He is the man behind Harvey’s Dream Dollar Baby Film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Jainardhan Sathyan: Like any movie aficionado, even I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my Hollywood dreams. I was a producer in India and have produced more than twenty television shows, short films, music videos and commercials. Many of my colleagues, few senior technicians and some actors too, often motivated me to take up direction, but I never had the confidence to do so. I felt the best way to make this transition would be to go back to a film school and learn the art of story telling. I quit a plum job, fancy designation and went to New York Film Academy, Los Angeles to do a masters degree in filmmaking. That boosted my confidence and with some mentorship, retraining and sharpened skills I stepped out to direct my debut film – Harvey’s Dream.
SKSM: When did you make Harvey’s dream? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Jainardhan Sathyan: We finished the movie in Jan 2016, since then it is being played at more than a hundred film festivals around the world. A small crew of fifteen members, put this project together. For me, the most important element was the casting. The believability about the characters as couples was key to the story. I was stuck with the idea of casting a real couple, who are in their late fifties, married for thirty or more years and method actors. Finding such a couple in Hollywood was a very big challenge. But it wasn’t impossible, my mentor, James Pasternak, helped me convince award winning actors Philp Casnoff (One Life to Live, Sinatra) and Roxanne Hart (Highlander) to act on this movie. They are real couple and brilliant actors. Once we locked the cast, rest flew seamlessly as planned. Our budget was within US $10,000 and we shot for two days. The location was in Los Angeles and where it got produced too except the music, sound design and visual effects was done in India.
SKSM: How come you picked Harvey’s dream to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Jainardhan Sathyan: I am a big fan of relationships and I keep observing couples to research why they tick or why they fall apart. You can see all kinds of them around you, it is very interesting to see how one behaves during a celebration and how differently in a crisis situation. The ageing couple in Harvey’s Dream, caught my attention. The story is not about the dream or the nightmare, it is all about what happens to the relationship before and after the event. In that ten minutes, you can see a world of change between them and that is what I wanted to capture and present.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Jainardhan Sathyan: I was developing and planning to adapt the story – “The Killers” by Ernest Hemingway. But the author’s legal team refused to sell the rights to me. I was very disappointed and demotivated when my screenwriting mentor – Lee Gordon, suggested me to connect with Stephen King and the rest is history.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Jainardhan Sathyan: I am a staunch believer of divine intervention. It happened in this project too. We did not have enough funds to get a picture car or a damaged car for the shoot. We had a friend’s van available and that was blue in color. My DP, Drew Ganyer, wasn’t very happy with this and during our scout and rehearsals, he would highlight that the blood wont be visible on a blue van. On the day of the shoot, and this was the first shot, we see a damaged car parked on the street outside the house, exactly where we would have parked the van. Inexplicable, we sent prayers and rolled.
SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe an internet/dvd release would be possible?
Jainardhan Sathyan: I think King has to be convinced first, by a budding filmmaker who can match his expectations on narrative and production values. I think this is one of the best talent search around in the industry and awards at festivals are a good validation for your creative capabilities. Let couple of films bag the highest award for an independent filmmaker and then there could be a need for the world to see it. Till then, it will remain in our personal libraries.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Jainardhan Sathyan: The best reviews are generous ones, but someone interviewing me for job said – “Your movie made me scared and thinking, even I have daughters!”
The bad review was my eight year old son, who said “Please complete your movie, tell the viewer who is on the phone.”
SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?
Jainardhan Sathyan: Not yet but may be soon, you never know. I believe in endless possibilities, ever unfolding for you in this beautiful journey called ‘life’. I have no clue if he has seen my movie but that is one review I am nervous about.
SKSM: What are you working nowadays?
Jainardhan Sathyan: I have produced another short film titled – Dying To Live, directed by a very talented young Russian director – Ilya Rozhkov. I may produce couple of more projects before I get back to another directorial project. Could be another Stephen King piece from my wish list.
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick – at least – one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Jainardhan Sathyan: The Doctor’s Case. It is a very very challenging piece and I have a completely different take on the characters. I have already spotted the super talented crew to make it happen, if it comes by.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Jainardhan Sathyan: If you get a chance to see this movie and like it, then the real credit goes to my executive producer and wife – Monika Sathyan. She is the reason above all, I could make this movie and the way it is, else I would have quit long back.
SKSM: Do you have anything you’d like to add?
Jainardhan Sathyan: “Get close and give care”.
This is the theme and larger message of my movie. Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a cruel neurological disorder that robs humanity from people who suffer from it. My lead character – Harvey is 65 years old and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and the couple aren’t close to each other. Next could be you or me or someone who is dearest to us. Let not an event happen in our lives to get close, it might be too late.