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Slumdog Millionaire

Interview Transcript

1) In the B roll footage we see camera operators on skateboards filming some of the street scenes. What is the relationship between the technology, and the challenges presented by Mumbai as a location?

Danny: Well the restrictions to do with Mumbai are really to do with how busy it is with people. There’s twenty million people living in quite a small place and that is a lot of people. But also the way that they accommodate so many people in such a small city, because geographically it is quite small, is a lot of people. Half of those people live in slums and the slum areas are actually very narrow and very densely populated and very ‘higgledy piggledy’. So we tried to…we initially set out with a film camera shooting there but it wasn’t right really. It was too inflexible really. They’re quite big there, the cameras that you hire and they also come with a lot of baggage, in the sense that they come with a lot of crew attached to them. So, for instance, there’s no insurance on film cameras that you get. You can’t insure a film camera which can be worth £50,000. You can’t insure it, so what they do is they send three boys with it, who are just three young men – teenagers - who just sleep with the camera in shifts, literally chained to the camera so if anybody tries to steal it, they’ll have to steal this kid as well. So you get this whole baggage with it plus the fact that people love the movies there and when they see a big film camera they think there’s going to be a big Bollywood star and a kind of hysteria of love begins, which is no help to you making a film. So what we did is, we used these digital cameras which have a big…they’re much more flexible for use in small spaces. So, for instance, chasing through the slums and things like that, people don’t quite know what’s going on because they don’t look like cameras. So they think, well it’s not proper filming anyway, there are no big stars around so they leave you alone and get on with their lives because it’s a very busy place Mumbai. Everybody has got a lot to do all the time but will stop for a major Bollywood film star, but for a small digital camera, no they’ve got more important things to be getting on with so that played into our hands and allowed us to film there a lot more successfully. Then you use whatever you can to move these digital cameras. You put the cameraman on roller-skates, skateboards, in a car, on the back of a bicycle, anything really. It had a little stabiliser on it so you can actually go pretty much anywhere with it really and use anything to get you from one place to another. There was one sequence where they jump off a building. They just jump off the tops of one of the slums and we had them all falling onto cardboard boxes, but the kids jumped off which they thought was great fun, jumping up into the cardboard boxes like old-fashioned stunt men but the cameraman jumps off as well at the same time, pointing the camera at them. So they’re all up in the air at the same time and you just cut out the bit where they hit the boxes but the cameras are really flexible, you can do that, you know.