- My deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of the late great Ravi Baswani (Baba). The news of his passing this month saddened all of us who had the privilege of working with him on Monsoon. He will be remembered for his exuberant laugh, his infectious sense of humor, his commitment to excellence in his work and his generous spirit. Ravi left us much too soon in this life but his work will forever be immortalized in the cinematic legacy he leaves behind. I am deeply honored to have Monsoon be a small part of that legacy. I will cherish our experiences working together for a lifetime. Rest in peace.
- Sorry for the long delay in getting some new news on Monsoon. We've been busy! Our film is now being broadcast all over the world. A major European broadcaster, Canal Plus, will be airing Monsoon on Polish television over the next several years. We will also be airing on KTEH-TV, a local PBS station, in San Jose, California as part of their "Video i" series. We are in talks with more exhibitors and distributors to show it to even more audiences worldwide.
- There are rumblings of turning Monsoon into a feature film. With the success of Slumdog Millionaire, the climate could be perfect. We would love to know if you would like to see Monsoon as a feature film. It would require a lot of grassroots support from people like you to make it a success. So please email us and let us know your thoughts.
- It has been a busy summer for Joseph and Shyam. After the film's success at the USC First Look Film Festival and then being signed by ICM, Joseph and Shyam have been busy at work getting their first feature film off the ground. The duo wrote several drafts of a movie script called LAST RIDE. Joseph Itaya will direct and Shyam will produce with Scott Bridges and Richard Ford of Sure Crossing Films. The film is partially financed and cast. It is scheduled to go into production in Fall 2008.
- More good news. Shyam has been officially attached to direct his first feature film to be produced by Wolfgang Peterson. If the project goes, it would be a ticket to the big leagues for Shyam. We're keeping our fingers crossed that all the necessary elements fall into place so the project is green lit. More updates on that later.
- MONSOON has been invited to some more film festivals starting with the Hermosa Shorts Film Festival where it has been nominated for Best Director. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony on August 9th. See the screenings page for more information.
- MONSOON picks up distribution! The Spiritual Cinema Circle will be distributing MONSOON to members of their monthly DVD club and online at their website. SCC is a wonderful organization dedicated to finding and distributing uplifting cinema to its members via monthly DVDs containing a variety of shorts, documentaries, and feature films. We are very excited to be a part of the SCC cinema family. And we highly recommend you check out their website and become a member. For more info on SCC click here.
- Excellent news for the director/producer team of MONSOON. Shyam Balsé and Joseph Itaya were officially signed by mega talent agency ICM in Los Angeles as a result of recent awards garnered by MONSOON!! This is a big step up for the duo who up to now have been trying to launch their careers themselves. Hopefully this will be a lightning rod that gets them going on their next film project soon.
- Just when you thought it was over. MONSOON screens twice more in May at the Delray Beach Film Festival in Florida, and the Antelope Valley Independent Film Festival in Lancaster, Ca. Rumor has it there might be more film festival screenings later in 2008. Stay tuned.
- MONSOON ends its film festival run with a BIG BANG! Last week at the USC First Look 2.0 Film Festival MONSOON screened as 1 of 6 finalists for Best Film (among nearly 50 films contending) in front of hundreds of Industry scouts and professionals at the famous Director's Guild of America Theater. The awards were decided by a jury of notable USC alumni and working professionals. And when it was all over MONSOON won the Silver Medal for Best Picture! That brought the total awards for First Look to 3, making it the most honored film of the festival. We even got a write up in the LA Times!
- Great News! MONSOON won faculty awards for BEST DIRECTOR and BEST EDITOR (received by editor extraordinaire Tom Gould) at the USC FIRST LOOK 2.0 FILM FESTIVAL. First Look 2.0 is the prestigious annual showcase of USC thesis films. After a long year of traveling the film festival circuit it was especially meaningful to conclude our run getting recognized amongst our faculty and peers at USC. Now all eyes turn to April 2 when the Jury Prize for Best Film, for which MONSOON was nominated, will be announced. The ceremony will take place at the world famous Directors Guild of America and will be jam packed with Industry professionals and talent scouts. It should prove to be an exciting night. More on that soon!
- After many months of silence its time for another update. Despite our time away there has been some positive activity with MONSOON. First and foremost, we picked up our 12th and 13th Film Festival Awards! The honors herald from The International Cherokee Film Festival in Oklahoma and from the Anderson Valley Film Festival in Booneville, Ca. That brings the total number of film festivals we have screened at to 35!
