Filmmaker Friday Featuring Filmmaker Anup Kulkarni

An Insiders Perspective On The Creative World of Filmmaking

With hundreds of careers and opportunities, the filmmaking industry can be a unique experience for a filmmaker. Options include pitching an idea, or a commission through screenwriting, casting, shooting, editing, and screening your project. Filmtools decided to take a deeper look into the world of a Filmmaker. This week, we had the opportunity to speak to Filmmaker Anup Kulkarni about his work. This is what he said:

Where are you from?

Anup Kulkarni: I am originally from Mumbai, India where I focused on visual effects. Later I came to LA to receive a Masters In Cinematography. Now I am based in LA where I work as a Director of Photography & VFX Supervisor. 

How did you get interested in Filmmaking?

Anup Kulkarni: From the beginning, I wanted to do something in visual storytelling. Growing up in an artistic household always encouraged me to look into what was ‘beyond’ the thin veil called ‘reality’.While finishing my bachelor’s in Physics I started exploring wildlife photography & there my journey with a camera and its ability to tell stories begun. I started my film journey through VFX industry. I was working at Rhythm & Hues studios as a 3D Camera tracking & Matchmove Technical Director. While doing that I worked on various award-winning films like Life of Pi, Thor: The Dark World, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters etc. I realized later that my actual passion lies in Cinematography for motion pictures. After that, I gravitated more towards the visual form of storytelling through camera angles, colors & lights.   

What inspires you?

Anup Kulkarni: As an artist, I get inspired by various things. But mainly through Caravaggio, Vincent Van Gogh paintings, black & white photography & natural light. Caravaggio’s style of painting is easily recognizable for its realism, intense chiaroscuro. His paintings are always recognizable for the dramatic contrast between an intensely dark & sombre background and an interest in playing with the effects of light. While following that, I also realized that it was not only frame and colors which were enhancing the beauty of my visualization, but the real binding factor to all this was lights! That made my frame complete! Along with that, the most inspiring thing for me is when you get appreciated for your cinematography work from prestigious film festivals & critics in the form of an award of excellence. Till now I am honored by four best cinematography awards for my work. 

What is your role typically on set?

Anup Kulkarni: In this visual storytelling business, I work as a Director of Photography. 

How did you break into this industry?

Anup Kulkarni: I was always fascinated by Hollywood VFX & Cinematography part of the  industry. After my graduation, I started working at Rhythm & Hues Studios & there I got to work on my first Hollywood film Life of Pi as a Camera Tracking Technical Director. After that, I totally gravitated towards Cameras, Cinematic style of storytelling & effects. 

You walk onto set, what three items do you bring with you?

Anup Kulkarni: Depends upon the production but I always take my Nikon D7100 DSLR with a 35mm prime, Sekonic L-758Cine-U DigitalMaster light meter & Heckler & Koch HK14441T Multi-Pliers w/10 Tools. For filming, I always have my Blackmagic Cinema 4K camera & Canon Prime lens kit with me. 

When you walk onto set, what’s the first thing you do?

Anup Kulkarni: After reaching on set I always discuss with producer & director about the entire day’s planning. Later I briefly explain to all my team members about the scene settings & required arrangements for lighting. 

How do you balance your work with life?

Anup Kulkarni: I feel like I am a workaholic. I love my job so I spend my most of time on different productions. Whenever I get some free time from shooting, I always spend it with my friends by watching films, traveling, listening music etc. 

Along with that whenever I am free I always invest my time in watching industry’s best DP work. I am a huge fan of Gordon Willis, ASC cinematography work. The way he played with light in Godfather series, Klute & Manhattan is phenomenal. He always followed the rule of Simple & Simplicity. Simplicity is implemented ideas in badly or in an ordinary way where as simple is your choices, simple stand alone ideas & try to elaborate that. He introduced his own craft of cinematography dominated by different but unique way of lightings in the films. Even in the present day, his influence in the industry is pervasive.

Plus my involvement in online webinars, trade shows, camera rental companies workshops & various senior DP’s online blogs for more updates.  

How important is networking in this field? How do you go out and find these people?

Anup Kulkarni: Networking is a backbone of the film business. I always believe that the way you add your efforts & bring innovation into your work that itself creates numerous networking opportunities for you. After having a successful collaboration on every production, those producers & other filmmakers will always bring you on their projects and recommend you to other. As a filmmaker, your every project is very important as your work represents you in the industry. 

Along with that, now days social media & your own website play a vital role in the networking business. Always update your work by the best possible presentation. 

What advice do you give to people working in this industry?

Anup Kulkarni: Try to discover your source of inspiration in this visual storytelling business. Get yourself a constant source of motivation in your film journey through old classic films, photography, music, reading online interviews etc. Nowadays competition in the industry getting tougher & harder than before and you need to survive by delivering the best possible way. Make your own style of storytelling. Develop your visualisation power. Just go out & shoot more stuff with your friends. The most important thing is to start adapting new technology according to the time. Don’t restrict yourself with same materials. 

Creating cinematic visuals is important because at the end of the day this is an art medium, it’s not about which latest camera or flare generating lenses you use but the skills of the person operating it. In fact, its all about the story & how you execute it in the film is really important. 

How do you deal with challenges on set?

Anup Kulkarni: As a DP, many times I face challenges and problems on sets however if you keep patience and use your experience in a right way then you can make difference in your job. Along with that if you have an industry’s professional people in your team then you can easily overcome any issues in production. 

Anup Kulkarni: I am currently working on a feature film called Shadow Lies – It’s about four college students being interrogated for their friend’s death. In the process of finding a murderer, the story reveals an unexpected conspiracy. The case leads by the detective Roger, interrogating her four friends. The story takes an unexpected turn when Deborah’s father comes under the of detective & reveals motive of murder, not suicide.


Where can people follow you on social, or check out your work?

Anup Kulkarni: People can anytime come & follow my latest work on 

Website: www.anupkulkarni.com

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/anupk15/

IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4885115/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AnupSKulkarni

 My Cinematography Reel: http://anupkulkarni.com/dopreel.html

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