Return of the Rhino

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Gautam Pandey

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

I’m inspired by a documentary made by my father, Mike Pandey, titled “”Shores of Silence: Whale Sharks in India.”” This groundbreaking film exposed the brutal and senseless killing of whale sharks by impoverished Indian communities. Its powerful message triggered a significant transformation in legislation to safeguard these endangered species worldwide. In response to the film, the Indian government enacted laws to prohibit the fishing of whale sharks, declaring them endangered and extending protection under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Having personally witnessed the profound impact of this documentary, I was deeply moved and inspired to follow in my father’s footsteps to make a difference through film.

What motivated you to make this film?

I feel that we are already at the tipping point. The choices we make today will shape the course of our planet’s future. We will look back at this moment and question ourselves if we took enough action to protect our environment and her ecosystems.

Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

We filmed on the Sony FX6 and Sony A7S3. These cameras are incredibly durable. I’ve used these cameras in multiple locations across varied weather conditions, from extreme heat to cold and even rain. It continues to perform well.

Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

My main focus was to stay true to the storyline and establish an emotional connection with the audience. Despite working within a tight schedule, we made sure to incorporate all the essential elements of the narrative within the allotted time.

How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

Documentary stories often evolve as we progress into them, and we’ll often encounter unforeseen surprises or new information that can potentially alter the narrative. Overall, we managed to capture what we had envisioned for this film.

Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

The most rewarding feeling is to be part of something beyond yourself and be able to give back.

What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

We all must find new ways to tell stories to connect with a broader audience. Real impact will happen when people are motivated to make positive changes to their lifestyles and choices.

What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

I love being on location, as tough as it can sometimes be. Often, the essential layers of a story only reveal themselves when you can spend time with the people and on the ground. I also like to see a story take shape during the editing process. It’s really like watching a baby grow.

What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

I always make sure to carry essential items such as a pen knife, backup cables, a backup camera, and a backup laptop to ensure that I am well-prepared for any unforeseen circumstances.

Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

COVID was at its peak when we were about to commence filming. We had to adapt and pare down on our initial filming plans and crew team size. Once we got to the location, we were very warmly welcomed by everyone, and they were so open to telling their story.

What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

Key takeaways would be:

– The importance of community and action.
– We all need to just pick a corner and do something.

Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Discussion points:

– We need to think of ways to benefit the community at large and not just a select few.
– Tourism can create issues. How do we prevent or tackle these issues?

Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

Covid has affected their tourism a lot, it is slowly coming back in. Some home stays had to shut down because of this.

What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

You volunteer or donate to them.

Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):



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