- MONSOON will be having its FINAL official screening at the USC First Look Student Film Festival coming up at the end of March. USC's famous thesis film showcase is an annual event that draws top Hollywood industry players and screens at the Norris Theater on campus. There is food, drink and fanfare so please email us if you'd like to come.
- After an exquisite, successful, and jam packed year on the film festival circuit MONSOON is to be retired after this next screening in LA. We are so honored and grateful to have been able to ride the coattail of this film that was the result of such a huge collaborative effort of so many talented and dedicated people. Traveling around the country and sharing the film with crowds of hundreds, meeting tons of great people and new friends, and watching so many incredible films by visionary new filmmakers, has been an absolute inspiration and joy for us. We wish everyone who worked on our film could have shared that with us. We are thankful for the blessing that MONSOON has been in our lives, but now it is time to turn our efforts fully towards making our next project--our first feature film. Joseph and I have several scripts we are developing and writing and we are planning on shooting one of them this summer. If all goes well we'll be able to collaborate with many of the same people behind MONSOON. We'll let you know how it goes! But in the meantime, thank you to all our supporters, cast, and crew for a wonderful ride. We can't wait to do it all again.
- Although you won't see MONSOON in many more film festivals after March, you can still watch it!! The DVD is currently available to purchase! All you need to do is grab a credit card or your paypal account info and click HERE to buy it (and we would love to have your support!). We are also looking into getting MONSOON in the hands of a short film distributor who can get the film out to a wider audience, ideally on the internet or television. Check back here for updates on that in the future.
- MONSOON wins its 11th Award! The honor came from the city of Shyam's sister's birth and the place where Shyam attended college as an undergraduate--San Diego, California. The San Diego Asian Film Festival awarded MONSOON with Best Dramatic Narrative Short.
- MONSOON had it's New York premier on October 6 at the South Asian International Film Festival. Executive Producer, Alene DiDio was in attendance along with the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey and several friends. The film screened to a crowd of hundreds and was very well received.
- MONSOON will be screening in Los Angeles once again, this time at the world famous Egyptian Theater in Hollywood at the Arpa International Film Festival. We will also be screening at the Directors Guild of America at the Angelus Student Film Festival. Check the screenings page for more info.
- Great News!! As of last week Shyam is officially in development as director on a wonderful feature film at Wolfgang Petersons (Das Boot, Air Force One, Troy, The Perfect Storm) company Radiant Productions. Shyam is currently working with the writer on a rewrite of the script. This is very exciting news as it is his first chance to direct a major Hollywood motion picture! There are still many steps before the film could be green lit, but we are well on our way. So please keep you fingers crossed.
- We have also been blessed to have won our 10th Award. The honor heralds from the Heartland Film Festival where we were one of 6 short films to win the Jimmy Stewart Memorial Crystal Heart Award, out of over 400 in competition. The festival is going to fly us out to Indiana, put us in tuxedos, and present us the award at a black tie awards gala. At the gala they will name one of the 6 Crystal Heart Award winners as the grand prize winner. The gala will take place in Indianapolis on October 20.
- MONSOON has been selected as finalist for the Angelus Student Film Festival Awards. This is a prestigious student film festival that draws submissions from the best film schools in the country. Out of hundreds of submissions we are 1 of 10 finalists. They are holding a special luncheon to announce the winners on September 28. Winners will get to screen at the prestigious Directors Guild of America theater. There is a lot of publicity and attention given to these events which means great exposure for the whole MONSOON family.
- To date we have officially been accepted into 31 film festivals and there are still many more we are waiting to hear back from. We are getting great reviews from programmers and audiences around the country. We even got an email today from a fan in Argentina who saw the trailer and was moved enough to write!
- MONSOON continues to blaze along getting into 2 more film festivals. The DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival and the Mill Valley Film Festival. Mill Valley is considered an Oscar qualifying festival meaning that if we win a major award there then we can be considered for an Oscar nomination!
