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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
TERRE HAUTE —
When a project clicks, the moment is clear.
- Local & Bistate
Christmas in the Park: Judges survey lights; troop 200 comes out on top
The rockin’ snowmen were singing “I can’t get no satisfaction,” but they won first place anyway.
Board of Works: Sewage fees waived on Indiana 46
The Terre Haute Board of Works and Public Safety approved a memorandum of understanding Monday between the board and the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment to waive sewer connection fees along part of Indiana 46/U.S. 40 on the city’s east side to promote future development.
VCSC Board approves oil, Pepsi contracts, gets ‘beard fund’
The Vigo County School Board approved a six-year exclusive agreement with Refreshments Services Pepsi and an oil and gas license with Pioneer Oil during Monday’s School Board meeting.
Agency seeks help for homeless
A Terre Haute agency that works to help homeless people hopes that other groups wanting to help will get involved to better document the needs in the Wabash Valley.
2 days, 2 fatal car wrecks in Parke County
The Parke County Sheriff’s Department has investigated two fatal accidents over the past two days, at least one caused by black ice, authorities say.
Tribune-Star staff takes awards for writing, editing, design
The Tribune-Star won three first-place awards among Indiana newspapers with a daily circulation between 18,001 and 39,999 in the 2013 Hoosier State Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
Aviation plant noted for safety system
GE Aviation in Terre Haute has earned the Voluntary Protection Program Merit Certification for implementing safety systems that identify, evaluate, prevent and control occupational hazards to prevent employee injuries and illnesses.
Ivy Tech board awards renovation contract
Renovation of the Learning Achievement Building for the use of diesel technology gained unanimous approval Monday from Ivy Tech Community College Wabash Valley’s Board of Trustees.
Jury selection begins for death of inmate
Jury selection began Monday afternoon for a Terre Haute man accused of involuntary manslaughter in January.
James Madison Ross IV, 40, appeared in Vigo Superior Court 1 with defense attorney Christopher Shema.
Rockville man on run found, arrested
A Rockville man faces criminal charges after a domestic disturbance and a three-hour manhunt.
Battery, stabbing suspects face charges
The condition has improved for a Terre Haute man who sustained severe head injuries in an assault on Friday afternoon.
Man picked out of lineup, charged with armed robbery
A Terre Haute man faces two counts of armed robbery stemming from a November incident in which two men were robbed at gunpoint near 10th and Locust streets.
Teen hero, 16, fatally shot in Indiana home
An Indiana teenager who helped save two children after they fell into an icy reservoir in 2010 was killed Sunday in a shooting in an Indianapolis suburb.
Indianapolis boy dies after collapsing in snow
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Police in Indianapolis say a seventh-grade boy has died after apparently collapsing and being found face down in the snow.
Vigo County Jail Log: Dec. 9, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, based on jail records.
Baseball Hall bypasses Tommy John once again
Baseball Hall of Fame electors bypassed Tommy John again.
The Terre Haute-born pitcher who won 288 games in 26 big-league seasons didn’t receive enough votes from the Veterans Committee as they cast ballots on Sunday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings.
Freezing rain causes road troubles across Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Freezing rain across much of central and northern Indiana coated roads with ice overnight, contributing to many crashes.
Honor awaits 181st Intelligence Wing
As he sat on his mother’s lap inside the Air National Guard Base at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field on Sunday, little Henry Shultz was all smiles as he waited for the start of a ceremony recognizing his father’s service to the community and the country.
‘The mind is a dark forest’
If you hadn’t noticed by reading this newspaper or hearing me crow about it myself, I have another collection of stories out in print.
MAUREEN HAYDEN: Hoosiers’ priorities vs. legislators’ agenda
Every year at about this time, Statehouse reporters like me ask lawmakers what their priorities will be for the coming year.
Restaurant Inspections: Dec. 9, 2013
Operation Warm Christmas: Giving warmth
Crews from a Wabash Valley heating and cooling business traveled in two different directions — one went north and the other south — during the early, cold Saturday hours with one mission for the day: to bring warmth to two Terre Haute homes this season.
Small tax, big Statehouse fight
Who would have believed that old fork lifts, barber chairs and aging computers could capture the attention of so many folks around the state?
‘A part of living history is now gone’
With the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost a “giant of history” whose fight for justice and spirit of forgiveness continue to serve as an inspiration to many, say those familiar with his legacy.
Pepsi, oil and gas agreements on School Board agenda
The Vigo County School Board will consider an agreement with Pepsi and an oil and gas license with Pioneer Oil when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday.
Q&A: Wabash Valley legislators reply to questions on business tax proposal
Wabash Valley legislators reply to questions on business tax proposal
Indiana lawmakers face ambitious agenda in short session
Lawmakers are crafting an aggressive agenda for the new year that includes a tax break for businesses, preschool funding for the poor, road spending and a divisive constitutional amendment — all packaged into a so-called “short session” of the Legislature.
Victim of Friday battery still in critical condition
The 34-year-old man who sustained severe injuries in connection to a battery incident Friday afternoon in the 2100 block of Locust Street in Terre Haute was still in critical condition as of Saturday morning, authorities said.
One man injured, one man arrested after Saturday morning stabbing
One man was injured in a stabbing Saturday morning at an extended-stay facility in Terre Haute’s north side, police said.
Sifting the ashes: Prairie Creek First Baptist Church
The cause of a late Thursday fire that destroyed a 137-year-old church sanctuary may never be known due to the intensity of the blaze.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Christmas in the Park: Judges survey lights; troop 200 comes out on top