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Close encounter of written kind
- Spielberg mails bangalore boy over ‘sweet’ tribute

Bangalore, March 7: An Indian teen’s little-more-than-a-minute tribute to Steven Spielberg was so “sweet” that it prompted the master filmmaker to write to the boy.

For Krishna Bala Shenoi, it was his ET moment, an extra-terrestrial feeling that left him weak and wobbly.

Shenoi, a Bangalore-based design student, had made a 75-second tribute to his idol and posted it on the video-sharing site YouTube a week ago.

When Shenoi was fast asleep, a mail landed in his inbox late on Tuesday. It was from Spielberg, who was impressed by the short film and the technique used.

On his minimalist letterhead, Spielberg wrote: “I watched your sweet and respectful short movie. Your image choices and clever transitions gave your tribute film a real narrative.”

The handwritten words were discovered by the 19-year-old yesterday. “I went weak when I saw the email and couldn’t even react,” Shenoi recalls of the first few seconds of receiving the surprise mail that had a soft copy of the handwritten letter attached. He now awaits the hard copy being couriered from Spielberg’s office in California.

“I was shivering. My knees were wobbly. I am so thankful to Steven Spielberg for being gracious enough to have taken the time to write to me such a kind letter. I am convinced that his goodness isn’t restricted to just his films,” said the boy, who as an Indian expat kid schooling in Dubai explored the world of film-making in his room itself with his Sony Handycam.

Twenty-four hours later, the aspiring filmmaker who wants to specialise in editing is still telling himself that the letter is real.

Spielberg wrote that he read about the tribute movie in the Chicago Sun-Times that features the blog of film critic Roger Ebert. Shenoi’s association with Ebert started in 2010 when he was asked by the celebrity film critic to write for his blog.

Since then the teenager has been a “foreign correspondent” for Ebert’s blog.

In making the tribute film, Shenoi used clips from Spielberg’s movies like ET, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park and Lincoln, the biopic on Abraham Lincoln that got Daniel Day-Lewis his Oscar this year for the best actor.

Made over four months in his spare time, Shenoi used the rotoscoping technique to draw the film’s images and then run it like an animation.

Run on 12 drawings per second, he had to draw 600 of them, the remaining 300 frames being taken by the titles.

As an Indian child brought up in a multi-cultural environment in Dubai, Shenoi is almost entirely attuned to Hollywood. “My mother, who paints, introduced me to characters like Spiderman as a child. In Dubai I was entirely hooked to Hollywood movies,” said Shenoi, whose family came back to Bangalore in 2011.

After making his first short film when he was eight, Shenoi knew he had a gift to play with images, graphics and sound. He went on to make nano-films.

“I can’t think of any other filmmaker who appeals to both general audiences and the more serious cinema-goers,” said Shenoi, describing Spielberg.

Another filmmaker who appeals to Shenoi is Manoj Night Shyamalan. “He too has that knack to make trend-setters, although his last few didn’t do well at the box office.”

Like Spielberg’s next, Shenoi is waiting for Night Shyamalan’s After Earth with Will Smith in the lead.

The young man, who struggles for words after his own close encounter of sorts with the master filmmaker, is now focused on the last line of Spielberg’s letter that reads: “I’ll be looking out at the horizon to see where next you will emerge… and impress.”

Shenoi, a student of the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in the city, said: “I am working hard to make it big as I am surrounded by some real talents on the campus and inspirations like this (the letter).”