Vigneswari (Vicki) and Yahshni (Yash) are two upcoming directors from Singapore who are just setting foot into the industry. We had a chat with the duo to find out more about them, and their interest in films and direction.
Although Vicki and Yash have Diplomas in Building Engineering, and Chemical & Pharmaceutical Technology respectively, it wasn’t long after they started working in their fields that they realized they weren’t content, “mainly because we craved to be in a creative field instead”. The two are clearly both highly-creative individuals, describing their role as filmmakers as being an “author of moving visuals”. Instead of sticking around with their mundane jobs, the two left Singapore so they could pursue film-making in India. Why India? “Mainly because it was much more affordable, and also as India has one of the biggest television and movie industries in the world. So, we went to Chennai to do a 2-year Diploma in Digital Film Making. Then we began working on a Tamil movie, as assistant directors.”
It’s not often that you see young women in the industry, though the trend is slowly but surely changing. The girls are aware of this, but are keen to follow in the footsteps of some of the successful women in media in order to show that it’s not just the men who have the talent to make it: “Today we have more women involved in the film-making process compared to 5 years ago, and it’s almost certain that the numbers will keep rising in years to come. We strongly believe that the quality of work produced by female directors is on par with our male counterparts, even though we lack in quantity. Take, for example, Kathryn Bigelow’s film “The Hurt Locker” – you wouldn’t know it was directed by a female unless you were told! And of course, there’s Nora Ephron, the woman behind some of Hollywood’s rom-coms.”
The two are certainly very clued up about the industry, and especially about the successful women who have made their mark there, but if they had to choose their biggest role models, they narrow it down to two, “Oprah Winfrey…who doesn’t love her? She motivates people to be better humans, and that is what we really love about her. Also, Shonda Rhimes, the creator of a number of hit TV series including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practive and Scandal. It’s a big enough deal to have one hit show on American television, but to have THREE running simultaneously on ABC says a lot about her talent and vision. She inspires us to be better creators, and we’d really love to work with her someday.”
Vicki and Yash already have a number of achievements to their name, including coming second in a competition for Goa Film Festival, where they had to create and advertisement for Natraj Pencils. After completing their diploma, the girls spent time contacting directors, looking for opportunities to assist on set, and their first role came for the film “Thadaiyara Thaakka”, directed by Mr. Magizh Thirumeni. “We had a wonderful time working on the movie. It was a very inspiring experience to be part of a mainstream Tamil movie and to do some real hands-on work behind the camera. Those few months were the best days of our time in Chennai! We learnt so much…like the fact that movie making is not a one-man show. It might be the vision of the director but many others are needed to bring that vision to life. It’s a team effort in which everyone works towards the same goal.”
Is it different seeing a movie from behind the camera, as opposed to on-screen as a member of the audience? “Definitely! From an audience point of view, it’s very easy to criticize a movie. After actually working on a movie though, we saw first-hand the tremendous amount of work that goes into bringing a script to life. Therefore it’s not humane to criticize any movie, even the ones which disappoints you."
So, what’s next for these rising talents? “In the short-term, we want to have our own television show to air in Singapore. In the long-term we hope to direct a movie in a big movie industry such as Hollywood or Bollywood!”
It’s certainly refreshing to see two young individuals who are both passionate and focussed about where they want to be, and we’re certain that they have a bright future ahead of them. Watch this space for more about the girls’ projects!