Ravi thought he had it all figured out. The night of his proposal to Rekha was set to be perfect. When suddenly things take a wild turn - in the most unexpected way at the most inopportune time. Finding the right words is one thing. Proving it with actions is something else entirely. A string of high profile jewelry store heists has kept authorities baffled. A break leads Police to a pair of suspects: two couples, two well-laid plans. For one, the biggest obstacle will come at the worst possible time.
Putting it all on screen posed an entirely new set of challenges. Although action and romance may appear to be an unlikely pairing, we’ve had many unique opportunities to explore the ways genre conventions and narrative fiction can enhance documentary storytelling and were excited to take a leap into the action genre with our latest film, “FLAWLESS.” The all-DSLR, Canon 5D Mark II production spanned four nights in Los Angeles and included the use of a process trailer and Porsche Cayenne with Gemini crane furnished by Camera Car Industries. Amazingly realistic picture vehicles were provided byPicture Car Warehouse. Shooting a police chase on-location with world class stunt drivers under the supervision of stunt coordinator Gianni Biasetti was one of many highlights, as was staging a full-blown heist of the gorgeous Stuart Moore in Fashion Island.
Pacific Pictures presents “FLAWLESS”
Starring Ravi Gandhi, Rekha Velisetty, Kavi Ladnier & Roger Narayan
Written & Directed by Kevin Shahinian
Produced by Kevin Shahinian & Snehal Patel
Director of Photography Kevin Shahinian
2nd Unit Director Snehal Patel
Gaffer Tom Myrdahl
Key Grip Jefferson Miller
Sound Recordist Christopher Wilson
Glidecam operator Alex Sax
Film Editor Kevin Shahinian
Stunt Coordinator Gianni Biasetti
Wardrobe Kristen Anthony
Makeup & Hair Kurumi Uchino
Cameras: Canon 5D Mark II
Canon EOS L-series lenses
Additional equipment furnished by Cinevate & Glidecam.
Pushing the boundaries and exploring unexpected genres, particularly the suspense-thriller, were the cornerstones of heightening the romance and emotional drama in one of our early concept films, “Snow.” But when we heard the length’s Ravi went through to make the night of his proposal to Rekha absolutely perfect, and the way more than a few things didn’t go to plan, I knew we had the framework for an all-out action-romance film on our hands. The ambitious production would bring the relatively conservative east coast natives to the west coast to shoot on-location in Los Angeles; a surprise spectacular set to debut at their two-day South Asian wedding in Miami, FL. It’s not everyday a couple get to star in their very own action film and it’s not often we get to close down streets and use some pretty amazing toys to bring such a large scale vision to life. The process trailer and Porsche Cayenne chase car with Gemini crane pictured above (recently used in “The Dark Knight” and “Transformers” movies) were among the many highlights.
Ami & Sidd arrived in California by way of Boston just days before their epic week of South Asian wedding celebrations. Friends and family arrived from all over the world to participate in the festivities, nearly one year in the making. The fall coast, overlooked by Pelican Hill in Newport Beach and The Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, could not have served as more perfect backdrops for the auspicious occasion. The stage was set with stunning decor and event design by Pink Rock Events, makeup by Jeannie Jeffries, and an all-star photography team of Dina Douglass, Yoshi Morimoto and Robert Evans. But it was Ami & Sidd’s infectious joy, the true love they share for one another, and their families’ reverence for the timeless traditions of a Hindu wedding that made it easy to celebrate their incredible 2-day event in this very special same-day-edit, which we premiered at their reception. Assisted by Drew Renner and Matt Mangham.
When Sameepa’s sister, Preeti Shah, creator of Spotlight Style & the Shaadi Studio, first contacted us to capture her sister’s South Asian wedding celebration in New York city, I was humbled by the invitation and knew this would be an opportunity to create something special. Little did I realize that spending the day with Sameepa and Beeren would leave such an impression. Rarely does a couple come along with such grace and tenderness. Sameepa & Beeren’s gorgeous Hindu wedding, held at espace, in the heart of the theater district in midtown Manhattan, is among the most beautiful we’ve had the privilege to capture. And that is due in no small part to the true love these two share for one another. We hope you enjoy their trailer. Assisted by Adam Forgione and Anthony Quintano
Does it still exist somewhere, in some ethereal place, waiting to come to fruition again?
