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The Deep – Reflections on Process

by Arun Wolf

Ideally a film or a book speaks for itself, and doesn’t need additional interpretation or explanation. So I don’t really want to add anything here about the Vayeda Brothers or Warli Art, beyond what is already communicated in the 20 or so minutes of the short film I’ve made about The Deep

A spread from the book

But I do want to use this space to focus on something that probably isn’t visible in the book or the short film. What is remarkable to me about many Tara projects is the spirit of collaboration that lies behind them. I think this commitment to genuine dialogue finds a way of seeping through into the pages of the books, but it’s perhaps not always obviously tangible. Apart from Mayur and Tushar, many others at Tara – including editors, designers and producers – played important roles in the conception and realisation of The Deep. The process involved lots of negotiation and iteration, based on what different people had to contribute at various stages. At the centre of this process are relationships built on mutual trust and respect, which allowed us to push the project as far as it could possibly go.

When making several of the short films that accompany Tara book projects, my aim has also been to enable artists and artisans to be able to speak for themselves. I do set out with an agenda to explore their lives as creators, and to extend and expand the world of the book in doing so. We come with some ideas and questions, and with camera in hand – and then chop, edit and shape what is recorded – but my hope is that what emerges is not just about them, but equally by them. So the picture that emerges is as much theirs as it is ours. Not imposing an external voice over, but instead allowing the narrative to flow from the perspective of the ‘subjects’ is, I think, an effective way to mirror the creative process that is essential to the books. Looking back at the processes behind many Tara projects, what emerges for me is a commitment (that is often unselfconscious) to changing the perspective from which stories get told.

The team who made the short film in Ganjad

Making this short film with Mayur and Tushar was a real pleasure. It was a very cheery and memorable few days that we spent with them in Ganjad. The project came together seamlessly, and it felt like the boundaries between them as the ‘talents’ and the team shooting the film almost dissolved. It was a time of fluid exchange, a shared existence that highlighted the similarities rather than differences amongst us. Apart from the fact that a lot of the footage was shot by them, at different points in time, this spirit of collaboration was most visible in the ‘claps’. When we started doing interviews with them, the Vayeda brothers quickly realised that we needed to clap at the beginning of takes, in order to synchronise cameras with the external mic. They decided to beat us to it, every time we started to record. This was a constant source of amusement, and set the tone for the more serious stuff to follow, as you’ll see.

Whether you’ve already read the book or not (do check it out if you haven’t yet), I hope you find the short film engaging and enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it!

Arun Wolf has been associated with Tara Books for several years, and has worn many hats (not literally) in this time including filmmaker, editor, web and business development. He has a keen interest in the intersections between culture, politics and commerce, particularly in craft process and art practices of individuals and communities that exist on the margins of the mainstream. He enjoys working on cross-media projects that tell compelling stories by bringing together different mediums.

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