Running With Srikant

After traveling around the globe and studying engineering and business, he has ironically become a fixture in the thriving local film scene.

 

Local filmmaker Srikant Chellappa’s film Running Against Dick screened to sold-out crowds at the Flint Film Festival in Flint, Michigan the first week of June. The film chronicles the 2002 Missouri Third District Congressional race. Chellappa followed several candidates as they tried to unseat longtime Congressman Dick Gephardt. Chellappa’s road to Flint has been long, both physically and metaphorically.

Chellappa lives and works in St. Louis, but he was born and raised in New Delhi, India. After studying engineering in his homeland, he immigrated to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in business at the University of Memphis. Chellappa’s proverbial day job as a consulting manager in information technology brought him to the St. Louis area. After traveling around the globe and studying engineering and business, he has ironically become a fixture in the thriving local film scene.

Chellappa, a well-educated, well-spoken artist who understands not only the art of filmmaking but the commerce of the business, left India for the “opportunities accessible across all layers of society in America.” Along the way, he developed an interest in film and filmmaking.

“Often being more interested in who made the films than the films themselves,” Chellappa took a few courses at New York University’s film school after completing his MBA. With limited experience, Chellappa jumped right in and shot a politically charged short, “The Players.” A simple five-minute piece combining narrative and documentary footage in sharp contrast, “The Players” introduced Chellappa to the St. Louis film scene and future partner Dan Byington.

Byington, a local radio personality and filmmaker in his own right, planned to mount a campaign against Gephardt and he wanted someone to chronicle the crusade. Byington met Chellappa through St. Louis Filmwire, an Internet bulletin board for local filmmakers. The two collaborated on “The Players” to get their feet wet, and then Chellappa accepted the challenge of documenting Byington’s foray into third-party politics.

What started as a basic chronicle soon turned into an examination of the American political process. Chellappa not only followed Byington, but also interviewed and recorded other candidates running against Gephardt. Chellappa tracked both third-party candidates and members of the Republican and Democratic parties through the primaries and general elections. After 80 hours of shooting and over 200 interviews Chellappa decided to lend his voice to the work. He narrates the struggle of political outsiders to garner basic recognition in the American political landscape, adding information, insight, and perspective to the piece.

Chellappa acknowledges his outsider status informs his work. “It absolutely did; I didn’t expect it to, but it did,” he admits. But after nearly a decade spent living in the U.S., he sees the American viewpoint also. These dual influences form the foundation of his artistic attitude. He cites both American and Indian filmmaking influences: Kubrick, Soderbergh, and Lynch, stand alongside Bengali classic filmmaker Satyajit Ray in Chellappa’s awareness. It is the mix of influences that engender Chellappa’s work, but it is his tireless work ethic that has landed him on the St. Louis filmmaking map.
Byington calls his collaborator “hard-working, persistent, and ambitious.” Essentially starting his local work just over three years ago, Chellappa has completed the previously mentioned projects, and recently screened his second short, ”Murder if Real,” at the fourth annual St. Louis Filmmaker’s Showcase. He is also producing a feature for local director Thomas Smagala, scheduled to begin shooting later this year. He continues to help other filmmakers and relentlessly market his completed works.

Even his vacation turned into work. While visiting relatives in India, he shot preliminary footage on a documentary focusing on the outsourcing of high tech jobs overseas. Again, his upbringing and his Americanization offer a distinct insight. Chellappa sees not only his industry dwindling in his chosen home, but the impact in the land of his birth. With the growth comes American influence; as companies move operations overseas, a subtle economic colonization has replaced the British flag. With so many irons in the fire, Chellappa still finds time to attend screenings and events, networking the film community.

An interest to do something beyond make companies bigger and more successful drew Chellappa to filmmaking. He sees it “as a way to impact society in a greater way.” With two politically themed projects under his belt and spouting such rhetoric, the temptation is to pigeonhole him as a political filmmaker, but he sees himself dealing with “more than politics. It’s about an awareness of the human condition.” His newest short, “Murder if Real,” is a straight narrative without political overtones.

Building on his recent success, Chellappa continues working and developing as a filmmaker, coupling his diverse background and vast experiences with drive and determination. As his filmmaking skills improve, his ability to start—and more importantly, finish—projects coupled with his positive attitude and excellent interpersonal skills should keep Chellappa in the local spotlight for some time.