- MONSOON gets featured on MySpace! We are not sure how or why, but the Monsoon Myspace webpage was one of the 4 featured profiles on the Myspace Films home page on Thursday 8/10/07. The Monsoon Myspace page features information about the film, pictures and the trailer. By midnight that day we had racked up over 540 views on the trailer and over 1900 hits on our page! Inspired by the success in cyberspace, we are quickly uploading the trailer to youtube as well. So look for us online, add us as a friend, and please give us high ratings and great comments! Our myspace site is myspace.com/monsoonfilm.
- MONSOON gets into two more festivals! Both will be in October. The first one is at the Independent South Asian Film Festival in Seattle, Washington. The second will be at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana which Shyam will be attending.
- MONSOON has been accepted into its 26th film festival, this time at the Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival in Idahoe. See the Screenings page for more info.
- MONSOON to premier in San Diego! We just got word we will be screening at the San Diego Asian American Film Festival in October. San Diego is the birthplace of Shyam's sister Shanti and home to many of their family members. It is also the home of Shyam's alma matter, UCSD. Stay tuned for more details.
- MONSOON wins in New York! We picked up our 9th Award at the Long Island International Film Expo for Best Foreign Film. We also got notification that we got accepted into two more film festivals, the DC meets Delhi Film Festival in Washington DC, and the LA Shorts Fest.
- MONSOON is invited to screen at it's 21st film festival. The big one will be at the Palm Springs Festival of Short Films in late August. This is a huge festival and film market with lots of Hollywood industry types in attendance. Joseph and Shyam are planning on attending. We also got into the Monsoon Film Festival in New Delhi as well as the Dallas South Asian Film Festival in Texas. Please see the screenings page for details.
- Joseph and Shyam have been invited to participate in the Windrider Forum: Filmmaking for Social Change event taking place in Colorado Springs, Co July 19-22. This is a very exciting opportunity for us as only a small group of select filmmakers will show their films and participate in panels discussing the intersection between spirituality and film and how we can use film to highlight the similarities between people of different religions rather than our differences. There are some other great filmmakers in attendance, many of whom were invited from the Sundance Film Festival, so we will be in great company. See the screenings page for more info.
- MONSOON picks up 2 Best Director Awards! The first award comes from Wyoming at the Jackson Hole Film Festival where Shyam and Joseph were in attendance. Taken by complete surprise Shyam was awarded Jackson's famed Cowboy Award for The Best Short Film Director out of 40+ short films in competition. The second award was announced at the Breckenridge Festival of Film where we had already been awarded the Best Student Film a couple weeks earlier. This brings the total number of awards for MONSOON to 8!
- After 2 fantastic weeks in Wyoming and Hawaii we are finally back in Los Angeles. There was so much packed into this whirlwind trip its hard to describe all the great times...but I'll try. Jackson Hole, Wyoming lived up to its reputation as one of America's most beautiful places. Shyam and Joseph spent several days there watching great movies, meeting great people, attending great parties, and searching for moose in Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks (which we finally saw on our last day!). From there Shyam flew off to the paradise isle of Maui in Hawaii for the Maui Film Festival. Perhaps one of the most decadent film festivals we've attended, the festival boasted a number of elegant parties featuring delectable dishes from the island's top chefs. From grilled lobster tails, to the freshest sushi, to tender rack of lamb, to rich chocolate martinis and truffles, it was a fine diner's haven. Many of the films showed in an outdoor open air theater under the brilliant Maui night sky, one of the best venues I've ever had the pleasure to watch a movie in. All in all a great trip. The only thing it was missing was the presence of all the great cast and crew who made MONSOON possible and who equally deserved to be there to celebrate with us.
- MONSOON picks up its 6th Film Festival Award! The honor hails once again from the beautiful Rocky Mountain state of Colorado, this time from the oldest film festival in America at the 27th Annual Breckenridge Festival of Film. Although no representatives of the film will be present to receive the honor, we were notified by the Festival staff that MONSOON was awarded Best Student Film. The film screens this Friday June 8 in Breckenridge in case anyone wants to check it out. See the screenings page for more information.
- MONSOON continues blazing through the film festival circuit. Starting on June 7 Shyam will be joined by Joseph Itaya and Editor Tom Gould during a 12 day trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Maui, Hawaii to represent the film at the film festivals held there. These are two of the most beautiful locations in America and during the festivals they will become a hotbed of films, fun, and sumptuous food. Jackson Hole is just a stones throw away from the world famous Yellowstone National Park, and is supposed to be breathtakingly gorgeous. And Maui, well its Hawaii, the emerald necklace of the Pacific. Needless to say it is going to be a fantastic trip. What a great excuse for a vacation! Bon Voyage!
