Editor Vishnu Perumal

There are a number of well-known sayings which lend themselves to the idea that the world is eternally balancing itself out: “When one door closes, another opens” or to put it in more scientific terms, Newton’s third law which states, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Speak with anyone involved in the entertainment industry and they will expound on its fulfillment and creative empowerment as well as the challenges it brings. They will also communicate the absence of a “normal” life that it demands. No one knows this better than those who are editors. While much of the production process is collaborative and social, editors are those who weave and bind the stories which are created…doing so in a small solitary room by themselves (with intermittent appearances from the director and producers of said productions). Vishnu Perumal has spent a large portion of his life in this type of surrounding and concedes that while it extracts a certain social content from his life, he wouldn’t have it any other way. In accordance with Newton’s law, the lack of public/personal interaction has led Perumal to working on productions which resonate with social overtones and elicit a reaction with critics and viewers to perceive and often alter their views on a number of controversial topics. This is an obvious sign of the excellence of Vishnu’s abilities as well as the balance of influence one person can have on society even if they are removed from direct communication.

Life experiences gained through travel often create empathy for those who do not share our same background. Born in Kuantan, Malaysia, moving to Jakarta, Indonesia and then attending school in Singapore gave a young Vishnu an up close understanding of the similarities and differences that different cultures and peoples offer. This perspective gave Perumal keen insight when accepting the position as editor of the film “Only Light.” The clashing of different cultures and what is perceived as reality was a key factor in this story. The timely and frightening film juxtaposes the lives of two young women in its portrayal of the realistic and all too prevalent occurrence of sex trafficking. This tale of two young women in the suburbs, one kept prisoner in a basement as a sex slave and the other who is unaware of this situation right next door to her, won several awards including the Audience Choice Award and the Social Impact Award at the One Lens Film Festival in 2014 (among others). Vishnu describes, “During the post-production process, the director and I discussed various ways of telling the story through the edits. We wanted a stylistic film that stood out from other short films but we also did not want the style to overshadow the message. Through a lot of planning, trial and error, and experimentation, we were able to find a perfect balance of style and substance. We didn’t want to just tell the story, we wanted the audience to simultaneously feel the experiences of each of these young women to understand how different and yet how close their worlds were.”

Only Light Trailer from Evita Castine on Vimeo.

Equally as gripping and shocking is “Violet Hour”, the drama which tells the story of a young man from South Los Angeles who makes a fateful decision while struggling to cure his sexuality. The Film gained considerable success, screening in various film festivals and winning accolades at the 2014 Princeton Film Festival and nominations at The San Francisco Black Film Festival for Best Film. Mark Allen (Director of Violet Hour) professes, “Working alongside Vishnu throughout the duration of the project was a wonderful experience. It is rare to find an editor with as much thoughtfulness, support and passion. What he demonstrated for the project was evident in the final product and success of the film. Vishnu's emphasis on storytelling provided the film a powerful tone and ending.”

Found footage has become a popular method of storytelling in the past decade and a half and Vishnu has had extensive work utilizing this approach as an editor. Using his expertise in “The Devil I know”, he skillfully presented the events (part reality and part fictionalized) of founder and leader of the People’s Temple (and massacre) Jim Jones. The result, was a visually challenging story with an engaging narrative that left audiences feeling mesmerized. “The Devil I Know” received international attention with screenings in 2017 at the Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival and the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.

One of the most important facets in the evolution of the entertainment industry has been the manner in which productions are received and thus created in the industry. Cable TV, internet subscriptions services, and even social media based productions have become not only valid but also some of the most popular types of productions. As a new generation reveals their preferred manner of viewing and types of stories they enjoy, the industry embraces these avenues. Vishnu served as an editor on “Sexcapades” a web-based series about some very uncomfortable traits of modern dating as well as editing/creating the web based promos/interview for the perennial reality TV show “COPS.” This new manner of delivering entertainment contains a bit of a Wild West approach as the industry tests boundaries to see what connects with an audience and how it does so effectively. Perumal communicates, “I love the creative aspect of the entertainment industry, where people tell stories in the most unique or interesting ways possible. I also love the attention to detail that people put in their art. Before coming into this industry I would take things for granted and wouldn't realize how much work gets actually put into making a film. Whether it’s detail in the edits, performance, camera, etc., I now realize that that extra bit of detail that I may have missed or thought of as insignificant as an audience is actually essential in selling the fantasy of the narrative, and that every bit of detail that creatives put into their art goes into helping us as audience members sink into that fantasy when watching a film.”

While Vishnu embraces the new platforms which allow him to be at the forefront of editing, he confirms that feature films are always attractive to him, regardless of the type of production. Comedies, romance, documentaries, all types of productions in a long form present the opportunities and challenges which hone one’s skill in the industry. Relating why he finds the genre inconsequential, Perumal states, “My prime attention to any project that I undertake has always centered around one aspect: the story. To me the aspect of storytelling and making a film/video are essentially fused; one cannot exist without the other. I bring a critical eye to the table and help the director navigate through the footage that best describes his/her vision and the intended story. Since my first initiation into the field of film-making, I have made it a principle to integrate myself into the many creative aspects of the production process, so I am very much aware of the entire production process.”

Experience, versatility, and talent are the traits which recently led Charleville Films to sign on Vishnu to edit the three projects. The first of these is an untitled upcoming feature documentary film directed by James Bolton focusing on the very real fight for his life after ingesting a common pharmaceutical that severely crippled his body and his health. The film chronicles Bolton's uphill battle to recovery and his fight to bring into focus the dangers of certain pharmaceuticals as well as his fight against the pharmaceutical industry. “Wheels” is a feature film based on the true story of a musician on the cusp of becoming a household name (and on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine) when a car accident puts an abrupt end to his music career, leaving him a quadriplegic. Vishnu will also serve as editor for the upcoming film “A Secret Life” Based on the bestselling Novel by Benjamin Weiser, this film follows the true life story of Ryszard Jerzy Kukliński, a Polish Colonel and Cold War spy who helped the CIA gain valuable intelligence on some of the highest levels of government from within the communist regime.

Vishnu Perumal’s body of work vets him as one of the most talented and eclectic young editors with a wide array of productions to his credit. The solitary state of his work environment empowers him rather than prevents him to make a more impactful public commentary. The editor himself relates, “The best thing about being an editor is the calmness of the position. Unlike any position that takes place on set, as an editor, I am able to calmly work in the editing suite and finish my tasks without being bothered by anyone. There is also a sense of solving a puzzle when editing, constantly looking for footage that fits on the timeline and figuring the best structure of an edit. I get to work with my brain in peace while being creative.”

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