Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Uday Krishna, Actor/Writer: I’m from Mangalore, India – a coastal town in India. I’ve lived the most there of all the places. However, growing up we moved around cities thanks to my father’s transferable job. So one could call me a ‘transfer kid.’ Up to 5th grade, I was in the same school in Mangalore enjoying the perks of familiarity. By 10th grade I had been in 6 schools, lived in 2 big metropolitan cities (with different cultures/languages) and a residential school in the outskirts of Mangalore. After 10th grade, I like to believe I grew up on the Internet because I was so absorbed in it. A lack of sense of belonging to any specific location had creeped in by then and although I had come back to Mangalore (my hometown), the Internet and movies became my escape.
Life at home was different at various stages – our geographies changed, slight cultural adjustments had to be made from time to time. Our financial situation changed (it was always comfortable but kept getting better with time). My older sibling moved to college after 5th grade and I became more like a single child, etc. Overall it was a comfortable childhood that I’m very thankful for!
Film Courage: How would you describe yourself as a child?
Uday: Absorbed in one’s own world. I had an active imagination, was slightly shy, quite pampered, sensitive and cute (always looked younger than my age, ha ha). I was independent in several aspects, scared of ghosts and unforeseen events. Confident in few situations and not so much in others. Quite good at studies and involved in extracurricular activities related to performing arts. Stubborn and happy overall. In hindsight – very happy (but I guess it’s just me romanticizing the past).
Film Courage: How did your love for storytelling begin?
Uday: Movies and TV were always a big influence. Reading short stories was another. My parents and sister enjoyed them so I guess I picked them up. However, I remember being fully engrossed listening to my grandmother’s stories of Mahabharatha (ancient Indian classic) during summer vacations in Bantwal (a village in Karnataka, India) and those are actually my earliest memories related to storytelling. Even now, I prefer listening to and narrating stories and not writing it (of course, it’s not practical).
Film Courage: Who are your heroes?
Uday: There have been different heroes at different points in time and there’s always something to learn from every individual. I suppose I’ve outgrown most of my heroes at this point in time. The only remnants are my father and mother but I suppose that’s personal. I’d just reiterate what Matthew Mcconaughey said in one of his speeches – My hero is me 5 years down the line.
“Regardless of location, I do believe it’s best for one to focus energies on creating their content (Write, pitch – ‘The Rocky’ way) and continue auditioning until luck or lightning strikes!”
Film Courage: What’s one big question you’d like answered?
Uday: None. The spiritual texts I read have addressed a lot of those “big” questions. I have several small questions though, like the contact info of someone who can fund my next venture 🙂
Film Courage: When did you start acting?
Uday: I’ve acted in small skits since childhood. I was into dancing and singing too. As an early teenager, I’d act in short funny skits in Hindi with people in my neighborhood as we celebrated some festivals together. I’d visit Belthangady (a village in Karnataka, India) regularly during summer vacations and I remember mono-acting the local Kannada comics, standing on a big rock in front of my 2 other bored cousins and aunt/uncle. It was usually during the times of what’s called ‘power cut’ (standard hours during the day when electricity wouldn’t be made available) and we wouldn’t be able to watch TV and/or times when we were bored of other sports/games like Cricket, Ludo, Carrom, Chess, etc. They all must have been really bored or really kind or both!
Film Courage: How difficult is it to pursue acting when you don’t live in Los Angeles or New York?
Uday: The way I see it one could:
A) Start a YouTube channel and explode from anywhere (I know of a few who managed to do that);
B) Become a local go-to person for a certain type and capture the local market for those kinds of roles;
C) Create one’s own content;
D) Travel regularly to NY/LA or try to get agents. Pursuing acting is personal – one can do it within closed doors.