- MONSOON Hits Northern California! We just got back from the Mendocino Film Festival where MONSOON won the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short Film! Originally we only had 1 screening for MONSOON but it sold out early and the demand for tickets was so high they scheduled us another screening. This was the only screening in the festival to sell out! Overall MONSOON was a huge hit in Mendocino. Two newspapers interviewed us, click here or check out What People Are Saying to read all the articles.
- We had a special MONSOON premier party in Mendocino where we showed the film and Shanti's "Making of Monsoon" for all the donors and supporters in Mendocino. About 200 people showed up, feasted on Indian food and wine and watched the films. The response of the crowd was fantastic, the compliments were overwhelming. People seemed genuinely moved.
- MONSOON has gotten into several more film fests (one of which we were invited to right on the spot at the awards ceremony in Mendocino). As the record stands MONSOON has been officially selected in 18 film festivals and has won 5 awards. Check here for more details.
- MONSOON wins at its 3rd Film Festival in a row! It has been an unbelievable couple of weeks. We just got word that MONSOON won the top two awards at the Denver First Look Film Festival, Best Narrative Film and Best Overall Film . Unfortunately nobody from the team was representing the film in Denver but the festival organizers have promised to send the trophies along. To read the email from the festival click here and see "What People Are Saying".
- MONSOON wins another! After an amazing week of films, parties, and networking at the 5th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) MONSOON was announced winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film on April 22, 2007. The awards ceremony was followed by an evening of Indian food and dance which took place at Level 3, a club located right above the prestigious Kodak Theater in Hollywood where the Academy Awards are presented each year. IFFLA was an especially important film festival for the filmmakers as it is one of the largest and most recognized Indian Film Festivals in the world. It draws the who's who of the Indian film community and those in Hollywood interested in South Asia. In attendance at the ceremony with Shyam Balsé were Producers Joseph Itaya and Dileep Singh Rathore.
- MONSOON is accepted into its 15th film festival! The film will have its Wyoming premier at the Jackson Hole Film Festival in June. It will also screen at the Breckenridge Festival of Film in Colorado that same month. And we're still waiting to hear back from many more. Stay tuned!
- MONSOON won Best Narrative Short at the 10th Annual Sonoma Valley Film Festival on April 15, 2007! Sonoma is a beautiful town just North of San Francisco, California right in the heart of wine country. It was a wonderful festival with excellent films and great wine. The competition was tough but MONSOON was voted the winner by the panel of jurors (one of which was a Sundance Film Festival programmer!). The award was presented to Shyam Balsé at an Awards Ceremony Sunday night in front of a crowd of hundreds. Congratulations to everyone who worked on the film! Click here for a list of winners
- The official premier of MONSOON at REEL BIG SHORT III was a roaring success. It took place on March 7 at the beautiful Fine Arts Theater of Beverly Hills. The 400 plus theater was packed and we had standing room only. People were even turned away because of over capacity! MONSOON was the last of the 4 USC thesis films that played and it was received by thunderous applause. Afterwards we were inundated with 'congratulations' and 'great job's. There were many compliments on the music, acting, and cinematography. And several young ladies who wanted to know more about handsome Govinda. Shanti's production photos were framed and on display in the lobby and MONSOON DVD's were handed out. It was a great night all around.
- Post premier has been quite fruitful. One of the major goals with these thesis films is to attract an agent or manager who can help further our careers as writer/directors. There were several such people in the audience at REEL BIG SHORTS III who really liked the film and we are following up with. We'll let you know if any deals are made!
- MONSOON continues its rotation through the film festival circuit. Joseph and I attended their first festival with the film in Sedona, Arizona where we were given an all expense paid trip for 4 days. Not only was Sedona breathtaking, but we saw some of the best films we've seen in years. Independent cinema is alive and well! MONSOON screened twice to a sold out shorts program and it was very well received. Although we didn't win any awards we did get to peak at the results of the audience favorite poll and we averaged 4.25 points out of a 5 point scale which was a fraction off from the highest rated short that averaged 4.48. So not bad. The next festival after that was the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival which was an absolute blast. We just had one screening in a sold out theater of over a 100 people. Since San Francisco is so close to where I grew up I was able to get about 20 of my friends and family to come see it for the first time. It was officially our Northern California premier.