Could a fictional narrative capture an emotional state, and the true meaning behind a real, live event with more drama and conviction than a traditional documentary?
These were just some of the questions that arose when I took on the “CITY OF LAKES” project late last year. First, it would become an unprecedented attempt to combine a fully scripted, produced film with a real, live wedding (central to the plot) into one, seamless film. Second, the live wedding and production would be shot entirely on-location in Udaipur, India over a period of nine days. Third, the skeleton crew I would commission would be made up solely of live event filmmakers from across North America, who would shoot the live wedding events and production simultaneously & exclusively on DSLRs, the Canon 5D MarkII and Canon 7D.
The project would require a leap of faith first from Chicago natives, Melissa & Samir, who initially invited me to document their three-day destination wedding in Udaipur, India, while simultaneously considering a Bollywood concept they hoped to premiere at their reception. I quickly realized no concept film could rival the fairy tale wedding they had planned. So after pitching the idea to combine a scripted concept with their wedding film to produce a much more meaningful ‘hybrid’ feature, they deliberated, and finally took the leap. For that, I can’t thank them enough. It then took a leap of faith from my DP & Co-producer Patrick Moreau, who was skeptical, but eager, followed by talented wedding filmmakers Joe Simon & Casey Warren. Rounding out our team was my jib operator, Chris Geiger, Amish Solanki, and Mumbai-based super-producer, Pravin Thakur; a true miracle worker.
“CITY OF LAKES” is as much a documentary about what it means to return to the birthplace of one’s ancestors, as it is an exploration of the Hindu faith, and the rituals of a Hindu marriage. Central to this is the Ganesh puja, which in simple terms, is a prayer over a fire believed to invoke the spirit of Ganesh, a great deity and protector, who can remove all obstacles from one’s path. The puja is performed several times in the film and carries great significance to the plot and characters in both literal and metaphoric ways.
Melissa & Samir had always dreamed of being married in India. We hope this film helps them cherish that dream. But it could not have been without the acting talents of Anubhab Saha, Sharon Chawda and Rushad Rana, who were consummate professionals and a joy to work with. It also could not have been without the support of our sponsors: Canon, who provided two pre-production 7Ds and a host of L-series lenses; Tiffen, who provided all of our lighting; and Cinevate, who sent us much needed gear and sponsored an incredible behind-the-scenes campaign viewable at Cinevate.com.
The challenges were immediate, abundant and frequent. At times, we were certain the film was destined for failure; I wondered if the film was too ambitious to execute. It took the perseverance of filmmakers who deal routinely in making the spontaneous appear staged and constant script re-writes to adjust to the obstacles.
You won’t find many studios ready or willing to post a full length edit or main feature online for anyone to see; and for good reason. Event films are documentaries meant mainly for the people who lived them. But it’s with pride that we share Melissa & Samir’s ‘hybrid’ feature, “CITY OF LAKES,” which hopefully achieves more than a documentary, and perhaps at the same time, more than a scripted film.
There is a final question we hope you’ll find difficult to answer as you watch our film. In more ways than one, try to answer:
What is real?
Thanks for watching,
Pacific Pictures presents “CITY OF LAKES”
Starring Melissa Kumar, Samir Shah, Anubhab Saha, Sharon Chawda & Rushad Rana
Written & Directed by Kevin Shahinian
Produced by Kevin Shahinian & Patrick Moreau
Line Producer Pravin Thakur
Director of Photography Patrick Moreau
2nd Unit Director Joe Simon
2nd Unit Steadicam Casey Warren
Film Editor Kevin Shahinian
Jib Operator Chris Geiger
Set Photographer Amish Solanki