Assuming one has a hold on it (doesn’t have to be what any clique thinks is good), showing it to the world and marketing it is challenging and in that the systems in place in NY and LA help a lot. Internet is bridging the gap but even then the systems in place have a huge advantage. The probability of ‘making it’ is definitely higher in LA/NY but the probability of landing a role (which will do nothing much to your career other than building a resume) may actually be higher in some local markets for some niche types given that there are fewer people here. Self-motivation and building a quality team to get work done is also a challenge in other places as you find fewer people pursuing this full-time or with the same mindset or vigor as someone in LA/NY.
Regardless of location, I do believe it’s best for one to focus energies on creating their content (Write, pitch – ‘The Rocky’ way) and continue auditioning until luck or lightning strikes!
Film Courage: Where do you think your acting career will take you?
Uday: I don’t know. I hope it’ll take me to a place where I can create characters and stories that impact people positively.
Film Courage: What prompted you to write the script for your 96-second short film SOLICITUDE?
Uday: I have had this idea since the last 2-3 years. At this point in time, I’m not sure what the original trigger for that was. It’s not personal but I do consume a lot of information online and that may have seeped into my subconscious. I’ve toyed with ideas of loneliness, mental health and addiction purely from a performance standpoint. I had an idea around 1 man and addiction to the internet but that was a little abstract. This one seemed doable. The idea of someone being lonely without touching upon the reasons for it or justification for it was a key motivation. The fact that it could be shot in 1 location, done in minimal resources and I could act in it were also key motivations.
Film Courage: How long did the script take you to write?
Uday: Truth be told. I did not ‘write’ the script. I narrated it. I just wrote a half a page email down and explained it to Christina Perez (the Director, DOP, Editor and background music), Emmanuel Vega, the cinematographer, Sound and Lights) came on board and it was narrated to him on the day of the shoot in the location. I had worked with them on their short films and they were just helping me out. I’m not sure if they really liked the idea as much but they gave it their best. It was a great collaborative effort. They got what I was explaining, asked the right questions to get more out of me (the mood, vibe etc) and they were the ones who were really able to translate it on-camera to achieve the intended effect.
Film Courage: How did you calculate what the budget was going to be and what was it?
Uday: Christina and Emmanuel were not paid for this project. I offered them Uber rides but they politely declined. I got some nuts and protein bars to eat and after the shoot, took them to Cava for dinner. That’s all! They had the equipment so that was taken care of too. I really have to thank them for doing this.
The location is basically the club house of the community where I used to stay. So that was free too.
Christina did all the hard work of the post-prod too, like a volunteer for a cause. I even asked for revisions in edits and background music and she obliged. She’s awesome, please do reach out to her for your creative work or otherwise.
A lot of money is being spent now for marketing and to submit it to film festivals.
Film Courage: Did you write it with yourself in mind as the main actor?
Film Courage: How many people did you share the script with during the writing process?
Uday: I shared the idea with several people over the period of 2-3 years. Their feedback was that ‘it’s good’ but many didn’t see it to be as powerful in terms of impact as much as I did. They heard the idea as a story and perhaps didn’t visualize it that much or visualized it differently. In my head stories are in visuals and they come with the right camera angles and background music, so I was sold on it.
Film Courage: Was a one-day film shoot easier or more difficult than you initially thought?
Uday: It was really smooth and easy. All credit to Christina Perez and Emmanuel Vega. They know how to execute without panicking and without sacrificing creativity and they make no fuss about it.
Film Courage: How long did SOLICITUDE take to edit?
Uday: Christina Perez did the edit. I’m sure she spent several hours on it and we had at least 3 revisions. She was busy with other projects, life and the COVID situation and so it took days for her to get to the editing of the project.
Film Courage: What camera(s) did you use?
Uday: We used the camera that they had. I let Emmanuel and Christina make that choice. It’s their department and I didn’t want to interfere with their creative expression.
Film Courage: Is there anything you haven’t shared yet, that you wish you knew before you made this movie?