- There are several film festivals coming up so if you haven't seen MONSOON yet on the big screen be sure to come out and see it. The next few take place in April in both Northern and Southern California. And we are getting into new festivals all the time. We are even starting to get invited to some festivals from program directors who've heard the 'buzz' about our film. The latest addition to our film festival list is the Newport Beach Film Festival. Check out the 'screenings' page for all the details.
- The official MONSOON DVD is finally complete!! All those who've worked on the film or contributed in some way, please contact us to get a copy sent to you. And if you didn't work on the film but want a copy anyway email us and we'll figure out a way to get you one. Even if you've seen the movie you'll want to check out the DVD because there is an extra special feature on there that you don't want to miss. It's the 'Making of Monsoon' that was the behind the scenes video directed by the brilliant Shanti Balsé. If you like the movie, you'll love the making of. Check it out.
- Another Northern California screening is announced! We just got accepted into our 10th film festival, the Sonoma Valley Film Festival which takes place April 11-15, 2007. For those of you from Northern California who can't make it to LA for the premier you can now see it in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Mendocino and now Sonoma. Check out the screenings page for more info.
- The Los Angeles premier of MONSOON at Big Shorts III is just days away. Invitations have gone out and emails have been sent. People are traveling from all over California to attend. We are hoping for a great turnout! If you are interested in coming and haven't received information you can find out more on the screenings page of this website, just look for BIG SHORTS III. Please RSVP at the Big Shorts website if you can attend.
- On March 1 Shyam Balsé and Joseph Itaya will head out to the Sedona International Film Festival where MONSOON has been invited to screen. This begins a 2 month tour of MONSOON through several film festivals in Arizona and California. Check back here in a couple weeks, we'll let you know how it all goes.
- MONSOON continues to do well in the film festival circuit! We have just been invited to two more film festivals in Los Angeles that will take place in April. The Beverly Hills Film Festival and the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles. The Indian Film Festival is one of the largest South Asian Film Festivals around and draws an impressive crowd of Bollywood and Hollywood filmmakers. If you're in LA, be sure to come out and see us.
- Mark your calendars! The Los Angeles premier of MONSOON at Big Shorts III will take place on March 7, 2007. Preparations are already well underway. The screening will take place at the fantastic Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills. MONSOON will screen with 3 other superb short films made be fellow USC filmmakers Charles Haine, Jacob Hatley, and Michael Rochford. We are expecting a full house of family, friends and Hollywood insiders so please RSVP. Invites will be sent out shortly. The website will be up soon with more details.
- Happy New Year! 2007 promises to be a great year already. This is the official release year of our baby MONSOON. With 2 premiers on the horizon, and many more festivals on the way, this is the time for MONSOON to be seen by the world! Its what we've all been waiting for, when all our hard work pays off. Already we've been accepted into 3 more film festivals, these ones much bigger than the last ones. The biggest one will bring us back to the city we love so much for the San Francisco International Asian-American Film Festival. We also got two personal calls just today from the directors of programming at the Sedona International Film Festival and the Santa Cruz Film Festival who said they would love to show MONSOON and invited us to be present at the Q&A. Dates TBA. Keep checking back for more info on screenings and other exciting news.
- For those of you waiting to receive copies of the film, DVDs will be made very soon. They will be ready by the premier of MONSOON in Los Angeles on March 7. Any cast, crew or donors that attend will receive a copy then. Also, we'll have some at the Mendocino premier as well. Thanks for your patience!
- It looks like the Mendocino premier will have to push back until after the Los Angeles premier in March. It might happen sometime in April. We are trying to find a time when everyone will be able to make it. Please check back here for dates once they are set.
- As we near the end of 2006, exactly a year after we shot the film, we've got more good news for MONSOON. We've gotten into 3 more film festivals in Beverly Hills, CA, Chennai, India and in Shyam's hometown of Mendocino, CA. We've submitted to many more and are waiting to hear back.
- Preparations are beginning for the Los Angeles premier of MONSOON. It will screen at the beautiful Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills on March 7, 2007 along with 3 other great USC thesis films. More information will come in the new year when we'll have a website up and invites will be sent out.