Bobby Kirk is the Film Editor for Playback St. Louis.

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Running With Srikant

Local filmmaker Srikant Chellappa’s film Running Against Dick screened to sold-out crowds at the Flint Film Festival in Flint, Michigan the first week of June. The film chronicles the 2002 Missouri Third District Congressional race. Chellappa followed several candidates as they tried to unseat longtime Congressman Dick Gephardt. Chellappa’s road to Flint has been long, both physically and metaphorically.

Chellappa lives and works in St. Louis, but he was born and raised in New Delhi, India. After studying engineering in his homeland, he immigrated to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in business at the University of Memphis. Chellappa’s proverbial day job as a consulting manager in information technology brought him to the St. Louis area. After traveling around the globe and studying engineering and business, he has ironically become a fixture in the thriving local film scene.

Chellappa, a well-educated, well-spoken artist who understands not only the art of filmmaking but the commerce of the business, left India for the “opportunities accessible across all layers of society in America.” Along the way, he developed an interest in film and filmmaking.

“Often being more interested in who made the films than the films themselves,” Chellappa took a few courses at New York University’s film school after completing his MBA. With limited experience, Chellappa jumped right in and shot a politically charged short, “The Players.” A simple five-minute piece combining narrative and documentary footage in sharp contrast, “The Players” introduced Chellappa to the St. Louis film scene and future partner Dan Byington.

Byington, a local radio personality and filmmaker in his own right, planned to mount a campaign against Gephardt and he wanted someone to chronicle the crusade. Byington met Chellappa through St. Louis Filmwire, an Internet bulletin board for local filmmakers. The two collaborated on “The Players” to get their feet wet, and then Chellappa accepted the challenge of documenting Byington’s foray into third-party politics.

What started as a basic chronicle soon turned into an examination of the American political process. Chellappa not only followed Byington, but also interviewed and recorded other candidates running against Gephardt. Chellappa tracked both third-party candidates and members of the Republican and Democratic parties through the primaries and general elections. After 80 hours of shooting and over 200 interviews Chellappa decided to lend his voice to the work. He narrates the struggle of political outsiders to garner basic recognition in the American political landscape, adding information, insight, and perspective to the piece.

Chellappa acknowledges his outsider status informs his work. “It absolutely did; I didn’t expect it to, but it did,” he admits. But after nearly a decade spent living in the U.S., he sees the American viewpoint also. These dual influences form the foundation of his artistic attitude. He cites both American and Indian filmmaking influences: Kubrick, Soderbergh, and Lynch, stand alongside Bengali classic filmmaker Satyajit Ray in Chellappa’s awareness. It is the mix of influences that engender Chellappa’s work, but it is his tireless work ethic that has landed him on the St. Louis filmmaking map.
Byington calls his collaborator “hard-working, persistent, and ambitious.” Essentially starting his local work just over three years ago, Chellappa has completed the previously mentioned projects, and recently screened his second short, ”Murder if Real,” at the fourth annual St. Louis Filmmaker’s Showcase. He is also producing a feature for local director Thomas Smagala, scheduled to begin shooting later this year. He continues to help other filmmakers and relentlessly market his completed works.

Even his vacation turned into work. While visiting relatives in India, he shot preliminary footage on a documentary focusing on the outsourcing of high tech jobs overseas. Again, his upbringing and his Americanization offer a distinct insight. Chellappa sees not only his industry dwindling in his chosen home, but the impact in the land of his birth. With the growth comes American influence; as companies move operations overseas, a subtle economic colonization has replaced the British flag. With so many irons in the fire, Chellappa still finds time to attend screenings and events, networking the film community.

An interest to do something beyond make companies bigger and more successful drew Chellappa to filmmaking. He sees it “as a way to impact society in a greater way.” With two politically themed projects under his belt and spouting such rhetoric, the temptation is to pigeonhole him as a political filmmaker, but he sees himself dealing with “more than politics. It’s about an awareness of the human condition.” His newest short, “Murder if Real,” is a straight narrative without political overtones.

Building on his recent success, Chellappa continues working and developing as a filmmaker, coupling his diverse background and vast experiences with drive and determination. As his filmmaking skills improve, his ability to start—and more importantly, finish—projects coupled with his positive attitude and excellent interpersonal skills should keep Chellappa in the local spotlight for some time.

