TERRE HAUTE —
When a project clicks, the moment is clear.
A mechanic solves a misfiring engine and revs it up. A cook serves up lunch to a packed diner crowd and they leave smiling. A teacher gets a struggling student to understand algebra.
Or, a rising young producer helps create a movie that earns an elite spot in the Sundance Film Festival.
Former Terre Hautean Milan Chakraborty finds himself in that situation right now through the film “The Lifeguard.”
Chakraborty and fellow producers Liz W. Garcia (also the writer and director), Mike Landry, Carlos Velazquez and Joshua Harto landed “The Lifeguard” in the U.S. Dramatic Competition category at Sundance — the prestigious festival that draws more than 40,000 film fans, industry insiders and stars to venues in the Utah towns of Park City, Salt Lake City and Ogden each January. The event gives up-and-coming independent filmmakers the chance to showcase their work to a global audience and is best known for its Oscar-winning supporter, Robert Redford.
Chakraborty entered the movie-making profession at age 29. He’s now 34.
“The Lifeguard” is his fourth production. The berth at Sundance, which runs from Jan. 17 to 29, is indeed one of those “click” moments.
“It’s not just about me,” he said, emphasizing the teamwork involved, “but for a producer to get a film into Sundance is kind of a validation of what you’re doing.”
It’s a tough lineup to crack. More than 12,000 films were submitted for the 2013 Sundance festival. Only 142 were selected for its various categories. Just 16 made the cut for the competition level. For more than 30 years, Sundance has exposed audiences to films that became iconic, such as “Reservoir Dogs,” “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “Napoleon Dynamite” and “The Blair Witch Project.”
“The Lifeguard” features a notable acting cast, starring Kristen Bell (of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) as a woman whose work and love life unravel as she approaches age 30 in New York City. She moves back to her Connecticut hometown, reclaims her high school job as a lifeguard and her childhood friends. As a Sundance synopsis puts it, the movie “revels in the fantasy of reverting to a responsibility-free time and cleverly coaxes its characters into the realization that safety can sometimes be a trap.” The cast also includes Mamie Gummer (“Emily Owens, M.D.” and the daughter of Meryl Streep), Martin Starr (“Knocked Up”), Amy Madigan (“Field of Dreams”), David Lambert, Alex Shaffer (“Win Win”) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (“Heroes”).
Chakraborty brings a unique background to his role as a partner in the Hollywood-based Attic Light Films. The 1996 Terre Haute South Vigo High School grad is a certified public accountant, with a degree in accounting from The College of William and Mary. He spent two years in that field with the Arthur Andersen firm, before moving into a job with the internal audit department of Time Warner Inc. Eventually, Chakraborty transferred to the Filmed Entertainment group with Warner Brothers and New Line Cinema.
Using his accounting mind, he specializes in the business side of film production. “I kind of have the aptitude to do the things in film that a lot of people think are boring,” Chakraborty said with a chuckle, in a telephone interview last month. “At the same time, film is not paint-by-numbers.” And that is why he’s surrounded by folks skilled in the creative side of the craft. Thus, the term “independent” film is a bit misleading.
“It’s really one of the most dependent things you can do,” Chakraborty said. “It really does take a village.”
Chakraborty’s home “village” — Terre Haute — has experienced an early sample of his cinematic portfolio. His first film as a producer, “Rock Slyde,” was shown in December 2009 in the Indiana Theatre as a benefit for a memorial in honor of fallen soldier Dale Griffin — Chakraborty’s former South classmate. Chakraborty attended the showing and renewed acquaintances with longtime friends in the audience.
Since “Rock Slyde,” Chakraborty has produced three more movies — “Spaz” (filmed in New York), “Alter Egos” (shot in The Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y.) and “The Lifeguard” (filmed in Pittsburgh). “Alter Egos,” with a superhero plot, is currently being distributed through video-on-demand outlets, Amazon.com and iTunes. “The stories [behind those three follow-up films] just captured me from the first time I read them,” Chakraborty said. The momentum from that trio of films followed a short lull after “Rock Slyde” for Chakraborty, but he never stopped preparing for the next step.
“The way it works is, you have all those plates spinning, then something catches fire,” he explained.
The job keeps him moving. He shuttles between New York and Los Angeles, while making stops to visit his parents, who now live in Georgia. Sundance will take him to Utah, with likely trips to festivals in Berlin and elsewhere. “Home is where the suitcase is,” Chakraborty quipped.
Lately, the click of his suitcase has been joined by the click of movie-making success.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
When a project clicks, the moment is clear.
- Local & Bistate
For Piper: Annual ‘Rush the Punter’ event dedicated to Dixie Bee student who died Wednesday after a short illness
Steve Weatherford’s “Rush the Punter” fundraiser at Fairbanks Park on Saturday was dedicated to a little girl who lost her life unexpectedly to pneumonia.
Vigo schools prepare to tighten belts
State funding for the Vigo County School Corp. will remain “pretty flat” for the next two years, said Donna Wilson, chief financial officer.
Veterans take to the trees
Cristal Bednar took photos of her husband, Justin, as he laboriously climbed his way up a “Dangle-Duo” to get to a zipline at Indiana State University’s Sycamore Outdoor Center.
