Kerala cinematographer’s experience shooting a web series in Mongolia


Antony Samson during shooting in Mongolia

Antony Samson during shooting in Mongolia. Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

When cinematographer Antony Samson got the opportunity to shoot in Mongolia, he was excited. What he didn't take into account was being the only English speaker in the crew, who barely knew any English and used hand gestures to explain camera angles or lighting conditions. “To me, Mongolia meant Genghis Khan until I went there!”

The 10-episode web series he shot, murder photos (English title), directed by Dorjsuren Shadav, is streaming on Mongolian OTT platform VOO.

“There were times when I felt like quitting my job and returning home. But, I knew I would regret it if I did, so I continued with it,” says Antony, 29. Since there are no daily flights to India, it has become easy to live here. He admits that when a friend told him about a Mongolian producer, Mungunzul Amgalanbaatar, who was looking for a cinematographer from the South Indian film industry, he had no clue about what he was doing.

“Mungunjul, who is also an actor, knows director Anil Kumar. She had gone to Alappuzha with her husband Dorjasuren and met Anil Kumar. He was to direct a film with the lead role. She is familiar with South Indian films, which is probably why she wanted a cinematographer from here,” says Antony.

Antony, who studied cinematography at LV Prasad Film Institute, Chennai, has been an assistant director on films like darwinte parinamm, Sethum Aayiram Pon, thumba and bhishma festival, He is now an independent advertising filmmaker based in Bengaluru; He is in the news for his next film project as a cinematographer. “Like after being part of a movie bhishma festivalWith Mammootty, directed by Amal Neerad, and with the assistance of Anand C Chandran I felt it was time to move forward independently,” he says. murder pictures This is his first film as an independent cinematographer.

He did not set out alone, when he set out towards Ulaanbaatar he took an assistant from Chennai. “Unfortunately, after a month, he had to return home due to a family emergency. So, for about a month it was just me,” he says. Even Google Translate wasn't much help, especially on set as he had to find translations of technical terms related to filming.

“It's hard to convey camera angles without language, or rather a little bit of language. I had some reference shots saved in my phone, which I would show to the director and I would understand the idea. A student translator provided on the set was also of no help for the same reason. Russian is traditionally more commonly spoken in Mongolia than English.

He describes not being able to interact with another human being (other than a phone call) as an isolating experience. If I want to have a face-to-face conversation, it has to do with my reflection in the mirror. He further said, “There is a small Indian community in Mongolia, hardly around 1000 people. This does not mean that they did not raise any Mongolians. “Black is Mongolian for clothes.” Khar Daavu I learned this because we needed it to cover windows.”

“The experience has toughened him up,” he jokes, “now I can do anything.” Even build a rocket and go to outer space!”

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