I believe watching a film shouldn’t just be a passive experience. I very much like the idea of being dropped into the middle of a scene, because as an audience, it means you have to try and catch up or you have to try and piece things together. Lithium was shot like that.
They say you are responsible for the choices you make. I believe, for a filmmaker, the word choices can rightly be replaced by films. If I were getting some money for each time someone asked me about ‘Lithium’, I would’ve had enough now to make a new good budget short. Lithium was a journey from paper to the screen and something worth writing about. It was an experiment, something different, something to explore ourselves and our potentials but more importantly it was close to what I wanted to make. And the good part is, the outcome was amazing. It was quite well received by a good number of people who could relate the story and came up with pretty good explanations to whatever they watched. So I guess that was a win for whole the team.
What was Lithium about?
I believe watching a film shouldn’t just be a passive experience. I very much like the idea of being dropped into the middle of a scene, because as an audience, it means you have to try and catch up or you have to try and piece things together. Lithium was shot like that. Our minds speak no doubt, we have to let them speak for us. I portrayed something and expected viewers to fill in the gaps and read in between the lines to come up with a meaning. The story revolves around a man who has questioned sanity, some kind of disorder that makes him helpless at times, even as a kid. The story relates his condition with his relationship with a girl which ends up liberating the inexorable fate. It portrays the regret that later on surrounds him and his helplessness about all what happens. We all pretty much get that feeling more or less, afterall, we all are somewhat pathological in our own ways. So it was a symbolic representation of the very idea of insanity that somewhat resides inside all of us.
Why the odd title?
‘Lithium’ is the lithium we all know about. What we probably don’t know is the use of Lithium as a medication, a mood stabilizer, usually to treat patients suffering from bipolar disorder and mood swings. This seems like influenced by our primary field of medicine but infact the term has been used in literature as well. Besides everything the term was related to what we wanted to create and at the same time quite catchy too so we held onto it till the end.
The First Steps
I came up with this script last year which I showed to Uzair Kalim Zafar. We both had already worked together before while making a humorous video for a competition and I knew he was the best choice for the role. So we did a few sittings to further strengthen the dialogues and storyline and it worked out pretty well. Meanwhile Afnan Riaz and Asad Noor, the two brains who had already finished their short film ‘Umeed-e-Nau’ a month before were also taken on board. They pretty much liked the concept, added in their own flavors, so it became our very own little project. Afaf Baig and the two kids, Amna Tariq and Haycem Hidayat were later chosen for the role and needless to say, each of them did complete justice to their roles.
Why it was harder to shoot?
Lithium was a ‘no budget’ film and we hadn’t enough equipment to shoot the scenes we initially planned. We just had ordinary DSLR cameras. We had no budget to produce an exclusive score for the film. We couldn’t get external lights so had to rely on sunlight. There wasn’t continuity in the shoots and we had to take long breaks of even months due to our overburdened schedule throughout the year. Plus Uzair and I did a massive location hunting for the film and gave special attention to the make-up of actors, all to achieve the feeling we intended to create while working on script. Apart from that, the whole conversation was shot in an open air area of Polo Lounge, Islamabad. The sound I recorded during shoot had not just ordinary noise but even instruments playing in the adjacent restaurants. It was almost impossible to unbake that baked cake. So I was left with only option of re-dubbing the movie that required great care and was quite painstaking. Anyways, hardwork pays off. The results weren’t bad and I am happy having something that I can be proud of. The project completed and there was no point waiting for a miracle to happen, I had to move on, so I uploaded it to my Vimeo account and made it available.
Lithium was one best experience for me and the whole team. We all learned a lot with all the experiences we had. I know we could do more and I hope to improve with each coming project as I believe if you aren’t improving, you are just collecting dust. I would like to thank everyone who supported our work in any way because support always means so much. Here is the complete film embeded below, I would recommend watching it directly on the link www.vimeo.com/omarnasim/lithium for HD version.