Sepia is a story of a man after being rejected from re-entering his own country must cross the desert to return home to see the love of his life. It is full of heart-touching moments and emotions. Sepia is plainly beautiful with some astounding visuals. Desolate landscapes and orange sunset are captured well. The film is doing good in the film festivals and has won the ‘Best Cinematography Award’ in Austin Indie Film Festival.
The man behind those stunning visuals is cinematographer Manikandan Mathivanan. He has worked in an impressive array of projects across film, commercial, online and live events. In the commercial space, Mathivanan has worked with major brands. As a filmmaker, Mathivanan produced and directed critically acclaimed short film Fated that won award at LA Shorts Awards (2017), semi-finalist at Los Angeles Cine Festival and Official Selection – London Independent Film Awards.
Excerpts from his interview
Q: Tell us about yourself and your path so far.
A: I have been employed actively as a cinematographer since about 2017 but before that, I was in film school doing my masters. Like everyone in the university I wanted to be a director untill I was introduced to cinematography and lighting classes. I was really fascinated by this side of the art and I started working as a cinematographer for a lot of my friend’s class project. I enjoyed it and that’s when I thought maybe I should aim towards being a cinematographer. So, I started working towards that and now here I am.
Q: Your association with Sepia.
A: I always put the script first and see if it is something I can connect with on an emotional or creative level. And I also look at the director’s previous work and meet them in person to get a vibe of them. I would like to make sure that I am working with someone who is willing to collaborate and make a great film. And I chose to work on this movie because of all the reasons I mentioned above. The script was well written and the director had a clear vision of what he wanted. He was ready to bounce off ideas and work as a team.
Q: What was your inspiration for this movie?
A: This movie is all about love, isolation, and loss. As a cinematographer, it is important for me to convey those emotions in my frames and make sure that the audience feels it too. I used a lot of wide shots to show emptiness and how the character feels small. Things like that add a lot to a movie. During the pre-production, I watched Andrei Tarkovsky movies and also saw some Russian photographs to get some inspiration. The reason was that Andrei Tarkovsky is a master of long shots and his frames are like a painting.
Q: what was your biggest challenge filming Sepia?
A: A major portion of the movie happens outdoors in the desert. I think that was the challenging part because you don’t have much control of the environment and light. Plus, the heat was unbearable.
Q: How do you feel about the best cinematography award?
A: I am really happy and proud. It is very important for every artist to get recognition for his hard work. I am also grateful for Sepia’s producer and director. They are doing a wonderful job in sending the movie to film festivals.