Filmmaker Hemwant Tiwari Takes One Shot and Keeps on Going!

by Gordon Shelly

Following his Best Feature Film and Best Actor wins in the 2021 INFLUX Film Awards, we had a chance to sit down with filmmaker and actor Hemwant Tiwari and ask him a few questions about his movie, Lomad, his career, and himself.

INFLUX MAGAZINE: LOMAD (THE FOX) is a unique film, shot in one take (or so it appears).  Was it actually shot in one take? If no, how did you conceal the edits?  If yes, how did your crew prepare for the task?

Hemwant Tiwari: I understand your astonishment. I am smiling for the fact that I have won the best feature film and best actor and still you are asking me whether it is actually shot without edits. This is nothing less than a big compliment for the team of LOMAD(THE FOX) from a festival who has seen the film and has allotted us the biggest award of the festival.  Yes, it is a one shot and let me say we were ordinary folks with an extraordinary passion and determination and that is what created an unbeatable team. A team that didn’t give up till we got the final take; the whole crew worked really hard with utmost focus, precision and made sure to achieve the director’s vision. They all showed up everyday, without fail irrespective of their circumstances, rehearsed everyday under the scorching sun; it was only when the team said they are good for the take is when we rolled. Let me take a moment to count this blessing of having an awesome team.

IM: How did you help prepare the actors for such an undertaking?

Hemwant: I was blessed  to have the most amazing set of actors with me. they were trained actors i didnt have to do much with them. they had created backstories of the characters. they had learnt the whole script so well that they could have delivered the dialogues backwards. they involved me in their every action and their every decisions. they never complained about any discomforts. they rehearsed without fail for six months. They were passionate. They were and are incredible. I didn’t have to prepare them, they prepared me. Thanks to them.

IM: With the movie receiving so much critical and festival acclaim, where would you like to see it go from here?

Hemwant: I have always said this. i am not deciding the fate of this film. I am not steering it at all. this film is doing everything on its own and creating its own path.  Let’s see where it takes me. I am glad that festivals are recognizing the film and our efforts. I really appreciate it.

IM: As both the filmmaker and lead actor, what were some of the challenges you had with making this movie?

Hemwant: When I started this nothing occurred to me. but gradually in the process I realized it is extremely tough to pull off a film as a an actor/director can be really challenging. I feel one should go on the floor only when you have a bound script and I also feel that your film is actually made in pre-production. If we work on these two stages, it’s a piece of cake afterwards. It worked for me. To unlearn everything is the biggest challenge. To unlearn what I have discussed with the actors the crew and with the production. If you have anything in your mind before going in front of the camera you can actually mess it up. You can actually ruin everyone’s hard work. So to keep everything aside just before entering the frame can be quite tedious process. [The] team helped me and I was able to do it with all the seven colors of rainbow

IM: What advice would you give to a filmmaker considering making a one take film?

Hemwant: Finish your script, give the maximum time to pre-production, go on the floor with all the answers, with all the detailing. You should know everything. You are about to do something extraordinary so be prepared to have extra of enthusiasm, energy, tolerance, positive vibe and obviously a bit extra of belief.

IM: Was there any particular inspiration for this movie? If so, please explain.

Hemwant: Yes. Long time back, I had seen ROPE and I was really happy to watch it, I was definitely drawn towards it. It was many years back, after that I watched RUSSIAN ARK and I was stunned again and that’s when I thought I will work in something like this, not as a filmmaker, but as an actor. It was only after I watched VICTORIA that I started writing something and ended up writing LOMAD which was first titled as THE BRIDGE. It was a short story of 22-minutes. but after I discussed it with friends I realized I can write a feature length film. After that, I wrote a 75-page bound script of LOMAD

IM: From start to finish how long was the process to conceive, make, and complete the movie? What were the greatest obstacles encountered at each step?

Hemwant: It took me a total of two and a half years from start to finish and the journey will continue till it sees its release. I have to keep the hopes and the dreams of my team alive. One of my teammates said, “You have made the film, now you have to make sure it releases.”  If I talk about obstacles there are many but let’s just say for now that financially I am broken. I have to think twice how will I pay my rent for the next month. For months, I had no ration at my place. I have survived on gurudwaras food (i am thankful), i sold my house stuff, my bike, my savings. However, through out this whole journey of ups and downs, one thing was and is constant, hope.

IM: What’s next for the movie? Where can/will readers be able to watch this in the future?

Hemwant: I am working towards it and I am sure the universe will place this film at the right time in front of the audience. The moment it releases the world will know about it and I will make sure your readers know about it too.

IM: What’s next for you? Are there any up-coming projects you would like to tell us about?

Hemwant: Yes, definitely two bound scripts are ready and I am gradually working towards it. We will be on the floors soon. God is Great.