A local theatre group brings two short films with people of determination to the big screen
Determined and Dramatic, founded and run by a special educator and a drama teacher Alba Rose, is bringing two short films to VOX Cinemas
This is a story of determination, and it is not our story but for Alba Rose and her tribe of determined people to tell. Alba, 29, belongs to Mumbai and has been a drama educator for ten years now. She’s a special educator and also the drama catalyst at The Hive, a performing arts school in Dubai, since 2018. Later this month, two of the short films by her group called Determined & Dramatic would be screened at VOX Cinemas, Burjuman Mall, Dubai. A minimalist, Alba’s work reflects just that. We learn more about the films titled — Quarantined For What Feels Like A Lifetime and Hello Hello, and the inclusive community that she’s built.
How and when did Determined & Dramatic (D&D) come into being?
I was teaching drama whilst studying to be a special educator and after I finished my degree, I decided to continue to be a drama educator. However, the intention to use drama to help empower people of determination was always a dream. It’s only after I moved to the UAE that I found the courage to do so, the country is beautifully inclusive in its outlook and with the support of my team at The Hive, I started D&D in 2019.
How long did it take for you to make the project happen — from conceptualising the movies to production and now screening?
Each film took four-five months, from the auditions to the screening. I started to work on the first film in May 2020; being stuck indoors can be a blessing in disguise. The void of not being able to go back home to India pushed me into wanting to use my time more productively. I made a flyer (an ugly one) and posted calls for virtual auditions, within the next two days I had a whole line-up of people from the UAE and India wanting to be a part of the project; I then immediately started rehearsals and by July, I was ready to shoot.
And you were involved in the films, truly hands-on. Tell us more.
I filmed the actors in Dubai myself on a phone camera and had the parents film and send the videos of actors, who lived out of the city. I then taught myself how to edit the film. The plan initially was to only share it on YouTube but over time the whole initiative took shape and I found myself screening a film starring an all-star determined cast, right after lockdown. At the screening, I saw the impact the film had on the people who’d watched it. I knew I had to take it to schools, it became my goal, but since schools weren’t functioning like before, nothing really picked up. Then, in February 2021, I decided to make another film, I wrote a script that gave me the flexibility to work with my actors virtually, and the same drill as the first film followed, only now I asked for professional help to edit and Vishnu Sundar very generously offered to do so.
And now the films are getting screened in VOX Cinemas. How did that happen?
Getting VOX Cinemas to screen the films is a big break. I was sharing with a student’s parent that I’d made these films and wanted to screen them for students in Dubai. He said he knew someone in VOX and would start a conversation, one thing led to another and here we are, soon to be screening two films in a multiplex theatre! VOX Cinemas has very generously offered to screen both films as part of their CSR initiative, free of charge, with complimentary F&B for all audience members. These screenings are particularly special because they will also be sensory-friendly. Students from various schools will be part of the audience.
What’s the most beautiful lesson about working with an all-determined cast?
Irrespective of how unique every emotion and performance were, I’d made it a point to not direct the scenes/performances very heavily, I wanted for the performance to be as natural and authentic as possible. It’s important for the audience to see the beauty in simplicity.
What’s the harshest bit of working with an all-determined cast?
Making the time is what I found most difficult. As my actors came with not much acting experience. I wanted to work with each of the actors individually and making time is what I found difficult to do since I also have a full-time day job.
This mission and passion is not an easy one to follow. What keeps you going?
What makes this project special is that it’s minimalistic and focuses on the experience of the actors. As I self-produced, I wasn’t working on big budgets and did the best with the resources I have at hand. The fact is that I love doing this work, it’s the least I can do to give back to the community. And being a mum (a single mum at that) fuels my determination, it’s important to me that I’m doing something to make the world a better place for my son to live in.