An Interview With Filmmaker Raghu Gudiveti About Work And Safety On Set

"Never stop trying to improve your work through study, it’s never too late. Long term career planning includes taking charge of your abilities, and making the time for acquiring the skills you need to succeed".

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Filmmaker Raghu Gudiveti
Filmmaker Raghu Gudiveti

Hello Raghu it’s great catching up with you again. First of all, how have you been coping with changes in filming schedules and protocols due to covid-19 and how has life drastically changed for you? Good and bad:

So far 2020 and 2021 have been really good for me. I have been fortunate enough to be working on a couple of reality TV shows as an editor and worked on a food documentary for season 2. Season 1 was popular for its specialties in pasta and we will be doing a few more episodes in the coming month. 2020 has been really great in terms of work and I also had time to balance it with my personal life, finding a month or two to just have some holiday (me time). I also went to Florida to my cousin’s place and just had a blast there. I came back in August 2020 in high spirits and ended up working for a YouTube social media content production company. With a year like 2020, it has brought its own challenges in everybody’s lives with the Covid-19 pandemic. But as I have mentioned before, I have been fortunate enough to find editing gigs and Thank GOD to all those contacts I made when I was in school and a couple of years after my graduation. Since 2020 I have been working from home and have my editing station set up to where I can cut my own footage, which has been really been amazing. However, the inaccurate information about working from home that people are spreading, is that employees are being forced into even work more hours, which is absolutely not true -at least not with me. We have strict hours we follow and then some work places are also incorporating personal hours where all the office staff can chat, even if it’s virtually which makes us feel less isolated. In times like these, I am reminded again and again that when you are doing what you love, those 9-5 hours you/we put in daily, don’t feel like long stressful hours at all.

In the tragic wake of the Halyna Hutchins shooting, do you think there needs to be new rules put into place due to unsafe firearm knowledge on film sets, etc?

Firstly my sincere condolences to the family members of Halyna Hutchins. A wonderful artist and a wonderful mother as well. What happened on the film set of “Rust” reminds us all how extremely important these set safety protocols are to be put in place, whether it is on a movie or TV show. There are so many protocols and safety measures that we as crew members would need to follow and I hoping I am wrong, but it looks like the crew members responsible for double checking the prop guns didn’t check it thoroughly on the set -the one Alec Baldwin used during the film shoot. I know finger pointing now doesn’t change the fact that the industry has lost an amazing artist in Halyna, but props like these (guns) or any other deadly weapon that can be harmful and cause injuries to talent or any crew members, need to be thoroughly checked before attempting to shoot or even during before rehearsals begin as well. I have seen movies with much bigger budgets as this technique with a very solid transparent looking glass to shoot such POV style shot with actors holding guns. These can provide much more safety to DP’s and the crew members standing next to the cinematographer. I hope this becomes a compulsory precaution for such scenes like how the intimacy coordinator is now a key crew member for lovemaking scenes for a movie of any scale.

Do you feel like you have grown a lot more as an artist over the years, through your experiences?

Since my move to LA in 2016, these past 3 and half years have been a blast. I was fortunate enough to start working right after I finished my masters and as an editor, projects I have worked on so far, have made me a better person. You’ve got to have faith in something bigger than what is on your own canvas. Art is how you express it, but the idea has to be bigger than you. One of my favorite spiritual quotes is, “I know not where He leadeth, but I know who is my guide.” You cannot continue to do good editing in the long term, without a constantly renewable source of inspiration and support. You must believe in something that will give you a foundation no matter what successes and failures, triumph and heartaches land at your door.

What has been one of your favorite projects to work on so far?

It’s tough to answer that because editing is something that I really love doing and the projects I choose, I really do my best to make sure the movie or series I work on, has the best possible portrayal that creators envisioned for. I also like to cook as well on side whenever I get free time, I am a big foodie. I love trying new foods all the time, like on my recent documentary about various shapes and types of pastas on season 2. Given the documentary’s popularity for season 1 now we have a much bigger responsibility to make season 2 feel more fresh and we have so many cool looking, finger licking shots in this season too which always makes me drool when I am editing (Hehehehe). Season 2 is all about pastas as well and it will make the viewers think “oh we knew nothing about pastas” and to be honest I myself thought there was not much to know about pasta but the techniques that go into it, is just fascinating. So yes, season 2 is something I am very excited for viewers to check out. It will be airing soon!

What has been one of the biggest highlights/achievements of your career?

You are asking some tough questions! I guess even this is harder to answer or maybe difficult to put into words the right way, as after each project you want to try to do better than the previous project. I really like to challenge myself in that way and so far, my recent Quibi show about pastas was the best highlight of my career. It made me realize more why I do this job or why I chose editing as my career. Once the career you are in, feels more like a 9-5 job, then you are not loving what you do. So in that sense this show made me realize that. Perhaps I just feel this way because I am a big foodie. Heheh!

Who has been one of your favorite editors you have worked with so far and why?

Not long ago I worked on a Christmas feature movie project where because of the content they shot and the deadline they had, the team had to bring in 2 editors for this movie called “A Stone Cold Christmas”. It’s a TV movie so everything was scheduled very well and the time management was very crucial, I was just making my transition from reality TV to features, so working with film editor john Quinn (Lake Placid, The Grudge, Into The Dark-Hulu series), he taught me about many things including how the cutting works for TV features and TV series and how they are all different in terms of scheduling and the way you approach them. He is like my mentor and I still reach out to him if I have any doubts about my current project or anything else. I just like to hang out with him and have these conversations about movies and different editing styles.

What other projects do you have coming up?

Right now I am working on few social media related projects and I am also simultaneously working on 4 other music videos for indie rappers as an editor. I am also supposed to jumpstart as an editor soon on a non-scripted YouTube series which is scheduled for a Christmas 2021 release, online. I am also wrapping up a couple of commercials, which are for corporate multinational companies with whom I have worked in the past. Their products are very well established in the Asian market as well as a few regions of Europe as well. Right now I cannot give any more details about the project itself, but it will be very exciting when everyone will get to see them released. I cannot wait for that day to come.

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring artists?

My advice to upcoming editors or any filmmakers is to not just completely rely on hard-work the industry, but they are looking for smart and intelligent working people as well. I know many others from my networking field who are really good at what they do and every day they are trying to make themselves better and are completely based on just hard work. So all I can advise to upcoming filmmakers especially the editors out there, is to use your professional side and always be prepared. Never stop trying to improve your work through study, it’s never too late. Long term career planning includes taking charge of your abilities, and making the time for acquiring the skills you need to succeed.

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