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Cannes
Short Film Corner 2022 
 
Interview

Amar Singh Sethi
Bus Driver
May 13, 2022

A normal journey of a London bus driver transforms into a living nightmare as he finds himself in the middle of a terrorist stand-off between his panic consumed passengers. Lives hang in the balance as he tries to desperately negotiate his way out of the quagmire.

Hello Amar, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?

Thank you for asking. We have just started the Bus Driver Festival run and we are reviving some great feedback. I am currently editing my new film and writing for the next. 

Have you been able to remain positive and creative at least?

I am very positive about showcasing my films and I am constantly writing and drumming up new ideas. 
 
What does it mean for you to be in the Cannes Short Film Corner with Bus Driver and what do you hope to take away from this experience?


I am very humbled for the opportunity of having Bus Driver at the Cannes Short Film Corner.  I guess it’s an opportunity to showcase my work, meet like minded people in the industry and find opportunities to learn from them. 

How vital are platforms like Cannes SFC in championing and supporting the short film format?

Yes I feel platforms like Cannes STC are vital for new filmmakers like myself. These platforms allow new filmmakers to express their stories and vision, and  allow to meet other like-minded industry professionals that are essential to the ongoing progression of creating new films.
 
How did Bus Driver come about, what was the inspiration behind your screenplay?


The film was influenced by my desire to showcase the pre-conceived notions of prejudice behaviour that lives in all of us. In addition to this, when I was 13 years old, I sat at the back of the Bus on the top deck whilst I was in London. Soon into the journey, four men surrounded me, held a gun to my head, and robbed me. I was trapped at the back of the bus and had no way of escaping. This was a terrifying experience that inspired me to write Bus Driver.

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As this is your debut film as writer/director what would you say have been the biggest challenge you faced bringing Bus Driver to life?

Like with any short film, there are certain limitations with time and resources which lead to everybody inputting very long hours in order to ensure the film is conceived to the greatest quality. I couldn't be more grateful to have a wonderful team which believed in the project and was willing to put in the long hours. It was one of the most exciting and exhausting weeks of my life.

You also edited Bus Driver, was that something you had always planned to do, was it hard to remain objective with what to keep in and take out?
 

Yes - I planned to edit Bus Driver. I had to remain objective and create the story with what was shot. I hoped that the edit would achieve the film's intent and I was so glad it did. It also educated me on the challenges the editor can face, and provided me with the necessary tools to provide future collaborating editors with everything they need on our next projects.

How important was it for you to be flexible with the screenplay once you started shooting?

I studied method acting for a number of years, and have always appreciated the fluidity an actor needs, there I was very flexible with the screenplay, and allowed the actors to play and bring the most out of their characters. 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking come from?

I have always had a passion for film. As a child, I used to steal videos from a local film rental shop.  As a band member, I started to shoot our own music videos. Prior to becoming a filmmaker, I was an actor. I've always had a passion for filmmaking and directing films specifically has always felt like a calling in my life. 

British Asian filmmakers are really making a powerful mark not only on British cinema but on the global cinema landscape with Riz Ahmed & Aneil Karia winning Best Short Film Oscar 2022. What more can be done to continue this rise and interest in British Asian filmmakers & narratives?

 

I feel that there are so many stories and perspectives that should and need to be told across the world. It's great to see more British Asian Filmmaker's making their mark within the industry. I hope this inspires more British Asian Filmmakers, as well as people from other minority backgrounds to come forward and make their mark, and tell their stories to the world.

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"I am not afraid of taking on challenges and bending to the expected practical circumstances that are sometimes presented."

 Is it hard not to be discouraged when something doesn’t plan out the way you hoped?

I believe in the organic nature of how a film can take on its own life. I am not afraid of taking on challenges and bending to the expected practical circumstances that are sometimes presented.
 
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve taken away from making Bus Driver?


There was a lot of prep for Bus Driver, however, I think  there can always be more prep. The more the merrier. 

And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Bus Driver?

I guess I’d like the audience to question their own prejudices. To recognise that preconceived assumptions of another human being are not truthful or accurate depictions. It is important that we challenge our own views and how those views affect other people. I believe Bus Driver brings this highly relevant sociological issue to the forefront, and I hope the audience look inward when watching the film on their own prejudices.