5 minute read

Q&A with Krishan Sharda

Krishan Sharda is the first winner of the FARID x XTRA.art competition. We had a little chat with the aspiring director about what the future holds.

Q: What type of art most interests you?

A: Growing up, my passions lay within the creative mediums. I found film an amazing mixture of such mediums: art, music, photography and performance. For analysing performances on screen to educating myself n the technical craft behind the camera, film-making has been my passion from a young age. I see being a Film Director as the link between departments on set; being the driving force of a crew. I am eager to progress in this department as I feel my skillset and confident personality suits the job rule. 

Q: How did you first get into filmmaking?

A: At the age of 16, I began my A-levels and was daunted by the prospect of higher education. I had chosen a variety of academic and creative subjects but was unsure where they would take me. I came across the BFI Film Academy, a 6-week introductory filmmaking course held every Saturday. This course gave me the focus and motivation to pursue a career in film. I was excited to finish school every week to attend this course on a Saturday. Once finished, I quickly learned: in order to pursue a career I film I would need a foot in the door. With no real contacts in the industry I was motivated to develop the network and experience to allow me to progress as a filmmaker and freelancer. I have since volunteered to work on as many short films as possible, starting off as a Runner, then as a production designer, and now as a Producer and First Assistant Director. I have now worked on over 20 short and student productions to date.

Q: What are some challenges you've faced in the industry and how have you surmounted them?

A: Finding bigger and more prestigious opportunities to develop my skills has been difficult. Returning to school, I kept in contact with those who had ran the and instructed the BFI course. It took a lot of correspondence, but after months of emailing and searching around for opportunities to do with anything film related eventually I was offered work experience with Creative Media Skills, a company within Pinewood studios who run masterclasses on filmmaking. However, another challenge presented itself to me: I could not afford to pay for a course. I ended up arranging to work for free in the office photocopying and making tea and coffee in return for a place on one of their course.

While on my placement with Creative Media Skills, the networking continued; I would spend my lunch breaks venturing around Pinewood handing out CVs to production offices, workshops and crew members in the hope I could gain some more work in the studio. This took confidence and people skills, something I feel is needed as a Director. Throughout the summer of 2016, I continued to gain placements at Pinewood working as a runner for a company called Actors Studios, who made high end showreels for actors, helping out on short films made by the Iver Makeup Academy and working as a trainee painter and prop maker for Pinewood Creative. I also worked on as many short and student productions as possible in a variety of departments, seeing them as a great opportunity to learn and meet people to make films with. Perseverance and flexibility really helped me when faced with such obstacles.

All the experience I had gained at Pinewood and throughout the summer of 2016 allowed me to build up a solid foundation of contacts to keep gaining experience but unfortunately not get paid for it, I had such a good time working throughout that summer that I came to the decision, to not attend university but following the career of a freelancer. Alongside school I had a Saturday job as a sports coach which I feel has given me the skillset to become a good Director —needing leadership, good communication and lots of energy. Throughout my last year of sixth form I continued to gain experience, working on short films as a Production Assistant and also gaining paid work on higher end professional productions such as Hard Sun (BBC), I had been gaining paid work in the prop department but this was not the department I wanted to work in so often when on jobs as a prop trainee I would introduce myself to the Assistant Directors looking for more hopeful work.

Q: What do you see as an integral event in your career to date?

A: In February of 2017, when helping to run a BFI course at Pinewood, I introduced myself to an Assistant Director who helped me gain some daily work on a feature film titled Solo: A Star Wars Story. I worked there as an Assistant Director, a position I was ecstatic about, however it was only work which would occur for around one day every several weeks. Since then, I have gained more work as a Set Personal Assistant on Johnny English 3 and Mamma Mia. I am eager to gain a full contract on a film as I feel this would be a huge stepping stone for me. I am grateful for all experience I’ve gained, starting with my position on Solo. I hope to one day become a full Director, and eventually produce my own films, as I have experience creating and producing my own short films alongside many other young filmmakers and BFI alumni.

Q: What skills have you developed through your time in the film industry and how might these apply to future positions?

A: I feel my experience in a variety of departments has benefited me as a filmmaker as I have a much better understanding of the production process: working as a Trainee Painter and Prop Maker/Dresser helped me understand the hard work put into preproduction, then getting experience as a Production Assistant on short films allowed me to work with a variety of departments on set (helping the sound, camera and lighting departments). Understanding these departments has made me a better Assistant Director as we have to coordinate and work with all members of a film set. My experience working as a PA on feature films in the last year has given me the drive to work as a Set PA on a full production. I feel I have the right experience behind me to be able to cope and understand the disciplines of a film set but still have much more to learn, which I feel is the most exciting part of this opportunity, thinking how much I would learn. Each and every opportunity I am given I treasure, as I have built my network and career from the ground up. I was excited to work on £500 budget short films shot in the director’s back garden so being given this opportunity would a be life changing experience that I would value and appreciate. I am motivated to succeed and I aim to bring that energy to each and every film set I work on.

Many of the skills I learn when on set for higher end productions I apply to being a Producer and First Assistant Director on smaller projects. I feel I have a solid ground work and skillset to be built upon and such an opportunity would allow me to grow as a filmmaker and transition into the next part of my career. I am eager to learn and expand my knowledge and skillset and I believe being given the chance to work on a full production from beginning to end would truly benefit me and be the opportunity I have been pushing for nearly two years now. My ambitions are to become a Director and then produce and create my own films. I am currently directing music videos and short films on the side of PA work which I am learning from and enjoying.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: My passions are to direct and create my own movies and grow as a filmmaker. I recently finished some work on The Voyage of Doctor Doolittle which I loved and will start on another feature next month. I am in the edit for a short film I directed at the end of last year and will be directing a variety of music videos throughout the summer. I’m also in the early stages of my next short film! I’d like to give a final shoutout to XTRA. art. They have helped give me the platform to show my work and feel confident as a creator. Throughout school, I felt I had to stick to an academic path, and Yinan and the team definitely helped me grow as a creative mind by assisting me in the showcasing of my work as well as teaching me there are more pathways to a successful career than university!