A producer, scriptwriter and a production designer—Dr Rachel Singh dons many hats while working on a film. A part of Dreamz Productions—the production house that has brought movies such as Urban Turban and Twisted Families—Singh started her journey in the television industry and then moved on to capture the silver screen. Indian Weekender spoke to Singh to find out more about her passion for stories and her latest film.
IWK: A producer, writer, and production designer; how do you manage to juggle the different roles?
Rachel: It's not easy but I am passionate. Earlier, I only produced movies but with each film, my role has become bigger and bigger. New Zealand is a young country (related to feature films) and many may not understand feature film creative and related production requirements. I’ve spent more of my time over and above writing–producing and so production designing came naturally.
IWK: What inspired you to venture into film-making?
Rachel: Initially, we were only in TV production. In fact, if you can think of a TV show, most likely I would have worked on it. But there came a time when I felt that I need to push my boundaries beyond television. I had the support of my team and so I took the plunge. The silver screen was where I found more satisfaction and joy and now I love every moment of it.
IWK: Comedy seems to be the common thread binding all your productions. Any particular reason for choosing comedy over other genres?
Rachel: I love comedy, which is the most difficult genre. For me, until I get challenged and I push myself, it's not exciting. Therefore see myself writing rom-com, bromance, thrillers, and suspense all with one common factor—comedy.
IWK: As a scriptwriter, what according to you is the most important aspect of character building?
Rachel: Most of my stories are inspired by some event and generally from real-life situations. This helps me to ponder, question, reason, and challenge my thoughts that not only leads to developing the concept but also helps me with building my characters who drive the story forward. So being organic and keeping it true, simple, and real are some of the ways I adopt in building my characters.
IWK: What is the most difficult and the most enjoyable part of being in the film industry?
Rachel: Most difficult by far is trying to sell the film to distributors with no known or famous blockbuster names. Especially with the traditional Indian audience, it's the star power that generally becomes the driving force no matter how well a film is made. But fortunately, with the younger generation that has now changed. It's the younger generation that in many ways come across as a more matured audience who are open-minded and look for good content, something they can relate to and that for film-makers such as is a saving grace. Today, the younger generation is smart and aware. I truly enjoy this part of reaching out to the growing pool of younger minds. Also, seeing my writing and characters come alive on the big screen is truly thrilling.
IWK: What do you think the audience will take away from Feeling Lucky?
Rachel: As much as this film is an all-out comedy, it has a jaw-dropping suspense. And the credit goes to the director who has been so smart and secretly successful in keeping that suspense a real suspense from all the cast and crew who are eager to find out. Now you might ask me how the suspense has been kept a secret? I have no clue myself. Let's put it this way—it's an art that Devesh has mastered. The audience is in for a real shock that is not common in a laugh out loud comedy. The director has done a great job with his team with Feeling Lucky. It is a truly awesome film that brings the best out of the cast, new and old alike. I can say for sure to watch out for the release date and measure the film. Its content and production sit at par with any other film out there.
IWK: Any advice/suggestion for the young talent who are just starting out?
Rachel: Films are difficult to come by (particularly in New Zealand), and I have seen what happens in the industry. But if you have a dream to be a part of films, whether as an actor, writer, musician, or any other department (creative or technical),you must know it's a long road ahead with a roller coaster ride. However, if you are willing to take the challenge, then go for it, as nothing is impossible. It is a matter of patience, being focused, and persistent. Also, it is what and who you surround yourself with, and who you allow to enter into your space. Sometimes that may determine the road you travel and the life you live.
IWK: As a Kiwi-Indian, how do you think the two different cultures have influenced/helped you with your work?
Rachel: It has given me a lot of advantage knowing the two dynamically different cultures, and it is fun exploring them and bringing them together through my films. It's indeed a thrill and sometimes a challenge.