With the Republic of India turning 75 years old this August, I (Amar Kate, Creative Producer) was presented with an opportunity to be a part of a project named “India-UK Creative Industries at 75: Opportunities and Challenges”. This project aimed to network 30 artists from India and UK to have a dialogue amongst each other for a better understanding of challenges and opportunities encountered by the artists from the two countries. And thus, my journey in this nine month long project began in February.
I was part of the Screen Industries strand wherein artists with different and diverse backgrounds with years of experience were present. In our first ever online meet within our own strand, we introduced ourselves and learned a bit about each other and throughout this process we connected with our subgroup that was formed later within the same strand.
I was then put into a subgroup which included Pritt Kalsi, an award winning artist from the UK who has many years of experience in the creative industry and wears many hats other than being a filmmaker, and a team from Harkat Studios, an international boutique arts studio based in Mumbai with a passion for film, new media, community art spaces and contemporary art. Harkat's team had two people named Mashitshila Longkumer and Sapan Taneja.
Even though I was one of the youngest member in the entire creative industries project, my group didn't make me feel like one. I still recall the day where my subgroup conducted our first meeting. We had made a document beforehand as to what topics we were going to cover during the meeting. We had shared it amongst ourselves before so that our entire sub-group could read through it, and we then could be more efficient in our meetings. Since we had to coordinate between two different time zones and three different cities.
Within a couple of meetings, my group had already decided upon its creative output. We had finalized to create a short interview format documentary which talked about the life of immigrants/indigenous/non-native people. For our creative output, me along with Harkat studio shot and produced a documentary about Aqui, an indigenous woman who is an artist, who has now settled in Mumbai and how her life has been since she moved here. Apart from this Pritt had interviewed Gurmail Kaur, an Indian immigrant now settled in UK as a citizen of UK.
For both our interviews with both Aqui and Gurmail Kaur, we had prepared questions beforehand that were discussed and finalised by our subgroup. While shooting Aqui's interview we had ensured that even Pritt while being in the UK was present via video call throughout our shoot. And even Pritt ensured the same when shooting with Gurmail Kaur in the UK. We ensured that the flow of our edits were that of a story format rather than that it being a sit down interview. We had asked both Aqui and Gurmail Kaur to prepare dishes that were really close to their culture and that has been with them for generations.
It was a one of a kind experience as it is rare that one gets an opportunity to work with artists from different countries. The entire project was also a big stepping stone of my professional career as I got to learn about so many different artists who were a part of this project and about their work, their experience, their work culture and a bit about their personal life as well. Out there in the world where clients and even senior industry experts don't value a young professional's opinion, the people in the project not only did value my opinion but also took many of my suggestions into consideration. It is where I was valued for the work that I had done previously and not undermined because of my age.
At the final showcase when me and my group presented our creative output to the entire project team of 30 artists and other audiences that were present, we were really mesmerized with all the responses we had received to our documentaries. We were really proud of what we had managed to do sitting across two different continents and collaborating via online mediums.