Meeting with a Technological Fortune Teller

Prof. Karl Bardosh New York University (NYU), the internationally recognized Father of Cell Phone Cinema

Over 30 years of professional experience in Europe, Asia, Brazil, Hollywood and New York in all genres of film and television, Prof. Karl Bardosh of New York University has been an award-winning director, producer, writer, editor of features, shorts, television series and documentaries. He had initiated the world’s first network television educational series on the Aesthetics of Film (Hungary, 1967).

He has also, pioneered a new genre, Poetry Music Videos, with Allen Ginsberg (USA, 1984), and had written, directed and edited the first American documentary on Bollywood and Indian Parallel Cinema for the American Public Broadcasting System (Bombay, 1992) that was run in prime time for three years. Prof. Bardosh has also pioneered Cell Phone Cinema in India, in co-production with Executive Director, Sandeep Marwah, at the Asian Academy of Film and Television. In an exclusive interview he shares his thoughts with Abhijit Ganguly.

You have been a trendsetter in many ways. What new trends do you foresee in TV and entertainment content?

The audience has less patience to sit in front of a TV set and only looks at programmes that are preset for them by the “gatekeepers”. Due to the presence of the second screens (mobiles) they want to see whatever they want, wherever they want and in whatever order they want to receive content. That means an internet approach and in fact there is a great trend of integration between Internet and Television screens and programming. Due to the popularity of games there will be an increase of interactivity as well as leading to polyphonic narrative structures, meaning that there will be multiple plot lines subject to interaction with the audience. This will not eliminate traditional storytelling but will augment it increasingly.

To what extent does the interfacing of TV with the Internet, impact the kind of documentaries that are being made?

User generated content on social media and mobile have already increased the scope of documentaries especially in terms of citizen journalism. There have been numerous occasions where television professionals could not get access to important events and the only source of audiovisual information for television networks had to come from citizens' mobile devices using internet or cell phone delivery.

Do you think the costs and access to audience have increased with this move from studio-based productions to indie and self-generated productions? Has this allowed for more freedom in creating content?

My new course at New York University is called No Excuses Cinema: Microbudget Features and my new mini-studio Fresh Start Films financed by MlT Holdings are aimed at giving young filmmakers a chance to make their first features right upon graduating from film school where they mostly make short films only. Microbudget feature films can be the new calling cards for young filmmakers. They can also be artistic or commercial breakthroughs. Think of Paranormal Activity that was made for about USDl2,000, yes, twelve thousand dollars and with its sequels ended up making around USD 500 million. There are other examples as well. The issue is no longer how to make a film, as due to new technologies there is no excuse not to make a film, but the key issue is still distribution. New distribution means that filmmakers must research and shape their contents to a niche core audience at least. None of these will affect the great commercial spectacles for general audience, only increase the chances for independent filmmakers for “parallel cinema.”

Could you elaborate on multi-camera live broadcast? What is it and what is its potential for use and growth?

Scripted multi-camera live broadcasts have been on the decline for many years. I still remember that I used to work on teleplays decades ago staged for multi-cameras, and televised live. Multi- camera live broadcast is most essential in sports, news and major events like parades, national holiday ceremonies, etc. The question of multi-camera live coverage versus recorded and edited shows is really a question of control. When you have control over an event like staging scenes with actors in films, you repeat takes on single camera until perfect control over the shot and the scene.

In sports or on other occasions where you do not have control over the event you need multiple cameras for trying to cover the event live that runs on its own schedule.

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