- Great news! MONSOON was accepted to its first film festival! It will premier at the Miami Short Film Festival at the end of the month (See the Screenings section for more details). We also got a very nice email from the director of the Sonoma Valley Film Festival who praised the film who said it was one of the best she'd seen so far! (see her comments on the screenings page as well). And we're still sending it out to many festivals and waiting to hear back on many more.
- After many attempts to have the Northern California premier of MONSOON in Mendocino this Fall, we alas have to push it back until the New Year. But don't fret, it will happen. And we have set a date for the Los Angeles Premier at Big Shorts in March. More details on that will come in January.
- As for an update on the filmmakers, Shyam and Joseph have been extremely busy since graduating in May. They've started a new production company where they are running all their productions out of (check them out at temperedentertainment.com). They are producing tons of commercials, as well as a feature length documentary about the 2008 Olympics, and they produced and are now shopping around a short promo film based on a feature script called "Devil's Grove" that they are developing. In the meantime they are developing several more feature projects including another India film!
- After several months of construction our new website is finally up and running. Sorry to those of you who've been looking for updates and finding nothing, but believe us, we've been busy! Since August MONSOON has been submitted to 20 different film festivals including Sundance, Slamdance, Jackson Hole, and many other majors. We should be hearing back on whether or not we get in starting December. Keep your fingers crossed.
- We are in the works planning for the MONSOON premier in Los Angeles and Mendocino. The Los Angeles premier might be happening in February while the Mendocino premier should take place in November. The announcement will be made here first so check back for details.
- For the cast, crew and contributors who have been so patiently waiting to see MONSOON complete we are hard at working making DVDs of the film. It will be worth the wait though because in addition to the film and cool DVD menus, we are adding a very special DVD extra. Its the behind the scenes making of MONSOON directed by my talented sister, Shanti Balsé. She did a really great job with it, I think you'll enjoy it.
- IT'S FINISHED! As of June 22 the final touches were put on MONSOON and the film was declared complete. We arranged a private screening for our USC faculty mentor, Michael Taylor, who said he "couldn't be more pleased" with the film. That means Shyam's thesis project has been officially approved and now he's cleared to receive his MFA degree from USC after 4 long years.
- With the film complete now begins the publicity and marketing stage of MONSOON. Shyam and Joseph are working hard on getting ready to send the film out to the world. A new website is currently being built that will feature production stills, cast and crew bios, and a movie trailer. Designers are working on new cover art for the movie poster and DVD's. Once the art is finished DVD's will be made and sent out to film festivals across the world. And there is a Los Angeles premier and a Mendocino premier being planned for the Fall. Once dates are set they will be posted here so check back!
- The final picture is assembled and color corrected. The final sound is edited and mixed. The last stage left before MONSOON is complete is to layback the sound to the picture which will happen the first week of June. Once that is complete, dubs will be made, DVD's will be burned, and the nation's best film festivals will be bombarded by MONSOON submissions. And soon we'll be setting up a premier for all our family, friends, crew and contributors. More details to come...
- On May 22 and 23, Shyam, Joseph, and MONSOON sound designer, Bobby Garza, got the opportunity of a lifetime to go do the final sound mix at Skywalker Sound on George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We mixed for 2 days on the state of the art Orson Wells mixing stage with Skywalker veteran Tony Serrano. It's the same stage where parts of Star Wars prequels and other major Hollywood motion pictures were mixed. We got visits from Oscar award winning sound designer Randy Thom, and the soon to be released animated feature Monster House , Gil Kenan, who popped into our mix to say hi. Then to top it off, when the mix was all finished, we got to screen the final sound in Lucas' own private screening room called The Stag Theater. It was exhilarating to see MONSOON up on the big screen with 5.1 surround sound. What an experience, thanks Skywalker!
- (I forgot to mention that sound geniuses Randy Thom and Dennis Leonard listened to Bobby's sound design on MONSOON before we got in to see if they could give us some tips on how to make it better. But they both said the sound was practically perfect which is something they rarely see on such films. They congratulated Bobby on a job well done. Thanks Bobby!)
- Graduation time is here! Shyam and Joseph will graduate from the graduate film production program at USC on May 12, 2006. USC Alum and director John Singleton will be the keynote speaker, and family and friends will be gathering that evening to celebrate. Congrats to the grads!
