that, I came to the US, and although, I did my major in cinematography but do got a chance to work as a producer on Gangster 2017, Fenced 2019, and A family Barbecue 2019. All these movies got critical acclaim and won numerous awards in film festivals. Producing in the United States is slightly different from India or Bollywood. Here we have more rules and more guidelines to follow, but they all exist for good reasons, initially, it felt tough but slowly I got used to it.And I have wonderful memory attached to all these projects.

List of awards 

A family barbecue – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8809718/awards/?ref_=tt_awd

Gangster – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7079456/?ref_=nm_flmg_prd_7

Fenced – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9010616/awards/?ref_=tt_awd

Do you feel like you have grown a lot more as an artist/producer over the years, through your experiences?

Yes, Of course, We all do mistakes, it’s a part of learning. I did so many. Sometimes I look back and I say what the hell was wrong with me back. It’s a huge responsibility. So much time, money, and effort are at stake. I became more proactive in budgeting, scheduling, and hiring people. Started having a plan A plan B and even Plan C. Even till the day, I was never able to sleep a day before the shoot. Stress is a part of success, sooner or later we need to learn how to deal with it. I don’t want to mention the artist, but in one of the earliest shoots the artist came 5 hours late on set, and the production budget got doubled, from that day I decided to always have 2-3 hours of buffer time. I mean there are so many things that are not in our hands, it can rain,I remember during the production of Gangster (2018). We were shooting the final at a studio in Burbank and the Police chopper was chasing someone in the neighborhood we literally have to wait for an hour since police sirens were creating noise for clear audio. I learned from every single set and I am still learning.

What has been one of your favorite projects to work on so far?

It’s very hard to pick one as all the projects I have worked on are close to me. But my favorite movie was “ From a Barren state”. I am closely attached to that movie, I worked as a cinematographer. We worked day and night on the script, has thought of debates regarding various scene options, transitions, choice of lens, and camera movement. Working with Priyam Sadhukhan was amazing, we became close friends on the shoots. Every scene of the film seemed challenging at times, but somehow we managed it. Every crew member has put their heart and soul into making that movie. And I won the best cinematographer Award at the crown wood film Festival 2019, Best Drama Paris Play film festival 2019,

From a Barren State Beyond The Curve film festival pending
Virgin Spring Cinefest Won, a silver award from Best Director | won, Gold award from Best actress
Calcutta International cult Film Festival 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award, Best actress | laura Van YCk
Crownwood International Film Festival Official Selection

(24th monthly session best cinematography

Won, Gurdeep Singh Sidhu

Who has been one of your favorite actors/filmmakers you have worked with so far and why?

I have the pleasure of working with Baljit Singh Deo, He is my favorite Cinematographer and an absolute genius. It was dream come true when I got a chance to assist him, Baljit sir has directed 7 movies and over 30 music videos, and 8 features as a cinematographer, still, he is so down earth and humble person, I will consider me a successful if I can become 1% of him. He has an amazing eye for detail, he is a master of technique and a child from the heart. I have never seen anyone more passionate than him. After him, I admire Sidhu Moosewala, such a big name, it’s so saddening he is no more,I remember meeting him on the shoot of the Same BeeF, he was so humble, I felt like I am meeting a celebrity,I was so sad hearing the sad news about him, he was and he is a true legend.

What other projects do you have coming up?

Currently, we are working on our next project, Sleepless Night. It’s a TV series based on the nightlife of LA, New York, and the Bay area. We are planning to shoot 3 seasons. It is going to be produced under Urban Phulkari Films. We are still finalizing location and setting up an audition in a month or two. I don’t want to reveal the story, but the whole series will be shot at night time, I am very excited about this series. I hope everything goes well, and God will help us like always.

 

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