Young, hard working, immensely talented and highly selective of his work. That is Daniel Viswas from Madanapalle. The cinematographer is making rapid strides in the film industry and soon he will be a force to reckon with. He worked in Kiran Abbavaram starrer S R Kalyana Mandapam and Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnu Katha. He might be just two films old, but industry folks have spotted the spark in him. Talking to Y. Sunita Chowdhary of Klapboardpost.com, Danile Viswas talks about how he acquired his first camera and how he ditched his higher studies for a career in cinema. “After listening to the story of Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnu katha, I heard several stories but none of them were up to this standard,” he states.
Daniel’s interest in cameras began during childhood. His father’s friend brought a camera from Dubai; It was a Kodak film camera and Daniel began clicking pictures of the beautiful surroundings at his home randomly. He was just 12 years old and given a chance of revisiting those pictures, Daniel says he would term it amateurish. He shares, “It was a hobby. I like images, colours and slowly the interest was building. When I was doing B.tech, my sister gifted me a camera. In between a lot of new stuff like the point and shoot cameras, sony power shot cameras, HD sony handy cams came into the market. I would take pictures and send a lot to photography contests and get a few awards too. Even during my studies I never thought I would get into the film field as a cinematographer. I hardly saw films those days and even if I saw them, I would without any special interest.”
Daniel Viswas is from an orthodox christian family. Ask him about his name, he says, “Grandfather named me Daniel and my mother wanted Vishwas. At the church, the pastor put the two together and that’s how I got named. My place, Madanapalle is a cool area, beautiful and there is Horsley hills close by which is called the second ooty. After schooling there, I moved to Tirupati for intermediate and then did B.tech in Kadapa,” he shares. The technician during the finishing stages of engineering got to know about VFX, visual grandeur and learnt what cinematography is all about. He was not interested in the content of the film but was more curious about how it was executed. He gave up his plans to go abroad for higher studies and attended a four month course on screenplay conducted by a team member of Raju Hirani, the filmmaker. This four month journey showed him the path to his future career.
He adds, “My friend in engineering Hemanth wrote a horror story and we did a short film; he directed it and I held the camera. It was okay and we felt great about the output. So after finishing this short term course I contacted Hemanth and he advised me to stay put in Hyderabad, pursue a career in cinema. While Hemanth is closer to reaching his goal as a director, I am here too as a cinematographer.” Daniel worked with acclaimed cinematographer Bal Reddy for over 8 to 9 years. Didn’t he find a reason to shift to another cameraman to learn different perspectives? “I learnt a lot from him about how to do shot compositions. how the story takes cinematography forward. He would work in different genres and I became an integral part of his team. From being his apprentice I moved to being a chief associate. Be it costumes or colours we used or compositions, lighting patterns etc, we discussed all during pre production and also about how best we can make a difference to our next film. I never wanted to move to another DoP. ”
Daniel never went to a film school, he made use of all the spare time he could grab and went through many websites on film techniques, on lighting and cinematography techniques. He also studied the American cinematography journal and subscribed to Shane Albert. He would follow all this, the equipment they were using, learn how they were able to bring richness to the visuals and would use this knowledge ..theory and equipment to incorporate in their project. About constant budget constraints in film making, Daniel says, “We need both budget and technology and while using new technology we should control budget. That is possible only by reducing the number of days using technology.”
Finally, he recalls his work in SR Kalyana Mandapam, “I was working with Bal Reddy for Dirty Harry and there one of the asosociates put me on to the director Sreedhar. I instantly got connected to the story. There was a lot of appreciation of the film. We had budget constraints, we didn’t use any of the track and trolleys or any equipment for camera movements. We used Gimbal. Getting that sort of output with the given budget was commendable, said many and that boosted my confidence. Soon after Kiran Abbavaram contacted me and enquired if I would be interested in listening to a story and that was Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnu Katha. I was spellbound while the director narrated it. The film has a mix of all genres and it was quite challenging to get visuals that gelled with it. The locations where we shot were fresh. The dialogues by director Nanda Kishore were conversational yet hard hitting. We are waiting for D day.”