- MONSOON is almost complete! As of May 8 all the music, sound, and visual effects will be locked. After months of post production we are ready to online. We're already scheduled to do our online assembly where we go back to our masters and assemble our final picture cut. From there we'll color correct the final look of the film and put in our titles. After that we'll just be waiting for an opening to do our final sound mix and layback. If all goes according to plan we should be finished by the end of the month.
- Exciting news from the sound department. It looks like we'll be doing our final sound mix at the exclusive, world renowned Skywalker Sound at Skywalker Ranch in Northern California. For those unfamiliar, it is the uber high tech post production facility created and run by our own USC alum and Star Wars creator, George Lucas. It's where the biggest films in Hollywood go to finish their sound. It is the chance of a lifetime as we will be able to work with the best sound technicians and artists in the business. Once the dates are locked we will fly up to San Francisco and spend 2 days mixing on the Ranch. Apparently we'll be penciled in right after they finish with Pirates of the Caribbean 2!
- April has been music month on MONSOON. The music team has been working overtime coming up with the melodies that will become the soundtrack of the film. We are using a combination of Western and Eastern music throughout the film which has been fun and challenging to come up with and meld together. Meanwhile work continues on our sound and visual effects. We're getting very close!
- On March 18 we had a fantastic sold out benefit to raise finishing funds for the film in Shyam's hometown, Mendocino. Spearheaded by Shanti Balsé, Alene and William Didio, and Jennifer Taylor, an Indian themed night was put together complete with a homemade Indian dinner, Indian music, and free bindis. We showed a progression of Shyam's films from before and through film school and culminated with the new trailer of MONSOON. The night ended with a slideshow of Shanti's production stills and a discussion. It was truly a great evening and the funds raised will help pay for music and our online mix. Thanks to everybody who contributed!
- Also new to the team is our Visual Effects Supervisor, Ben Shalom. A veteran of the USC Cinema-Television Animation Program who is currently working on his own animated thesis, Ben has joined the team to design some essential computer graphics for the film. But most of you won't even notice them in the film.
- As of the 14th we locked our composers! Musical scores can make or break projects so the hunt for a composer is as essential as choosing the right cast. After months of screening composer reels and talking to composers, Music Supervisor and Producer Joseph Itaya finally found the perfect candidates. Welcome aboard Robert Hawes and Eric Lindsay! Work begins immediately.
- PIX LOCK! After weeks of editing round the clock, multiple focus group screenings, and countless frustrating hours dealing with technical problems (after a series of editing station meltdowns we had to bounce around between 4 different editing systems all over LA to finish) MONSOON has officially picture locked. To those unfamiliar with the term it means we have finished editing the picture. This is a major milestone and it means the bulk of the work is behind us. But its not over yet. There are still two major components to work on: sound and music. And that's what's up next.
- This week we got the awful news of the tragic death that has befallen Kuljeet Randhawa, a wonderful, talented young actress who was very close to our very own Bhanu Uday. Many of us on MONSOON were delighted to have had the opportunity to meet her at our wrap party in December. She was a bright and promising young woman. Our hearts go out to her friends and loved ones in this time of darkness. Please know that your friends here on MONSOON are sending you our prayers.
- The hunt for composers and musicians is on. Joseph has switched out his producer's cap for the music supervisor's cap (for the time being) and he's been searching Los Angeles high and low for the right music. Music is going to be so essential to making this film work that it could essentially make or break us, so the pressure is very high. Shyam and Joseph have been listening to dozens of composer reels and have been meeting some very exciting and talented musicians around town. We should be making some decisions soon!
- After blazing through the edit at record pace we've been tripped up due to mechanical problems. Our editing system melted down and has been in the shop for over a week. Luckily we had built extra time into the post schedule to accommodate such stumbling blocks, but it looks we are going to be delayed for picture lock. We are hopeful we'll be able to catch back up during the sound edit and we'll meet our deadline to be finished by late April.
- January 28th was the big day, the first public test screening of the cut. Shyam's mother, Alene, and his sister, Shanti, flew in from Mendocino. Bob and Claire Bellanti drove in from Northridge, and about 15 other friends and colleagues gathered to see MONSOON for the first time. It was quite exciting as the lights dimmed and the title faded up. Silence for 25 minutes as everyone watched. Then immediately another 20 minutes of silence as everyone filled out questionnaires asking them their thoughts on all different aspects of the film: coherency, acting, overall enjoyment, etc. And when it was all over and the questionnaires were tallied we got a very high overall score from the focus group! People liked it quite a bit and also offered great suggestions to make it better. Now its time to head back to the editing room and work on it some more. We'll have a couple more screenings like this before its all over.
