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Rex Dane: Driven by a misunderstood passion
Passion, says the dictionary, is an intense, driving, or overmastering feeling or conviction. It is that spark that gives us humans the strength to fight against all odds. Passion is what drives both the creator, Rex Dane, and the titular character of his award-winning short film “Shiva”.
Raised in Kolkata, Dane always loved acting. As a young teen, he would play scenes in front of the mirror. His parents, however, says Dane did not understand their son’s love for the craft and mistook it for schizophrenia. This resulted in Dane’s battle with addiction and career pursuits far removed from the craft he loved. His journey took him from India to Australia, and finally to the U.S. Along the way, Dane picked up a Bachelor of Arts and an advanced Master’s degree with dual specializations in applied finance and accountancy. He even did a short stint as a cop. But through all of this, his love for acting persisted.
When art imitates life
It was that love for the craft, and the struggles that he endured through the years that made him pen a 108-page screenplay titled “Shiva”. In it, Dane tells the story of Shiva Chatterjee, a successful Hollywood actor whose life is rough, but he never gives up on his dreams. Shiva fights against seemingly insurmountable odds – unsupportive parents, a stint in the mental institution, homelessness, extreme poverty, ridicule due to his accent, bullying, and unrequited love. He withstands it all. However, now, at the pinnacle of his success, Shiva faces a foe that he cannot beat.
Breaking down barriers
Dane was confident that his script has the potential to be a great movie. He understands Shiva in a way no one else can – in many ways, Shiva’s life mirrors his own struggles.
However, he had little success pitching his script to production houses. Most turned the script down, saying Dane wasn’t a professional screenwriter. After multiple rejections, he started to send his screenplay to screenwriting competitions and film festivals. The screenplay won several awards, including 10 wins and five nominations.
The awards got production houses interested in his idea, but they shied away from it as soon as Dane said that he wanted to star as Shiva. No one was willing to risk an unknown face on the poster.
Down but not out, Dane created a short teaser film. He was the producer, director, and lead actor. The trailer won multiple awards, including Best Actor at the Rome International Movie Awards, Best Actor at the Heart of Europe International Film Festival, Best Actor at the World Film Carnival in Singapore, Best Microfilm at the Vegas Movie Awards, and many more.
The trailer begins with a man introducing himself as Shiva Chatterjee in a distinguishable Bengali accent. In coke-bottle glasses, greased hair, and tattered clothes, the man looks lost. A voice in the background ridicules him for daring to dream to be an actor. The next scene cuts to Dane in a suit when he asks someone if they know who he is. With that one scene, he establishes that he is now a success, a known face. The rest of the trailer promises a roller-coaster of emotions.
The trailer is crisply edited, transitioning from one scene to another seamlessly. Rousing music keeps the viewer hooked. Dane shows us that he is an adept actor, transitioning not just in his looks but also in his body language, accent, voice, and mannerisms.
The trailer hints at a deeply troubled man, who is teetering on the brink of a complete collapse. There is a sense of impending doom hanging in the air. Emotions are running high, the characters are distraught, and all through it, there is a palpable sadness. In a mere one minute forty-six seconds, Dane pulls the viewers in, making them wonder what this story is all about.
Bathed in shades of red, gray, and green, the intriguing poster calls it “An Unfinished Love Story,” which only adds to the overarching sense of tragedy and loss that the trailer reflects.
Dane is on the lookout for producers and directors who will take his passion project to the big screen.