Uday: There were several learnings from this project. The importance of background music for example. I provided Interstellar’s background music as a reference and Christina did an awesome job of that by revising the version she originally had in one of the edits. The importance of marketing is something I’m learning. Fortunately, I feel very comfortable self-promoting this video because I genuinely think we have a very good short film from a cinematic standpoint and of course there’s a good message. I’m also learning that with the right team and energies aligned one can do a lot of good stuff, pretty quickly and easily. Lastly, Christina and Emmanuel couldn’t be part of this interview because they are focusing their energies 100% on the Black Lives Matter volunteering.
Film Courage: Where is SOLICITUDE currently available to watch?
Film Courage: Are you also submitting SOLICITUDE to festivals?
Uday: Yes, I am submitting it to festivals. There aren’t any plans for distribution but I’m open to share the file with anyone who’s willing to share it to their subscriber base or network. I’ll do it for free. It’s a short film with a good message and can be understood by non-English speakers too so I hope the message spreads, especially in these challenging times.
Film Courage: What do you want audiences to gain from watching SOLICITUDE?
Uday: Nothing. I just want them to watch it. The art will hopefully tell them what they need to gain or lose.
Film Courage: In the past few years as suicide has increased, what have you noticed in the patterns? Does one age or income demographic seem to be more prone? Gender, lifestyle, etc?
Uday: I’m not a subject matter expert on this and I’d refrain from throwing an opinion or making an interpretation of an observation or metric without looking at the data holistically and qualitatively. That being said, our film does provide the helplines and website info (something Christina insisted should be there in any short film related to suicide). So I encourage people to visit there and educate themselves and their network about it.
Film Courage: Why do you think popular culture has romanticized suicide (such as The 27 Club, etc.)?
Uday: As human beings we like to connect dots and concoct stories. So one reason is that. And another reason is that most people don’t understand statistical concepts so it’s an easy sell, especially with the shock value associated with it. If that romanticism leads to something positive in terms of awareness, I think it’s good.
Film Courage: Has anyone reached out to you after watching the movie?
Uday: In terms of appreciation – yes. I got messages from people in the medical field, people who knew someone who had committed suicide and few aspiring filmmakers/actors who watched it. Almost everyone who watched it has loved it. However, not many have watched it.
In terms of future work – No.
Film Courage: Where do you develop your best ideas?
Uday: Walking, while taking shower, locked in a room and just walking around and talking to myself and while meditating.
Film Courage Quote or mantra that you live by?
Uday: This is an actual mantra by the way (it’s in Sanskrit and from Bhagavad Gita):
Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhur Ma Te Sango Stv Akarmani
You have every right to work but not expecting the fruits out of it. Let the focus be not on the fruits and never be inactive.
Film Courage: What’s next for you creatively?
Uday: I’m working on 2 feature length scripts – The Monk and another story where the lead character is a teenager with autism. I have several ideas in the backburner so I can always pick up something to work on. I’m also open to acting gigs so if anything interesting comes along that always takes a higher priority.
Watch SOLICITUDE on Youtube here
BIO: Uday Krishna is an actor and writer. He has acted in plays, short films, student short films (NYFA, Art Institute of Washington DC), commercials and industrials. He has written and directed one act plays in amateur theatre in the DC area and will be having five of his short play scripts performed by another group in Canada. He also actively volunteered in different creative projects (and is a Sundance Volunteer). He is currently working on a feature film script and is looking for collaborators and investors.
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In Jason Innocent’s independent documentary film Masculinity he interviews both men and women as they give their thoughts on assumptions, and pressures of being a man. Masculinity covers what it means to be a man today, female masculinity, toxic masculinity, and the pressures of society on the definition of manliness.
Solicitude – A crisp, cinematic 96-second short film on mental health (depression, loneliness, suicide) and what each one of us could do to CHANGE it. In times of quarantine and remote work, mental health has become essential. Writer/actor Uday Krishna’s Solicitude spotlights mental health, depression, and suicide with a positive ending on how all of us can improve within our own network. Uday along with Christina Perez (the director, editor, background score) and Emmanuel Vega (DOP, Lights) shot this short in three hours using one location.