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A team that doesn’t just execute your vision, and showing up with a detailed plan and the freedom to throw it overboard

One of the best pieces of storytelling in movies I’ve recently seen is the movie White Tiger.

Director Ramin Bahrani spoke about the creation process of the movie.

There were two interesting things about the creative process in there that stood out to me:

The movie is based on the book by Aravind Adiga, and Ramin and Aravind have been friends who always talked about movies in college. Ramin actually read early drafts of the book before it came out, and Aravind has often been giving feedback on scripts Ramin worked on. So there’s a long history of the two of them jamming on stories together already, which is always something that I find beautiful.

When making a book into a movie, how do you decide what to keep and what to discard?

[Minute 4:40 in the video] This was one of the hardest parts of making this movie for Ramin. He liked the book so much that at first he just included everything he likes from the book and ended up with a 200-page script. A movie script is normally 90-120 pages long, so what followed was a painful process of cutting out parts of the story.

On team: “I don’t want them to just execute my vision. I want them to bring something to it, to make it more.”

[Minute 6:50 in the video] Trust your team. Typically non-Indians shooting movies in India bring a big crew with them, but he didn’t want to do this. He brought around five people of his own crew with him, and the rest of the team was Indian. His crew was 99% Indian. Passionate, dedicated, talented people.

Arrive with a detailed plan, but then change everything in the moment

[Minute 10:30 in the video] “The production allowed me to do what I really want, which is freedom on set. To be loose on set. I like to show up with a very detailed plan. I’m hyper-organized. And I have a very clear plan. But then I always show up and want to change everything. Because I see things in that moment that inspire me, and I’m challenging my actors to do whatever they want to do, not what I want them to do. And that means freedom. And the crew here gave me that […]”

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