What makes Jay Mohan’s filmmaking juices flow?

My ideal film will have a strong theme, plays a lot with visual subtext and at the end, it engages me in thinking and formulating my own stories and answers from the experience I had watching it – Jay Mohan

What’s the last great film you saw recently?

1917 by Sam Mendes.

What made you make your first film?

As a person who tries to see the world through the iris of a camera, 1917 touched me deeply in telling a complete story with a proper structure in one single fluid motion from start to end. Challenging indeed. Even though there are cuts in between the takes, they are effectively hidden and the film is stitched together in a brilliant way that only an academy award winning editor like Lee Smith could accomplish. However, what stood out was the level of pre-production and planning hours spent for the movie by the great Roger Deakins and his team. This film is a case study in Pre-Production and Editing for any filmmaker. Even though I cannot pinpoint one single movie that inspired to make films, it would be fair to say that the film that gave me the best energy shot for picking up a camera was ‘Apocalypse Now’ and the brilliant filmmaking of Francis Ford Coppola. The clarity of his vision in making Godfather and Apocalypse Now is unbelievable. The true grit to fight for what he believed in against all the odds is a study in itself, especially in the case of Apocalypse Now; a movie that was married with bad luck from the day one. It was sheer determination of Mr.Coppola that made the movie possible. The BTS and stories connected with this film inspires you any single day.

Take us through ‘iResign’? What was so powerful about the idea which made you pick your camera and start shooting it?

The seeds of I Resign were couple of real life experiences my friends had in their workplaces. The pain and anguish they went through, the insulted and violated feeling just because their skin color was different left them helpless and endure it without a fight back. The stigma it had left in their lives were very deep and I thought these were the stories that the world should know. Nobody was telling them and I thought it had to be me. I wanted to tell the story of a very lonely, depressed guy who would sacrifice his own life to punish the people who were responsible. Once I started writing the script, the words started flowing and pictures became very clear.

What gets your juices flowing? Reading, watching other films – Take us through it?

Watching movies, any kind of movie, definitely inspires me so also reading books. However, the most inspiring thing that makes my juices flow is watching the great filmmakers of our time discuss movies, the ones they made or others made. The in-depth conversation of the story structure, cinematography, visual storytelling, post production etc. It brings in new idea threads into my head and I start asking myself, what would these great people do about this idea. Most of the cases, the scripts I write are the conversation each character makes within my mind. I sit somewhere and starts noting down when these ideas come in without judging them. One of the best places for ideas to come, in my case, is under the shower.

Filmmaking and making software – How does that work? Do you feel like exiting one and choosing the other?

Building a company that makes reliable software solution was my passion from my college days itself. Hence, after graduating with a computer engineering degree, it was a straight on decision to start a software company and making software. Over the last 20 years we have built a strong technology company delivering powerful solutions to our clients. This is a dream that puts food on table and I am personally so happy in making our company better every day. Filmmaking is a passion that was hidden within me for quite a long time. I am a beginner and learning every single day. The pleasure and joy filmmaking brings cannot be compared with making software. It’s a tough task to balance between these two complete diverse tracks, however with bit of planning I am able to divide a set number of hours in a day for both. Even Though it is a tough task, this would be the way ahead till one of these becomes too big and unmanageable. Fingers crossed.

Describe your ideal film?

My ideal film will have a strong theme, plays a lot with visual subtext and at the end, it engages me in thinking and formulating my own stories and answers from the experience I had watching it. This would be a film that would be paced well with proper building and releasing of pressure, something like Silence of the Lambs or There Will Be Blood. The casting should be done so well that the actors should make me feel their emotions. My ideal film would have a proper story structure that could be studied from with engaging dialogs with lot of subtext. Each frame of the film should be a painting and yet it should be the best suited cinematography which is right for that story. The sound design should be well thought out and innovative based on the theme of the film. The editing should make the film flow smoothly and leave me live with the characters in the story.

Which filmmakers, writers, actors working today do you admire the most?

David Fincher, Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Vittorio Storaro, Roger Deakins, Boon Joon-ho, Denis Villeneuve, Aaron Sorkin, Tom Hanks, Joaquin Phoenix.

You’re organising dinner. Which three people from the world of cinema – dead or alive, will you invite?

Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola.
Is there another cinema in the pipeline?
Yes. It is a story of 6 people facing their own tragedies in life caused by a single event. It is a story exploring the paradigm shift from the common rule of cinema – Show But Don’t Tell. This film is all about Tell But Don’t Show.