Ironically, films Were Never Part Of Childhood Says Film Maker Richa.
Richa is an NYC-based filmmaker. Films were not a big part of Richa’s childhood growing up in India, but it wasn’t until pursuing a statistics graduate degree in the U.S that she discovered independent and foreign cinema and fell in love with the medium. She wrote & directed the award-winning short film “Taaza Khoon” (Fresh Blood).The film Taaza Khoon has won 5 awards and screened at 18 festivals across the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, and India.
She also wrote & directed a one-act Off-Broadway play, “Ferment”, which qualified as a semi-finalist in the 2017 New York New Works Theater festival.
She has trained with The Barrow Group, Independent Film School, and New York Film Academy. She’s a proud member of Filmshop’s Sandbox Directing Lab, FilmmakerHers, NYWIFT, NYC Women Filmmakers and South Asian Film Collective.
A storyteller at heart, Richa likes to view the world through a sociological lens and tell tales of courage. In a interview, Richa shares her experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself?
RR: I grew up in India never thinking I’d ever been interested in films. I studied statistics and got into a career in risk management and then filmmaking just happened organically somewhere along the way. I’ve now made a short film, directed an Off-Broadway play, written several screenplays and acted in some short films and Off-Broadway plays. Life can be full of surprises! I love the NYC artistic
community and how they’ve helped me on this journey.
What was the first horror movie you have ever watched and what do you like most about it?
RR: I can’t remember the first horror film I watched but I do recall the Zee Horror Show as one of the first shows I watched which had a horror theme. The creepy, suspenseful music was what I loved about it the most, it used to scare and excite me so much that the hair would stand on the back of my neck whenever I even so much as thought about that melody.
How did you come up with the name Taaza Khoon?
RR: I wanted to tell the story of a girl who seemed vulnerable but wanted to take control of her own life. I also wanted to show her as vulnerable in more ways than one, so that’s where the idea of her being food for a vampire made sense. She was also a survivor of sex-trafficking so the title “taaza khoon” made sense for many reasons.
What inspired the making of the film and the plot of the film?
RR: I watched a beautiful vampire film “Only Lovers Left Alive” by Jim Jarmusch which left me wondering why I’d never come across a brown/South Asian vampire film before. I even researched it and realized there didn’t seem to be any such films. Then out of curiosity, I decided to try to write a story about a day in the life of a brown vampire in a big city like New York. And this is the film I ended up to.
What was the most challenging part of the whole entire process of making a film as a woman?
RR: I think since this was my first film and I didn’t have a big portfolio of work under my belt, it was challenging enough already to get people to believe in me and come on board. I’m not sure how much more challenging it was given that I’m a woman, but ultimately I think what matters is a good script and how you treat people. I was lucky to have ended up with a really talented group of people who believed in the story, my vision and agreed to take a chance on me. Once we had the cast & crew on
board and were shooting on set, the biggest challenge was the brutal weather since over 80% of the film was shot outdoors. We got near-freezing temperatures, high winds and rain during the weekend we shot the film.
As being a female yourself, how did you manage to direct the film that involves serious subject like sex trafficking?
RR: RR: I think it’s precise because I’m a woman that it’s easier for me to empathize with those women who have had to suffer horrific abuses. Growing up in India I was no stranger to the insufferable and pervasive nature of the sexual violence faced by women. So a story like this flowed quite easily out of me. I’m not deliberately trying to tell “serious” or “dark” stories, I’m just trying to be true to the types of stories that want to come out of me. I find sexual violence against women horrific, that’s why I made a horror film about it. I also feel that making art about something painful can help to heal you.