Indian filmmaker’s American dream

DC | ADITI PANCHOLI
Published Sep 7, 2014, 7:11 am IST
Updated Jan 10, 2016, 8:38 am IST
All filmmakers can now compete in world cinema and as long as your story touches the heart, you have a winner
Indo-American filmmaker Param Gill came to United States penniless, but with his storytelling abilities, he soon figured out a way to live his dream of making films. His Bollywood film Death of Amar will release shortly
 Indo-American filmmaker Param Gill came to United States penniless, but with his storytelling abilities, he soon figured out a way to live his dream of making films. His Bollywood film Death of Amar will release shortly

He is the first director  to have the world premiere of his Hollywood film Last Supper and Bollywood film DOA: Death of Amar over the same weekend at the prestigious San Francisco Global Movie Festival recently. Meet American film director and writer of Indian origin, Param Gill, who has won multiple awards including the best director award at the San Francisco Global Movie Festival.

Asked what he will do with the cash prize of $100,000, he says, “I live and breathe films. I will just make another movie with the cash prize.” Hailing from a small town in Punjab, Gill was penniless when he went to United States in 2001. He worked nights at a gas station in New Jersey and moved on to start a dental practice in Northern California. “Dental treatment is a very stressful moment for most patients. I would distract them with my stories and get the work done. Soon I became popular as the ‘story-telling dentist’. Eventually, you want those stories told on bigger platforms to have a wider mass appeal. That led me to a diploma at New York Film Academy and the journey started,” he shares.

 

It is one thing to make a movie in Hollywood, it is entirely a different process for Hollywood to take notice and appreciate your art, feels the director.

“I have been very lucky. All my films have made it to theatres in North America and got me significant attention. This led to A-list Hollywood actors like Eddie Griffin agreeing to work with me. So it has been an interesting journey so far. And now I have made a film in Bollywood, which connects me with my roots. I would love to do more work in India, I love coming here and interacting with the film fraternity,” he puts forth.

His much cherished Bollywood project, DOA: Death of Amar, is a fast paced thriller about a struggling actor, who is poisoned and has few hours to live and he must find out who killed him and why. “It is like solving your own murder mystery with a heavy dose of suspense. This is one of the finest performance by actor Rajeev Khandelwal,” says Gill.

The director faced a ‘reel meets real’ moment while shooting DOA. He shares, “The title of the film was changed after a horrific accident on the sets. While shooting a chase sequence, the rigged vehicle driven by Rajeev collided with a truck carrying the camera equipment. Both the vehicles were zooming at high speed for the action shot when the collision took place. Rajeev escaped unhurt, but the camera crew was badly injured. We changed the title of the film to Death of Amar from Amar Must Die to motivate the crew and it was smooth sailing after that.”

With all of the success that Gill has been enjoying in the West, and making his own niche in both the film industries, he says, “I feel the world is a melting pot of cultures, race and religions. All filmmakers can now compete in world cinema and as long as the story touches the heart, you have a winner.”

Gill is thrilled to have worked with American actor and comedians Eddie Griffin and Josh Meyers for his Hollywood project, Last Supper, “It is a black dramedy (drama + comedy) and a story of two lunatics and a prostitute becoming overnight sensations on YouTube as the story progresses and comes packed with social message — one of the reasons why the film is picking so much traction in United States even before its Thanksgiving release,” shares the director, who has been flooded with interview requests from the American media, especially after the film swept the San Francisco Global Movie Festival with wins in five categories including Best Director for Gill.

The director has also penned a yet-to-be-released book How To Lose a Million Dollars And Not Lose Your Smile. “It is a step-by-step guide to independent filmmaking in Hollywood and ways to get attention of the big studios,” he concludes.

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