- After a grueling but exciting week of Shyam logging, digitizing, and syncing the dailies for our editor Tom Gould we are finally starting to put the pieces of the film together into a real movie. On Jan 20 in the dark of the night, Joseph and Shyam whisked away to the secret cave of our editor Tom to see the first cut. And...it is awesome! It still has a long way to go, but for a cut this early in the game it looks great. We have a real movie on our hands!
- Back in Los Angeles! The US crew arrived back in California just in time for the holidays. But the New Year has arrived and its time to get back to work. Almost immediately we began the process of transferring the film to video so we could begin editing. Joseph and Shyam spent a couple days in a darkened room during the night shift at a reputable Hollywood post house called The Post Group watching the dailies for the first time with baited breath. And low and behold...the footage looks fantastic! You are never really sure what you have until you actually see it on the screen. And we are very happy with the results. We owe it all to our fantastic crew, especially our camera team lead by the great Vineet, for doing such a great job. Thanks guys!
- It's done! After an intense 6 weeks of preproduction and 8 hard days of shooting the cast and crew of MONSOON called it a wrap. Overall it was a great success and one heck of an adventure for all involved. There were cows, trucks, rain machines, markets, busy streets, sunsets, and golden rivers all packed into what is going to be one fantastic 20 minute film. There is lots more to tell but after the holidays the website will be overhauled to reflect the 'post production' phase of the project, including information on the cast, production stills, and, once its ready, a movie trailer! So bear with us as more details will come in a few weeks. Happy Holidays and thanks to all those who have supported us!
- It took a few weeks to get a production office set up, but finally it happened. The India cell phone has been activated and the computer is online. Meetings have taken place with all the key players so far but there is still so much to do. The main order of business is casting. We were hoping to have casting completed before November but some of the actors we were in negotiations with prior to arriving in Mumbai fell through due to scheduling conflicts, and now we are back to square one. But we've scheduled more auditions starting November 4 and 5. Keep your fingers crossed.
- Shyam and Line Producer extraordinaire, Mahavir Shaktawat (of On The Road Productions based in Mumbai), met to lock the budget and lay out a plan of attack to get this film ready for production over the next 6 weeks. It will take a miracle and the help of a great many people to make it all come together but both are prepared to take on the challenge. As production costs in India are not as cheap as we had hoped we had to make some difficult cuts in our production to keep on budget. The hardest was deciding to shoot on Super 16mm film instead of 35mm. But after meeting with the DP this may actually be a blessing in disguise. Super 16mm cameras are lighter and easier to maneuver which will support our shooting style. And Super 16mm still looks fantastic, after all MONSOON WEDDING was shot on Super 16mm...done.
- On October 13 Shyam flew over off over the Pacific and landed in Mumbai 2 days later safe and sound. After a few days to adjust and get over jet lag the wheels of pre-production began to rumble to life.
- The 'US-side' pre producing continues. We're very excited to have locked in a fantastic Cinematographer, Kartik Vijay, who was trained in Los Angeles and now works in Mumbai on Bollywood features. We're also excited to have signed on 'The Maestro' Tom Gould as Editor, and 'El Jefe' Bobby Garza for Post Production Sound. We're in negotiations with some very exciting Indian talent who may sign onto the project as well.
- The clock is ticking. Shyam leaves for India to begin casting and location scouting October 13. Producer Joseph Itaya will join him in late November. And production will begin December 1, 2005. There is no turning back now!
- While the fundraising continues at a furious pace, Producer Joseph Itaya and Director Shyam Balsé are preparing to pitch the project around Hollywood to elicit the support of corporate sponsors to donate everything from airline tickets, to film stock, to post production support. Good luck guys!
- Producers are narrowing down a short list of the best of the best of potential crew to hire for the film. Meetings have taken place with cinematographers, editors, production designers and more. Although most of the decisions for the production crew will happen in India when Shyam goes back in mid October for pre-production, contracts with American talent could be inked before the end of the month.
- Shyam's scouting trip to India in June was a smashing success! After meeting and consulting with the who's who of Bollywood, and finding some spectacular locations to shoot, the initial groundwork for the film is officially laid.