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23rd April 2012
Colour immersion
Title of film: Holi
Director: Jonathan Bregel & Khalid Mohtaseb
Production Company: Variable
Watch Variable's film of Holi Festival allllllll day long and you won't even notice it's Monday.

Colour immersion like no other – eat your heart out Sony and Dulux. Just take a look at this exquisite piece of filming shot as a personal project by New York film making collective, Variable.

Did you know the Holi Festival before you made the film?

Yes. We had stumbled upon some images of the festival just about eight months before shooting it, and our jaws dropped. It was truly our calling to exhibit the world in a different way in order to raise eyebrows. Holi embodies everything we love about life. It’s beautiful, it’s a celebration of happiness, and it’s a chance for cultures to come together and celebrate life. Therefore, we had to be there.

What was the idea behind making Holi? Did you always visualize the pacing, the tone that’s in the finished film from the beginning? Or did things evolve along the way?

The idea behind this film is so simple. It’s real life.
The film, for the most part, was pre-visualized within the idea that we just wanted to capture what was real. Our intentions for this film were so simple, and it’s so interesting to us that some people aren’t seeing it. There is no need to think hard after viewing Holi, this in not just another a “slow motion montage” of water balloons or epic explosions, there is no hidden story here, Holi is simply an exhibition of real life.

The scenes are beautifully framed. Did a lot of consideration go into the pre-production? Did you storyboard the film or have a shot list? Or was there quite a lot of spontaneous filming?

Yes & no. Most of the framing was very spontaneous. Most locations were chosen the day of the shoot. We had an AMAZING line producer (Viraj Verlinker) who honestly made this shoot possible. The dude is simply, a legend. Viraj and our amazing producer/company partner, Tyler Ginter made it possible for Khalid and I to do what our instincts were telling us. The fact that these guys put up with us, is amazing. Teamwork makes dreamwork.

Some of the shots, however, were pre-thought-out in terms of framing. Certain angles were pre-determined in order to exude very specific emotions from the viewers, but again, most of the shots were instinctual based on the light, locations, people, and the specific situation at hand. LOTS of spontaneous things happened that were out of our control, so this film was all about adapting to our situation and making the most of it. This film was not easy to make.

The effect of the paint dust, the colours, the textures add a painterly quality to the film. Did you do a lot of experimentation to get this effect the way you wanted to?

We didn’t do much experimenting for this specific film. Most of our experience with this camera comes from prior shooting experience along with tons and tons of research. One of our biggest tests for this film was the first experimental film we did entitled, 8 Hours in Brooklyn. You can view that film in Related Content. This film taught us a lot of what we could and couldn’t get away with.

Were the effects all done in camera?

Yes. A lot of people ask this question, especially because The Mill was involved, but everything was 100% done in camera. The Mill backed it up with an insane edit by Ryan McKenna and mind-melting grade by Sal Malfitano. All post was possible because of Alex Maxwell & Dee Allen @ The Mill.

What was behind your decision to shoot with the Phantom?

We chose the Phantom Flex camera because of its ability to shoot reality in a way that is not possible with any other format currently on the market. A big thanks must go out to supportive executive producers; Mike Sutton and John Rule of Rule Boston Camera for supporting our vision and helping us out with the camera rental.

What came first the music or did you find the track to fit the film?

The film came first, not 100% by choice, but I’m glad it happened this way because our great friend/collaborator, Salomon Ligthelm, came through with an amazing original score. We typically like to shoot everything with the track locked, but Salomon just gets us, and we all work so well together.

How do you describe Variable?

Variable is a team of passionate filmmakers & creative thinkers that formed based on our common interest in progressive & innovative filmmaking. At our core, we truly believe in making films & commercials that will help enlighten the people within our world. Lastly, we love to make films, and we love a great & insightful creative conversation.

What are you were working on now?

I really wish we could tell! Some things we are very excited & passionate about. I can also say that most every project we are in pre-production on has clients/agencies more willing than ever to take risks…something that has been a massive red flag up until now. We firmly believe that taking “rational risks” and forming trust with our clients/agencies is a huge key to success and standing out. With every project we like to try and stay ahead of the curve and rational risk taking is a huge part of that 🙂

Any more filming trips planned?

So many! They will never end.


Production Company: Variable – WeAreVariable.com
Creative: Variable
Post Production/Editorial: The Mill – TheMill.com

Directors/Cinematographers: Jonathan Bregel & Khalid Mohtaseb @ Variable
Executive Producers: John Rule & Mike Sutton (@MNS1974)
Producer: Tyler Ginter @ Variable
Line Producer: Viraj Velinker
Phantom Tech: Nick Midwig

The Mill: New York City
Post Production Producers: Dee Allen & Alex Maxwell
Editor: Ryan McKenna
Colourist: Sal Malfitano

A big thanks must go out to supportive executive producers;

Mike Sutton and John Rule of Rule Boston Camera for supporting our vision

and helping us out with the camera rental.

Original Score/Sound Design: Salomon Ligthelm – ligthelm.tv

Special thanks to the risk takers who helped make this job possible:
Rule Boston Camera – for trusting us with their Phantom Flex – Rule.com
Angenieux – for trusting us with their prototype glass – Angenieux.com