When a video doing the rounds on the internet caught Dunstan Dias’ attention, he decided to adapt it for the screen. The video that constituted the sentencing hearing of ex-USA gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar who sexually assaulted 216 women and girls under the guise of medical treatment, showed a father whose three daughters had been abused, asking the judge to grant him five minutes in a locked room with the defendant. When the request was denied, the father lunged at the accused from across the courtroom.
Deeply shaken by the video, Dunstan Dias, who was a Masters student at the MetFilm School in London at the time, reveals, “As a creator, I wanted to get into the mind of the father and explore the nuances of abuse from the perspective of a victim’s loved ones. I started putting out calls for a writer, producer, actors – and I got an amazing response. I initially thought that the story would be too dark for a lot of people and that there might not be many who would want to join. But luckily, I got the most amazing crew.”
Titled ‘Nowhere to Go’, the film explores the mind of a father who unexpectedly finds himself on edge following a violent assault of his daughter. “He’s a simple man, a carpenter, who is dealt these cards. He does not know how to handle his rage or get justice. His mind is all over the place. Everything he does, he does out of desperation to gain some sort of control in his life.”
Margao based Dunstan Dias’ 10 minute 46 second short film is his first as a director and his celluloid vehicle, ‘Nowhere to Go,’ was nominated as the best UK film for the prestigious Dirigo Film Festival.
The film also explores the other character, the perpetrator, and how he tries to get away and manipulate the situation. In the end, the film portrays how the father must come to terms with the fine line between revenge and justice. “It is a difficult topic. In life, we often find ourselves trapped in certain situations and mindsets and that is where the title comes from. In the film, the father is trapped in his mind while the perpetrator is trapped in a basement with nowhere to go.” The film was shot entirely in a basement under a theatre club in London.
Dias’ love affair with filmmaking began in his teen years when he was tasked with creating videos for his band. He started by learning about the art from different corners through the internet before finally applying to the MetFilm School in London to do his Master’s in Film and Television Production where he grasped the real deal of filmmaking and the film world. During his essay at MetFilm School in London, he got opportunities to try on different hats as cinematographer, director of photography and first AD (assistant director).
‘Nowhere to Go’ is his directorial debut and as a first-time director, Dias soon realized that there was a lot riding on him. “This was the first time I was calling the shots and it was quite a learning experience. It was a lot of pressure too because if your characters do not come to life, the film is going to flop; if your story is not impactful, your film is going to flop; if your script is not good, your film is going to flop,” stated Dunstan. He explains that having a clear vision on what his film should look like and researching how his characters should feel is what helped bring it all together.
Another major challenge was working on a very small budget. “We needed to do a lot of things to fit within the budget, such as keeping the cast small, limiting the number of locations we could use and just figuring out ways to reduce the budget. But you also have to pay the actors, spend on food, electricity – the costs add up,” he says. He is full of praise for his crew and he adds, “I was fortunate to have creative people around me who made everything much simpler.”
With his creative zest, Dunstan Dias has many places to go in his creative domain.
(Courtesy: NT’s Anna Fernandez)