Spending past summers in Hollywood and working on movie sets, Mukherjee recently shot a documentary on a NFL referee for the Super Bowl. It was there where he attended an Eagles game and directed his own documentary film, titled “The Heart of Football” on Bill Vinovich for Yale. Returning to BC in the fall, the YouTuber-turned-filmmaker arrived with a better vision for crafting his own short film.
Mukherjee wrote the script for “Love, Ruben” one night in Bapst Library last year. The project has taken off since then—with initial casting completed in Mar. 2014 and shooting wrapped this past fall. Mukherjee then recruited Alfred Bolden, A&S ’16, and Ramsey Khabbaz, A&S ’17, to assist him with camera work. Largely funded out-of-pocket and with the help of BC production equipment, “Love, Ruben” is the first short film written, produced, and directed by Mukherjee.
Unbeknownst to Mukherjee, however, his short film was submitted to the fourth annual Boston Film Fest and selected as one of nine finalists for the screening this year. Although over 50 entries are submitted each year for consideration, Mukherjee is the first student filmmaker from BC to be selected as a finalist since the festival’s inception.
“Film has always been a big part of my life. I’ve always had an eye for it and it’s a way for me to find a positive way for me to spread a message and put my views into film.”
Short film is a large step away from his early beginnings on YouTube, Mukherjee said. While viral videos gain large notoriety with minimal planning, he has put over fifty hours of organizing and grunt work into “Love, Ruben” over the span of several months. “For the professional stuff, you can’t forget the story,” Mukherjee said. “When you watch a short film, you don’t think about casting or logistics, you think about whether you like it or not.”
While Mukherjee started off making and editing videos for other students in high school, film became a vehicle for him to channel his emotions and creative energy all on his own.
The recently compiled 10-minute film “Love, Ruben” details the tragic story of the eponymous Ruben (Matt Appleby, A&S ’15) as he grapples with the death of his girlfriend through modes of artistic expression. For Mukherjee, the message of the film hits close to home.
“The main point of the film is that he uses art to cope with the death of his girlfriend, but that can be applied to any stress or negativity,” Mukherjee said. “He vents his sadness and frustration through his art and channels that to do something good. That’s the experience I’ve had with film.”
In Mukherjee’s case, art imitates life. Loosely based off of himself, the character of Ruben was crafted with personal experiences in mind. Screenwriting, for Mukherjee, involves writing from what he knows and fabricating the rest. He stresses that while the death of a girlfriend is something he has never had to experience, the emotions that stem from it are grounded in reality.
“I didn’t focus on the death,” Mukherjee said. “I needed to have something that was powerful enough that people would listen. If she was gone, Ruben has to find something to do with his sadness.”
For Mukherjee, the most important message to take away from the film is the importance of having a creative outlet. When he wrote the script during a low point in his life, Mukherjee channeled his negative emotions into screenwriting and crafting something productive. He believes that what his viewers can take away from the film is that emotions, whether good or bad, can serve as the driving force behind creative expression.
“A lot of that [the film] is real,” Mukherjee said. “People always say writers write what they know and I agree with that 100 percent. Everything you’ve seen on film somehow relates back to personal experience.”
In the recent months since the film’s Dec. 2014 release, “Love, Ruben” has garnered mainly positive to mixed reception. Mukherjee explains that while his friends and family loved the film, directing a student film often has its shortcomings in funding and lacking professional cameras and equipment.
The end goal is to make feature-length films. While Mukherjee has another short film and documentary in the works—set to release in the next few months—he dreams of working with Sony Pictures or Warner Bros. someday and producing feature-length films with meaningful messages.
“My biggest goal with film is to have a kid come up to me one day and tell me that my movie changed his life.”
Featured Image By Drew Hoo / Heights Editor