Bobby Kirk is the Film Editor for Playback St. Louis.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Running With Srikant

Local filmmaker Srikant Chellappa’s film Running Against Dick screened to sold-out crowds at the Flint Film Festival in Flint, Michigan the first week of June. The film chronicles the 2002 Missouri Third District Congressional race. Chellappa followed several candidates as they tried to unseat longtime Congressman Dick Gephardt. Chellappa’s road to Flint has been long, both physically and metaphorically.

Chellappa lives and works in St. Louis, but he was born and raised in New Delhi, India. After studying engineering in his homeland, he immigrated to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in business at the University of Memphis. Chellappa’s proverbial day job as a consulting manager in information technology brought him to the St. Louis area. After traveling around the globe and studying engineering and business, he has ironically become a fixture in the thriving local film scene.

Chellappa, a well-educated, well-spoken artist who understands not only the art of filmmaking but the commerce of the business, left India for the “opportunities accessible across all layers of society in America.” Along the way, he developed an interest in film and filmmaking.

“Often being more interested in who made the films than the films themselves,” Chellappa took a few courses at New York University’s film school after completing his MBA. With limited experience, Chellappa jumped right in and shot a politically charged short, “The Players.” A simple five-minute piece combining narrative and documentary footage in sharp contrast, “The Players” introduced Chellappa to the St. Louis film scene and future partner Dan Byington.

Byington, a local radio personality and filmmaker in his own right, planned to mount a campaign against Gephardt and he wanted someone to chronicle the crusade. Byington met Chellappa through St. Louis Filmwire, an Internet bulletin board for local filmmakers. The two collaborated on “The Players” to get their feet wet, and then Chellappa accepted the challenge of documenting Byington’s foray into third-party politics.

What started as a basic chronicle soon turned into an examination of the American political process. Chellappa not only followed Byington, but also interviewed and recorded other candidates running against Gephardt. Chellappa tracked both third-party candidates and members of the Republican and Democratic parties through the primaries and general elections. After 80 hours of shooting and over 200 interviews Chellappa decided to lend his voice to the work. He narrates the struggle of political outsiders to garner basic recognition in the American political landscape, adding information, insight, and perspective to the piece.

Chellappa acknowledges his outsider status informs his work. “It absolutely did; I didn’t expect it to, but it did,” he admits. But after nearly a decade spent living in the U.S., he sees the American viewpoint also. These dual influences form the foundation of his artistic attitude. He cites both American and Indian filmmaking influences: Kubrick, Soderbergh, and Lynch, stand alongside Bengali classic filmmaker Satyajit Ray in Chellappa’s awareness. It is the mix of influences that engender Chellappa’s work, but it is his tireless work ethic that has landed him on the St. Louis filmmaking map.
Byington calls his collaborator “hard-working, persistent, and ambitious.” Essentially starting his local work just over three years ago, Chellappa has completed the previously mentioned projects, and recently screened his second short, ”Murder if Real,” at the fourth annual St. Louis Filmmaker’s Showcase. He is also producing a feature for local director Thomas Smagala, scheduled to begin shooting later this year. He continues to help other filmmakers and relentlessly market his completed works.

Even his vacation turned into work. While visiting relatives in India, he shot preliminary footage on a documentary focusing on the outsourcing of high tech jobs overseas. Again, his upbringing and his Americanization offer a distinct insight. Chellappa sees not only his industry dwindling in his chosen home, but the impact in the land of his birth. With the growth comes American influence; as companies move operations overseas, a subtle economic colonization has replaced the British flag. With so many irons in the fire, Chellappa still finds time to attend screenings and events, networking the film community.

An interest to do something beyond make companies bigger and more successful drew Chellappa to filmmaking. He sees it “as a way to impact society in a greater way.” With two politically themed projects under his belt and spouting such rhetoric, the temptation is to pigeonhole him as a political filmmaker, but he sees himself dealing with “more than politics. It’s about an awareness of the human condition.” His newest short, “Murder if Real,” is a straight narrative without political overtones.

Building on his recent success, Chellappa continues working and developing as a filmmaker, coupling his diverse background and vast experiences with drive and determination. As his filmmaking skills improve, his ability to start—and more importantly, finish—projects coupled with his positive attitude and excellent interpersonal skills should keep Chellappa in the local spotlight for some time.

Bobby Kirk is the Film Editor for Playback St. Louis.

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