Footsteps Into Gangland FIG highlighted in Surrey Leader article

FIG highlighted in Surrey Leader article

Posted on Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Happy Holidays everyone!

Footsteps Into Gangland is beginning to receive media attention.

The first official article about my new film was written by Dan Ferguson.  Dan has been supporting my work for the last couple of years.  His faith in me is overwhelming.  It was Dan who wrote one of the first articles on A Warrior’s Religion, my first film, and opened the flood gates of media attention.  I am always very appreciative of his support.

The article was released online via the Surrey Leader website and will be released in hard copy this coming week.

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Keeping it real
By Dan Ferguson – Surrey North Delta Leader
Published: December 30, 2010 4:00 PM

When Mani Amar staged an abduction for his new film, it was realistic enough that some witnesses called 911.

The filmmaker estimates about 20 units of the Surrey RCMP, including a police helicopter and a dog team were dispatched.

Amar isn’t sure why the worried onlookers didn’t notice the film crew that was recording the whole thing, but when someone drove by shouting about a woman being shoved into a van, he realized what had happened and called the police.

“They were pretty unhappy.”

After that, he made a point of alerting the RCMP before he staged anything that looked criminal.

There are a number of such scenes in Footsteps Into Gangland, the new film by the 28-year-old Amar that recently wrapped principal photography.

A just-released trailer shows an abduction, a physical confrontation in a parking lot, a gas station robbery and a police takedown, all as authentic as Amar could make them.

It was important to make the movie as real as possible for Amar, whose previous project was A Warriors Religion, an award-winning documentary about gangsters.

It was just as important for 24-year-old actor Mannu Sandhu, a Surrey resident who plays a victimized teenager caught up in the criminal lifestyle.

Sandhu’s life is nothing like her character’s.

The occasional fashion model has a degree in political science and once worked as an executive assistant to Surrey MP Nina Grewal.

But in her current job as a corrections officer, Sandhu often deals with abused young women like Mya, the troubled 17-year-old she plays.

She says the emotionally intense experience of acting the part has given her new insights into the inner life of young women who have the same mix of fear and anger as Mya.

“I actually felt like I was there, that I was that girl,” Sandhu says.

“It was disturbing”

Amar is full of praise about Sandhu’s commitment to making her portrayal as genuine as possible.

The very first scene he shot was a violent assault on Mya.

It took 39 takes until Amar got the realism he wanted, throwing Sandhu around himself to demonstrate how rough it needed to be.

She is not the only standout performance in the film, Amar adds.

“There’s a lot of young, raw talent out there,” he says.

“They were willing to work for next to nothing. And some of them did work for nothing.”

It was a guerilla-style low-budget shoot in Vancouver, Surrey, Burnaby and Horseshoe Bay with a small crew and a short schedule, but Amar’s insistence on doing as much on location as possible produced unexpected benefits, such as a moment where a passing train sounded its horn at the exact moment a weapon was fired, covering the noise.

“Right when we did the sound cue for the gunshots.”

The moment stayed in the film.

“Sometimes the magic just happens.”

Amar wrote the screenplay for Footsteps during the three years of researching and shooting his documentary.

Based on the extensive research he did for A Warrior’s Religion, his follow-up film aims to present an accurate portrayal of the gangster lifestyle.

Unlike the documentary, which Amar funded himself through a mix of credit cards and working several jobs, he originally had money lined up – a commitment of $98,000 from some would-be backers – for the new film.

Amar was debt-free and in the middle of pre-production when the people with the money read his treatment (a plot summary) and pulled out.

“That’s what credit cards are for,” Amar shrugs.

As he winds up post-production work on Footsteps, Amar is already considering his next project, which could be another documentary, one about infanticide in India.

The official website for the movie is http://www.footstepsintogangland.com/. There is a Footsteps Into Gangland page on Facebook, and updates are posted on Twitter under “filmsoffire.”

dferguson@surreyleader.com

http://www.bclocalnews.com/surrey_area/surreyleader/entertainment/112688969.html

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Shout out to Dan Ferguson for his ongoing support!

Be safe everyone,

mani

photograph of Mani Amar::photographer::Evan Seal::2010
photograph of Mannu Sandhu::courtesy of::Wayne Mah Photography

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