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How I Made It - Clickbait (2021)

There is a new job in town, it's called 'Content Creation'. And 'content creators' inhabit two different worlds, real and virtual.

Pro-Hit or Purohit is a 27-year-old wannabe vlogger with a Hip-Hop themed channel on MeTube. He lives in New Delhi with his ailing father Ramakant who gets more and more frustrated with his son talking to a camera.

Pro-Hit has high hopes for views as he unboxes a newly received packet on his channel but nothing goes according to plan. With every passing minute, the line between Pro-Hit's real and virtual life gets blurred. The number of interactions take on more importance than the quality of it. Nameless and faceless opinions start to matter. They consume his time, fight for his attention and are fueled by it. His real relationships are pushed back out of focus as he views his life through a camera lens and tumbles down the deep dark rabbit hole in his quest for views. What is he going to find?

21 Mins 36 Secs | Hindi, English | Drama | 2021 | India

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, Diorama brings you the experience of the Director of the film - Nikhil Kapoor

What inspired you to venture into short filmmaking?

For me, short films are sort of a testing ground for feature-length films which is my end goal.

What was your background before making this film?

I run a film, animation and design studio by the name of Spacetime Studios based out of New Delhi. We make television commercials, promos and various kinds of corporate films.

What was the starting point for you of deciding to make this film?

Writing and Directing a short film has been on my 'to-do' list for the longest time. Its been one of those goals that I kept putting off for one reason or another, year after year. Then came the first Covid lockdown. There was ample time and I ran out of excuses I could give myself.

Why this subject matter for your film?

In storytelling, screenplay writing etc, we often come across the term 'motivation'. 'What's the characters motivation?' It is one of those essential questions every story teller must ask themselves. I attempt to apply that filter, ask that question in daily life interactions as well.

So, during the lockdown, my social media consumption went through the roof. Looking at random stuff I wondered what's the motivation behind the constant posts, reels, vlogs, shorts etc. And it's hard to miss the pressure. An almost desperate need to create a never ending supply of 'content' in order to satiate the algorithms and to keep you visible. Especially if you are a part of the influencer economy, you make stuff not because you have something to share or a story to tell. You do it simply because you have to. Your virtual survival depends on it.

Now, there is a Metaverse on the way. I think I am equal parts fascinated and horrified by it all and that's why it was my subject matter.

Where did you find this story for this film?

Going down one of the rabbit holes I chanced upon a vlogger with close to 10 Million subscribers. In that particular video, this person was recording in the hospital corridor, as his sister was being wheeled on a stretcher and seemed to be in considerable pain. I guess that was hard hitting for me in a way the vlogger never intended it to be. What does it take for us to film a family member in acute pain? Why do we record aftermath of a horrible car accident? Why do these videos get the sort of views they do? So on and so forth. Among these questions is where this story started to take shape.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

The biggest challenge, that overshadowed all other challenges was 'Corona'. We shot this after the first lockdown had lifted. No vaccines, no clear treatment. One of the actors fell sick after 1st day of shoot and you can imagine our paranoia. Of course, the shoot got delayed because of that, everyone had to get tested. It was a scary time to be on a set with people and go back home to the family at the end of the day.

Making short films on a zero or a low budget is a common practice for most short filmmakers around the world. Do you think it affects the quality of production? What would you suggest to first time short filmmakers on a budget to ensure a good enough production quality?

To the first part, 'yes'. Budget definitely affects the quality of production and it's only normal for filmmakers to want the best they can get for their stories.

To the first time short filmmakers on a budget, if you are driven to tell a story that you feel strongly about, and you are willing to pull out all stops, you can make Rs 10,000 work like Rs 50,000. Filmmaking, like all other art forms depends a lot on the spirit of the artist and the effort you put behind it. So don’t compromise on the quality till you have exhausted every avenue available to you.

Reach out to family and friends. You will be surprised at how much unconditional help you will get from people around you. To give you practical examples, half the actors in my film were friends with no acting experience, the location was the house of a friend and office of a relative. Even the catering on my shoot was provided by the mother of a dear friend who cooks exceptional Tamil dishes. On set we got some soul satisfying home cooked food at a fraction of the cost.

And once you have exhausted every avenue, tried everything and you are still not getting what you want (which is bound to happen at some point), always remember that 'getting it done' is more important than getting it perfect.

Did you face any problems in releasing or distributing the film? Do you think short filmmakers today have a marketplace to showcase and sell their works?

This was one of the biggest learnings for me. What comes after you make the film? I had never given serious thought to that aspect, till the day I finished the post on 'Clickbait'. Releasing, Distribution and Selling short films and the avenues to monetize them are things I am currently exploring myself for the first time, so I am still trying to figure it out. But I feel that’s where platforms like Diorama and Indian Film Institute play a hugely important role.

Any other interesting facts about this film that you may like to cover, any experiment you did, or style?

As surprising as it may sound, during test screenings, I learnt that many people did not know the meaning of the word 'Clickbait'. I am talking graduates and above from a city like Delhi. I wonder if I am the only one surprised by this fact.

What would you advise filmmakers making a short film for the first time?

Don't wait for the planets to align and things to be just right for you to make that film. 'Maybe someday' is just another term for 'never'. 'Discipline' combined with 'perseverance' is more powerful than any obstacle you may face. Start writing that first draft. Make that phone call and ask a favor. Shoot that opening scene. Start today.

Clickbait (2021), short film by Nikhil Kapoor
Film Poster - Clickbait (2021)

Festivals and Awards

  1. Winner: Tagore International Film Festival

  2. Winner: Shorted – Short Film Of The Month

  3. Official Selection: Goa Short Film Festival

  4. Official Selection: Diorama International Film Festival

  5. Official Selection: Lift-off First time Filmmaker Sessions

How to Reach the Director

Nikhil Kapoor

Instagram: @nikurious


Twitter: @nikurious


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