Despite the Gods – Penny Vozniak, Australia

 

I’m not the only one who was seeing Despite The Gods for the first time last night, the film’s subjects Jennifer Lynch, daughter of David, and her own daughter, Sydney got to see it as well.

Chronicling her efforts in India to make a film that would be a cross between Hollywood and Bollywood, a horror, comedy, action, with a musical number it is insanity inducing as Jennifer, who has some facial expressions akin to her father, comes up against cultural divides and ass-hat producers that conspire to destroy her and her film.

Accompanied by her young daughter Sydney, Jennifer relocates to India to helm her third picture, hot off the success of her film Surveillance. She is met by a world that works in a way she’s completely unused to, coming from L.A. and before the film even starts shooting, she’s already falling behind.

She also learns that safety concerns on a shoot aren’t at the top of their lists, as her crew believe in Karmic destiny. If someone, a stuntman say, dies on set, that’s ok. It should be celebrated in fact as they will be reincarnated.

Jennifer tries to take all of this in stride, as she tries to tell her tale of a snake who becomes a woman (the amazing-looking Mallika Sherawat) who becomes a snake. Yes, you read that right.

She can’t get a call sheet made, she has the producer from hell making decisions for her that conflict with her own artistic choices as well as demanding her to shoot more quickly and resentful of Sydney being on the set all the time.

The crew don’t want to work until 7, they think 6 is better, but they insist on starting later, and taking tea. These schedules cripple her. Then she bumps up against the cultural beliefs of the world, the sacrilege of using the left hand, and the standing of women in Indian society.

Things spiral out of control, she can’t possibly win.

She can’t shoot on location as mobs arrive whenever Mallika is on set, storms wash out sets, her crew litters, and her producer keeps undercutting her whenever he can.

I love a good behind the scenes doc, and this one is amazing. I love to see and hear stories about what goes on behind the camera, and in this case, the story behind the film, is probably better than the hack cut the producers released of Hisss. You’ll laugh and you’ll shake your head as you feel Jennifer’s frustration.

Apparently the film has been released, completely recut from the film she submitted (which was deemed too European and too sensual) and Jennifer has tried to distance herself from it, mush like her father did with Dune.

You can see Despite The Gods Monday April 30 at 1:30pm at the Cumberland and Saturday May 5 at 9:30pm at Innis.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. haha. I strongly suggest people who want to shoot a movie in India to first go and spend a few months there. Once you understand how India works you simply adjust. Second step. Nobody wants to listen to a foreigner, what’s more, a woman. Find trustworthy people, explain to them what you want and let them handle the crew. Frustration or the whip doesn’t work. Find ways to motivate the crew to get things done in a timely manner. Money is a good incentive. Learn some rudimentary hindi before you start shooting. learn every single curse so that you know who does and who doesn’t like you. also it shows you put in some effort to understand them. Be polite and show interest in the people you work with. Find out about their troubles, get invited to their homes. Indians are the most gracious and lovable hosts on the planet. I think Jennifer didn’t do her homework. 🙂

    1. TD Rideout says:

      Well, she did do some of those things, but she came in with a different style of work ethic. And she actually says that everyone is nice and gracious but using a Hollywood style shoot schedule apparently just doesn’t apply to Bollywood productions.
      I felt sorry for her production but it did nothing to alleviate my desire to see India at some point in my future 🙂

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