Seykhar Films  (Formerly Tibet Motion Pictures & Arts)

Updates on MY SON TENZIN

After making two Tibetan feature films, Phun Anu Thanu- 2005 & Richard Gere is My Hero- 2007, we were desperately yearning to embark on our third production, our upcoming feature film- 'My Son Tenzin'. We had been working on the script for about four years to develop it in entirety. Over the years, many changes took place to our writing- the storyline as well as its characterizations. We are particularly thankful to Barbara Green, Sonam Tashi, Heidi Haydee, and Tsering Dhondup for their insightful suggestions and contributions.

Finally, by the Dec. 2015, we were ready to shoot our much-awaited feature film in San Francisco Bay area. But then we've no funds to make the movie. It will cost at least several thousand US dollars to cover the necessary cost of productions such as equipment rentals, costumes, set decoration, meals, transports, and others. We then came up with the idea of profit sharing initiative with our principal casts and crews. Without giving a second thought, we dialed our good old friend and an accomplished actor, Tsering Dorjee Bawa who had already worked in some of the big budget movies such as the Oscar-nominated film, 'The Himalaya' and Naseeruddin Shah starer, 'The Valley of Flowers' to collaborate with us. To our much-elated joy, Tsering gladly accepted our offer and agreed to do the protagonist's part. Soon we were looking for the other artists in San Francisco Bay area.

We then approached our filmmaker friend Tsering Dhondup who also lives in Bay area to suggest us some good Tibetan actors as Tsering already made two shorts earlier with Tibetan artists in the area. Tsering introduced two talented players- Tashi Wangden and Tenzin Chokdup. We then screen tested both of the actors for the two supporting roles and as soon as they were finalized and congratulated profusely, Sonam Tashi, Canada who was also reading our script had an interesting suggestion, and we couldn't resist going with his idea which is to terminate Tenzin Chokdup's role in entirety. We were now in a big dilemma. How were we going to inform him that we were ending his part? After few weeks of thinking back and forth, we then sent an apologetic email to Chokdup informing him that we were terminating his part. Chokdup understood our situation and wrote us that he didn't mind our decision at all. In fact, he further wished us good luck with our upcoming shooting and offered his help if needed. It was a big relief. Soon Tsultrim started looking out for Indian actors, while Barbara Green Caucasian and Tsering Dorjee Bawa Tibetan actors.

It was now the time to look out for equipment. Soon we were busy googling the internet to find a reliable rental house, and as luck would have it, we found Borrow Lenses in San Francisco. Their customer reviews were great so as their equipment and services. We decided to rent a dedicated Canon 5D Mark III, 3- sophisticated lenses, a Steadicam and few other pieces of equipment for about 35 days. Tsultrim who also runs a successful restaurant in Oakland- 'High Peaks Kitchen' ran into a generous gentleman who possessed professional Lowel lighting kits at his home, and he was more than happy to loan us these sets without charging any fees. Thanking him profusely, we took the set from him at lightening speed. Since all of the equipment were of relatively new models, it took a while to figure out how to operate these; especially Tsultrim who will be taking care of the cinematography in the days to come. By then shooting locations and sets were already confirmed and locked.

It was now the time to arrange a lovely inaugural ceremony for our casts, crews, and friends at the Bay area Tibetan community center. Mr. Kelsang Phuntsok, the President of Tibetan Association of Northern California, was the Chief Guest and cut the inaugural ribbon. As requested, he further agreed to do a brief role in the film. Many of our guests also came forward and offered their volunteer services which were very helpful.

Since we had only a month's time to shoot the film, soon we found ourselves battling with light, camera and sound. We converted Tsultrim's bedroom into the protagonist's living room during the day and our bedroom for the night. Many excellent actors most of whom were volunteers participated in our project. Tenzin Gyaltsen, a young and an energetic college student joined us as an assistant director and helped us a lot. Since we did not have enough money in our pocket, two filmmakers would get up early in the morning, cook and pack lunch for their casts and crews for the day's shoot. We were shooting for the twenty-four-seven and our spouses and families were like, 'What's going on?' On top of that Tashi Wangden, the second lead actor had recently bought a new house and Tsering Dorjee Bawa had a baby to take care of and both of them desperately needed time for themselves. But we had no other option as we had to complete the film in a month's time since every one of us took leave from our job. We also took Tsering's baby on set on several occasions as we couldn't afford a babysitter. We experienced for the first time that filmmaker should also learn how to babysit. Jokes apart, we must thank Tsering Dolkar, one of our relatives who took care of the baby when the weather was unusually cold and windy outside.

While we were marathoning with the never ending shoot, suddenly in the middle of the month, Tashi Wangden had lost his voice as he was down with severe cold. He had a fever and chills. Soon both of the directors and Tsering Bawa were also reeling under cold and battling with the awful flu. The God truly wanted all of us to slow down. We then spent following few days in bed while our family members who were already overwhelmed with our never ending shoots now found themselves busy catering us with thick blankets, hot soups, and medicines. After taking a break for about four days in bed, we were back again on the set. Finally, we wrapped up our shooting in the middle of Jan 2016. For the next one month and a half, we didn't touch our footage at all, as we have been thoroughly exhausted and desperately needed a long break.

Thank God; finally, the post production is over and at this point, we are scanning various film festivals so that we could share our story with the world. We also screened our work-in-progress to several of our friends and professionals for feedbacks and suggestions. We are glad that we received many rave reviews, particularly from those who are born and brought up in the west as our target audience are non-Tibetans.

We would also like to thank all of our casts, crews, volunteers, and well-wishers without whose support and help this film wouldn't have been made. Also please consider supporting our fundraiser drive on Indiegogo for festival submissions and promotions. 

A Big Thank You To Every One!.

Contributed by Tashi Wangchuk
Co-Producer & Co-Director
Seykhar Films.