“Be honest and hard working. The rest flows naturally.”
Arkus, whose short film ‘Homecoming’, entered the top 3 films at the Happiness Films Awards 2018, is a UAE- based filmmaker and an alumnus of New York Film Academy, Abu Dhabi pursuing all forms of film-making; narrative, documentary, animation and experimental. I had the opportunity to interview Arkus, who was kind enough to take me through the process of creating ‘Homecoming’.
NAMITA: A cinematic poem – it was an interesting idea and the only one of its kind at the awards. What made you choose poetry as a means of communication?
ARKUS: ‘Homecoming’ is a cinematic poem visually expressed through miniature models. Through poetry (because of its fluid form) a lot can be conveyed creatively in a short span of time. So right now, when you look at the film, it stands out from the rest however when we started out, poetry was rather used because of the time constraint.
NAMITA: What did you want the audience to take away from your short film ‘Homecoming’?
ARKUS: We wanted to offer the viewers a unique experience and form their own definition of happiness.
NAMITA: How would you re-define the term ‘Happiness’?
ARKUS: Often people mistakenly define and measure happiness based on their material success. Hence, we come across personalities who maintain a great standard of living but are unhappy within. It is therefore essential that we positively re-define success as a product of happiness. In our film ‘Homecoming’, we have presented our strong unwavering belief that success should be measured by happiness and not the other way around.
NAMITA: Could you give us a little insight on the process behind making ‘Homecoming’ – coming up with the concept, the poetry, the filming, etc.?
ARKUS: We came across a quote online (we don’t know who it belongs to) which was the genesis of the story – “Some people are so poor that the only thing that they have is money whereas some people are so rich that the only thing they possess is happiness”
The location is The Living Room Café – Abu Dhabi, they have been creating a Christmas village using miniature models consistently for many years now, that is where we shot the film. Art Direction and lighting is by Simone Youlten – she is the owner of The Living Room Cafe and takes care of setting up the Christmas village.
The script is written by Gargi Chakrabarti, she was the first person to envision a small project could be made using the visuals of the setup. The film is superbly narrated by Jaffar Mahmoud while Afnan Alqasimi graciously agreed to do the Arabic subtitles. Jaffar and Afnan are my fellow batch mates from Arab Film Studio’s Scriptwriting program, so I could pester them a little.
Jaffer Shadiq is the director of photography who shot the film amazingly and poured his heart out and Ravi Robinson Harry is the music director who captured the soul of the film through his sounds and music. Jaffer and Rob have been my constant collaborators and companions over the years on many projects, irrespective of their outcomes.
So, all the love, adulation and success of the ‘Homecoming’ belongs to the entire team.
NAMITA: What brings Arkus happiness?
ARKUS: Home. There is an awesome quote by George A. Morre “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”
NAMITA: Coming up with concepts that are, both, original and yet, creative is not easy. What advice would you like to give aspiring filmmakers that face this difficulty?
ARKUS: Be honest and hard working. The rest flows naturally.
NAMITA: Lastly, what can we expect next from Arkus?
ARKUS: There are a few exciting projects in the pipeline but I am not allowed to spill the beans however everyone will surely come to know when something big happens.
Watch Arkus’s short film, ‘Homecoming’: