Last September, I embarked on a 9 day journey to Udaipur, India, with 4 other studios to film the wedding film of Melissa + Samir. Two weeks ago, we finally premiered the film in Las Vegas at the Brendan Theatre at the Palms Hotel. It was a surreal experience taking part of this incredible production, but I’ll explain more of that and my role in a later blog post (with a lot of images). In the meantime, here is a writeup from the director Kevin Shahinian, and the feature film itself.
“What happens to a dream when it becomes reality?
Does it still exist somewhere, in some ethereal place, waiting to come to fruition again?
Could a fictional narrative capture an emotional state, and the true meaning behind a real, live event with more drama and conviction than a traditional documentary?
These were just some of the questions that arose when I took on the â€œCITY OF LAKESâ€ project late last year. First, it would become an unprecedented attempt to combine a fully scripted, produced film with Melissa & Samir’s real, live wedding, with intention of creating one, seamless film. Second, the live wedding and production would be shot entirely on-location in Udaipur, India over a period of nine days. Third, the skeleton crew I would commission would be made up solely of live event filmmakers from across North America, who would shoot the live wedding events and production simultaneously & exclusively on DSLRs, the Canon 5D MarkII and Canon 7D.
â€œCITY OF LAKESâ€ is as much a documentary about what it means to return to the birthplace of oneâ€™s ancestors, as it is an exploration of the Hindu faith, and the rituals of a Hindu marriage. Central to this is the Ganesh puja, which in simple terms, is a prayer over a fire believed to invoke the spirit of Ganesh, a great deity and protector, who can remove all obstacles from oneâ€™s path. The puja is performed several times in the film and carries great significance to the plot and characters in both literal and metaphoric ways.
Melissa & Samir had always dreamed of being married in India. We hope this film helps them cherish that dream. But it could not have been without the acting talents of Anubhab Saha, Sharon Chawda and Rushad Rana, who were consummate professionals and a joy to work with. It also could not have been without the support of our sponsors: Canon, who provided two pre-production 7Ds and a host of L-series lenses; Tiffen, who provided all of our lighting; and Cinevate, who sent us much needed gear and sponsored an incredible behind-the-scenes campaign viewable at Cinevate.com.
The challenges were immediate, abundant and frequent. At times, we were certain the film was destined for failure; I often wondered if the film was too ambitious to execute. But what resulted was due in no small part to a crew made up of live event filmmakers who deal routinely in making the spontaneous appear staged. We’re proud to share Melissa & Samirâ€™s â€˜hybridâ€™ feature, â€œCITY OF LAKES,â€ which hopefully achieves more than a documentary, and perhaps at the same time, more than a scripted film.
There is a final question we hope youâ€™ll find difficult to answer as you watch our film. In more ways than one, try to answer:
What is real?
Thanks for watching,
Pacific Pictures presents â€œCITY OF LAKESâ€
Starring Melissa Kumar, Samir Shah, Anubhab Saha, Sharon Chawda & Rushad Rana
Written & Directed by Kevin Shahinian
Produced by Kevin Shahinian & Patrick Moreau
Line Producer Pravin Thakur
Director of Photography Patrick Moreau
2nd Unit Director Joe Simon
2nd Unit Steadicam Casey Warren
Film Editor Kevin Shahinian
Jib Operator Chris Geiger
Set Photographer Amish Solanki