The Sunday Leader

Of Lion Born And Heroes

by Michelle Alles

Sachi Ediriweera, who currently resides in Dubai, is a self-taught director/writer of short films, an illustrator, graphic designer, comic book writer/artist, and he also undertakes storyboarding and concept designing for projects. He launched his first comic ‘LionBorn’ at the recently held Lanka Comic Con. This talented individual has a brilliant future ahead of him, and we’re looking forward to what he’ll come up with as time goes on!

 

Early Days

Sachi spent his early days in Dubai and moved to Sri Lanka at the age of 8. “I remember being very fascinated with trees as a kid, since I hadn’t seen much greenery over in Dubai!” he said.

Doodling since his childhood, Sachi also had a fascination for movies and comics which no doubt honed his talent over the years and left no uncertainty as to the career he would choose as an adult. Since he lived in the south with his family, travelling to institutes in Colombo presented an inconvenience that led him to gain most of his knowledge from research.

 

Film: The Story Matters Most

“The traditional thinking is that you have to go to film school or a graphics institute to learn filming or designing. But there are other ways too; whenever I wanted to learn something, I would refer it online or from whatever other resources were available. My friends and I would share whatever knowledge we gleaned with each other. Even today, I’m still learning new things. Education is a process that is never completed,” he stated.

“I’d watch the ‘Making Of’ over and over again on movies and observe how shots are framed, so that was my learning curve. For me, the most important part of the film is the story; the camera is just a tool you use to make it and deliver the tale. Everybody is under the impression that expensive cameras and equipment should be used, but filmmaking is actually storytelling and that should be the priority, since the story is what viewers would be focusing on.

There are quite a few famous Hollywood directors that never went to film school, but while it does have its benefits, but so does being self-taught as well. Nowadays short films are even filmed on iPhones. So new filmmakers needn’t get too worried about not having the right gear when starting out,” he advised “Besides, we have an amazing spectrum of locations for nature scenes; abandoned places, open fields, beautiful beaches, etc.

In terms of climate, we have it all, dry in the North, cold in Nuwara Eliya, Kandy, etc. Someone once said that our country as a whole is an entire production location for a movie.

So if we know how to use these locations, we can make really great films.”

 

Short Films

Sachi released his first short film, ‘A Small Miracle’ in December 2012. It’s about a lonely young girl, who sets out for an experiment of her own amidst a raging war. This film was picked up for international distribution by Shorts International, a UK based company that distributes short films around the world. “Ranga Dasanayake is responsible for the music in this film and when Chandran Rutnam saw this, he invited me to work with him as his production assistant, where I gained much experience in professional filmmaking. I really admire him and the work he has carried out is just phenomenal,” said Sachi.

Sachi’s next film, ‘Wildlings Within’ was released in March 2014, and it tells of a young tribesman having to find the courage to prove his worthiness to his elders. It was screened at the Clujshorts Film Festival – Romania, World Arts Film Festival – Florida, USA, PiFAN International Fantasy Short Film Festival – South Korea and Indy Film Fest, World Cinema Shorts – Indianapolis, USA.

In April 2015, ‘HTM’ (Human Transaction Machine) depicted an urban bank worker finding his customer base threatened by the presence of a musician on the street. The festival screenings were at the 27th Filmfest Dresden – Germany, Phoenix Film Festival 2014, World Cinema Shorts- Arizona, USA, the Speechless Film Festival 2014 – Minnesota, USA and Charleston International Film Festival 2015 – South Carolina USA.

‘Garden of Bones’ was released this year in March. It’s about a man who, after accidentally running over a girl by a car, is targeted for revenge by a strange desolate family. It has been screened at the 34th Molins de Rei Horror Film Festival – Spain and the 10th JOGJA-Netpac Asian Film Festival – Indonesia.

 

The Beginning Of LionBorn

It’s easy to become a big fan of Sachi’s illustrations. His depiction of the ‘Yakas’ and some of the folklore characters such as Tikiri Liya are quite fascinating as he portrays them in ways we have never seen before and didn’t imagine. “Many people told me that I should do a comic and I thought why not! So I started experimenting with pages and that’s how LionBorn took off. Again, I didn’t go to any comic training institute; the work was done by me and my colourist, Chris Lissman. LionBorn is based on the story of Sinhabahu, but it’s not a direct adaptation; a lot of creative liberties were taken because I wanted to add more, which is why I chose it in the first place as there is a good storyline, and there isn’t much in the narrative, but considering how important the story is in the Sri Lankan culture, I wanted to showcase an entirely different depiction of the tale,” Sachi revealed.

The main character is Sheerdas, which I’m told means ‘lion arms’ in Parsi and an excellent take on ‘Sinhabahu’ (Sinha – Lion, Bahu – Hands), and the female heroine is Sivali. Sachi also revealed that his reason for not using ‘Sinhabahu’ as his title was that it was difficult for foreigners to pronounce, as the comic is being aimed at an international market as well. “Working on LionBorn has made me appreciate the creators of comic books much more, as I realised first-hand how much effort goes into creating a comic. Illustrating takes quite a bit of time, but I try to do a little work every day, no matter how busy I am. I believe in making as much progress as you can every single day; I have no zero-effort days and even a little effort goes a long way as it makes a big difference in the long run. You also improve in your work as well and it is vital to always focus on something new because if you relax too much after having achieved your goals, where’s the fun in that?” he laughs.

 

Forthcoming

Sachi wishes to keep us guessing as to what his future plans are, but he did elaborate on finalising the next few LionBorn issues. All the copies of the first issue are sold out so you can imagine how good it is. I got a sneak peek at the last LionBorn issue, so envy me everyone! He is also working on a couple of short films and illustration work. He’s got some interesting projects lined up so keep an eye on his Facebook page ‘Filmbox’ for more.

 

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