HermyBerg: First I want to say thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Kunal. This is a wonderful opportunity.
Kunal Mehra: Pleasure's mine. Glad that it all worked out.
HermyBerg: I wanted to start by saying I think you made a really excellent film here.
A film I hope others will be able to see soon.
Kunal Mehra: Thanks! It's always nice to meet people who took a liking to the film.
HermyBerg: First I want to start broadly with how you found your lead actor Josh Boyle.
Kunal Mehra: Craigslist is the word.
Kunal Mehra: I had put up audition calls for pretty much everything - cast/crew/catering/producer - on CL and believe it or not, found pretty much 95% of the cast/crew on there.
HermyBerg: That's interesting.
Kunal Mehra: It took me a while to find the character for Philippe, though. I had it narrowed down to 3 actors and I spent quite a lot of time just informally chatting with them, trying to get a sense of how their persona in real life is like.
Josh seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
HermyBerg: I agree. And your cinematographer Aron Noll?
Kunal Mehra: Craigslist. I had put up an ad on CL a few years ago for a film that I never really made. Aron responded to that ad and even though I never made that film, we kept in touch, so when I wanted a DP for TWBWIW, I got in touch with Aron right away. Thankfully enough all the scheduling worked out and he was on board.
HermyBerg: And what camera did you shoot with?
Kunal Mehra: Panasonic DVX100. Probably more detail than you asked for, but we started shooting with dvx100a (which is what Aron owned). The next day, one of the crew members offered to lend us his brand new dvx100b (which had 16:9 anamorphic mode) for the shoot. We shot with that for a week before a freak accident happened in which a bicyclist tripped over the camera and totaled it. I paid the crew member for that camera and rented another 100b from a local store for the rest of the shoot.
HermyBerg: Now that’s a story. Ouch.
Kunal Mehra: Yeah… it was painful. Ironically, I had insurance for everything other than equipment. C'est La Vie.
HermyBerg: Smart man. So What is your background? Where did you grow up? Go to school?
Kunal Mehra: I grew up in India in a small town (Aurangabad) that's about 200 miles east of Bombay. My undergrad was in electronics and after a brief internship in Singapore, I moved to Cincinnati, Ohio for my Masters in computers in August 2000. A couple of years and some celestial alignments later, I found myself in the rainy Pacific Northwest in Portland, Oregon, working for Intel, which is where I'm working as of now.
HermyBerg: And your influential filmmakers and/or films?
Kunal Mehra: It's hard to pin influences down on any one artist since, in my opinion, the creative process is continuously being nurtured as one observes and learns, with influences and inspiration abounding all around us and seeping into our consciousness without our being necessarily conscious of it. That being said, if I had to take names: the intoxicating pessimism of Bergman, the keen insight and sheer prolificness of Fassbinder, the Zen'ism of Ozu, the surrealism of Tarkovsky, the stark and ascetic minimalism of Bresson, the fluidity and humanness of Renoir and more recently, the keen eye of Hou Hsiao-Hsien.
When it comes to films: I would definitely put Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman and Bela Tarr's Satantango as a couple of direct influences on the writing/editing of TWBWIW. Other indelible works: Fassbinder's Why does Herr R. Run Amok, Herzog's Aguirre, Bresson's Gentle Woman, Karoly Makk's Another Way, Sokhurov's Mother & Son and Confessions, Ozu's Tokyo Story, Imamura's Ballad of Narayama, Jean Vigo's L' Atalante.Read the entire interview here.