Property owner seeks halt to Hulman Lake dam project
A Terre Haute property owner is seeking an injunction that would at least temporarily halt the city’s work on the Hulman Lake dam project.
Tornado veterans balance preparedness, practicality
Few things in nature are less predictable than a tornado. They can form quickly. They strike weirdly, leveling one building while leaving its neighbor untouched. They can fling a car a half-mile and turn a piece of lumber into a wall-piercing missile.
ISU unveils interactive Bayh Family Legacy Wall at school
A who’s who of Indiana Democrats paid tribute to Evan Bayh and several generations of the Bayh family Friday during a dedication of a new interactive display at Indiana State University.
Can you smell me now?
A contraband cell phone has been discovered by the Vigo County Jail’s youngest and most unique officer.
GIVING BACK: Steve Weatherford buys shoes for kids day before charity run
Terre Haute’s Steve Weatherford, punter for the 2012 Super Bowl champion New York Giants, showed once again his generosity Friday by donating new athletic shoes to more than two dozen Vigo County kids.
N.Y. Giants honor Weatherford as ‘Man of the Year’
Dan Tanoos, superintendent of Vigo County schools, remembers the first time he saw Steve Weatherford as a freshman at Terre Haute North Vigo High School.
Sunday recital at The Woods
A recital featuring songs from well-known composers is at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Police investigating rash of car window shootings
Terre Haute Police are investigating a rash of shootings that have shattered car windows throughout the city.
City hospitals get passing grades for patient safety
Two Terre Haute hospitals have been ranked for patient safety by an independent organization that assesses safety, quality and affordability of healthcare for Americans.
Three from Operation Turn and Burn sentenced in federal court
Three co-conspirators in a Wabash Valley methamphetamine trafficking ring were sentenced this week to several years in federal prison.
Illinois Senate approves medical marijuana bill
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must decide if he will sign a measure allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes after the state Senate approved legislation today.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 17, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday, based on jail records.
I-70 resurfacing project will close westbound exit ramp
PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the resurfacing project on Interstate 70 will close the westbound exit ramp at Indiana 243 beginning Wednesday May, 22 at about 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. that same day to mill and resurface the ramp.
UPDATE: Fire damages buildings in downtown Greencastle
GREENCASTLE, Ind. — Fire badly damaged several buildings today near the courthouse square in Greencastle, with flames shooting through the roofs as firefighters from several communities were called in to the central Indiana city to help.
Get outside this Memorial Day weekend
Although DNR campgrounds and cabins at state parks, state reservoirs and recreation areas are booked to capacity for Memorial Day weekend, some shelters remain available for picnics and other day-use gatherings.
Skateboarders, BMX bike riders working to improve area of city park they use
The sound of small wheels rolling across smooth concrete fills the air, accented by the clacking noise of a wooden skateboard coming to an instant stop on a metal edge before rolling on again.
Indiana State to host 2014 MVC baseball tourney
Build it… and they will come. The Missouri Valley Conference and Indiana State University made that famous line from the movie “Fields Of Dreams” reality Thursday.
Overlay recommended for 812 area code
The state agency that represents Hoosier utility customers is calling for a ten-digit solution to southern Indiana’s vanishing supply of 812 area code telephone numbers.
Elementary school saddened by student’s death
A 9-year-old Dixie Bee Elementary student died unexpectedly Wednesday evening as the result of pneumonia, said Vigo County Coroner Susan Amos on Thursday.
Vermillion CSX crossings undergoing maintenance
CSX maintenance crews are working on railroad crossings between Dana and Chrisman, Ill. this week and next, a CSX official said Thursday.
Beware of scams everywhere
Ever get a phone call in the middle of the night from a person claiming to be your grandchild, who unfortunately has been jailed in Canada and needs bail money?
INDOT to start work on Indiana 163 in Vermillion County
Maintenance crews will begin a pavement preservation project Monday on Indiana 163, between Indiana 63 and the Illinois state line west of Clinton.
Union Hospital community garden spots now available
Community gardening spots are now available at the Union Hospital Community Garden for Wabash Valley residents interested in planting and maintaining a garden but may not have the space. The garden is located west of the intersection of North Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue in Terre Haute at 1430 N. Sixth St.
Correctional officer remembered at memorial
Greene County native and Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Officer Timothy Betts was honored during a memorial ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Money donated for Dresser sculpture
100+ Women Who Care of Vigo County on Thursday awarded a $20,200 grant to Art Spaces that will help make the Paul Dresser sculpture, “A Song for Indiana,” a reality.
Powerball jackpot quickly jumps to $550 million
The Powerball jackpot jumped to $550 million on Thursday — the third largest lottery in history — as dreamers in all but the seven states where the game isn’t played snatched up tickets for the minuscule chance at a life on easy street.
School bus carrying special-needs kids rolls over
INDIANAPOLIS — A school bus carrying special-needs students rolled over today on a highway near Indianapolis, injuring a dozen people including five children, state police said.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- For Piper: Annual ‘Rush the Punter’ event dedicated to Dixie Bee student who died Wednesday after a short illness