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From Rhythm & Hues to Dancing Atoms: Saraswathi “Vani” Balgam
Episode 1014th December 2023 • Creative Innovators with Gigi Johnson • Maremel Institute
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We have the pleasure of sharing the adventures of Saraswathi “Vani” Balgam -- from pioneering visual effects in India to founding her studio, Dancing Atoms, and mentoring future talents. 

From her early beginnings in the visual effects industry in India, Vani's drive and curiosity propelled her into careers at Rhythm & Hues and DreamWorks. Vani founded Dancing Atoms, a boutique studio that focuses on representing India and Southeast Asia, with a vision for bringing culturally unique content to a global audience.

Join us as she shares her adventures in trust and transitions from visual effects to documentary filmmaking and children’s programming -- and building women’s creative leadership opportunities like the Woman Creators Program in collaboration with Epic Games. 

Guest: Saraswathi “Vani” Balgam, CEO/Creative Director, Dancing Atoms; Creative producer, Creator and Consultant; Head of the Women in Animation (WIA) India Collective, President of ASIFA India and founder of Epic’s Women Creators Program

Guest: Saraswathi “Vani” Balgam, CEO/Creative Director, Dancing Atoms; Creative producer, Creator, and Consultant; Head of the Women in Animation (WIA) India Collective, President Emeritus of ASIFA India, and founder of Epic’s Women Creators Program

Saraswathi ‘Vani’ Balgam is an Indian-born writer, director, self-taught photographer, and filmmaker. Her Indian and Southeast Asian cultural heritage and her experiences and memories from being an avid global traveler help her portray common humanity and unique journeys within her characters and stories. Her exposure to the film industry started at a young age when her father started a 2D animation studio within their family home, intending to create films that involved rich Indian culture and heritage for a global audience. This foundation of creativity is from her father, as well as her mother who is also vividly creative. While Vani started her career as a business development executive for CMM Studios Limited in Mumbai, India, she slowly rose through the ranks within the Southeast Asian film scene and was appointed as Executive Director and Founder of the Rhythm and Hues Asian Studios. While executive director, she managed employees across four studios in Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Taiwan which produced VFX for many major Hollywood films, such as ‘Life of Pi’, and ‘The Golden Compass’, which each won Rhythm and Hues Studios the Academy Awards for Best VFX in 2013 and 2008 respectively. Vani also served as the Head of Creative Management and Training for Dreamworks Studios in Shanghai, China. Vani founded Dancing Atoms Studio in 2015 to create amazing stories with unforgettable and different characters. She actively encourages community development all around the world. 


She is currently the president of Women in Animation - India Collective. She was also the president of Asifa India, a non-profit organization that has been dedicated to the art of animation for over two decades. Vani has been a mentor for several Epic Games Unreal Engine Fellowships programs and has produced over 120+ short films. Vani coined the Unreal Epic Games Women Creators Program for India & SE Asia intending to inspire and train women creators and form a community of creators. She was also the Creative Program Director of the UEFN Women Creators Program.


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Transcripts

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Bonnie, you so inspired me at

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SIGGRAPH that you had a room

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transfixed with your life experience, with great

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graphics for it, but also such imaginative

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risk-taking to build new things from scratch

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around the world. It was totally fascinating. So I'm extremely excited about having you

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on the show. Thank you. Thank you so much. Gigi, this.

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This is all my pleasure. Excellent.

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So can you start us off and explain

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what you're doing now? And is it all

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in dancing Adams? Is it beyond dancing Adams now,

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what are your adventures right now? So I

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am running a boutique studio in Los Angeles,

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and I'm focusing on telling stories, of

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course, mostly from India and Southeast

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Asia, to bring them to the rest of the world.

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So that's really my focus, is how do I

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transcend people? How do I transcend

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experiences that I have had or I know people have had

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in these parts of the world and bring animation

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content, preschool shows, feature films,

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games, but with a very strong voice,

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which is mine. From India. And so

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you are living a multinational life. So even though you have your studios

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here in LA, we're catching you right now in India.

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Where else is the footprint of your life right now?

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Oh, my God. I would say Los Angeles and India are the two big

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footprints right now. But if I could put another one, that would be

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up in the Himalayas. Oh, wow. Okay,

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can you start us backwards? Let's track backwards

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in life. And can you tell us about

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Vannie when she was about 16? Was she a

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creator? Was she a

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filmmaker? Was she a storyteller? Was

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she patient? Was she adventurous? What was Vani

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at 16? I think she was

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fearless. I think she was

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untamed and fearless. I look back and say, oh, my

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God, I was so gutsy. I had no concept

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of fear. I was

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not scared of anything, and I

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did exactly what I wanted to do. And

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I didn't think too much about the consequences

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of right and wrong, whether it's the right decision or the wrong

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decision. But I think I was also, at the same time,

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very spiritually grounded.

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So I feel like I felt free. I

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felt very free.

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So what did the 16 Year old you think you

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wanted to do when you grew up?

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Oh, wow. I think the 16 year old wanted

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to. I think I

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just had very simple dreams, to be very honest.

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I just wanted to be independent. I wanted to be

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financially very strong. I never wanted to

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be dependent financially on

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anybody, and I was willing to do whatever it

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takes. And I

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didn't think a job was a good job or a bad job or a small

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job. I just knew that I had to do what

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was there to get moving.

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And my dreams were also very simple. They weren't as

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big as they are today.

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They were very simple. I think I wanted a very simple life. I

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wanted to be happy. I wanted to be with my friends

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and just be financially independent. I think I would joke with my

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friends of, when I grow up, I want to wear shorts,

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and I want to have my own apartment, and I just want to listen to

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music all day. Wow.

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You know, being in India or growing up in India, wearing

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shorts was, like, a big deal. That meant,

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like, you have

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was. That was a massive, big thing for me.

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Were your parents creative? Did they live creative lives,

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or are you stepping into their footsteps? Okay.

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My father, I think from the

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last memory or the first memory that I had of him

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was that he was a man with colors. He would always

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have sketch pens, and he would just use

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sketch pens to continue drawing very

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intricate little patterns that were Indian patterns. And then he would create

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these forms and images around

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it. And there was always paint in

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the house. There's always colors in the house. And whether we were

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painting walls, just even these white walls,

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he would just simply continue to paint them with different colors.

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My mother loved. She still

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does a lot of paintings, like flowers and patterns

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and stitching. And so it was filled with Arts and hobies

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all the time. So what did they expect

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you to do? I

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think, like every other parent in

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India, I think they wanted it. My mother, I would

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say, wanted me to live a very stable life. Like, she would be.

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Like, she would have very minimal expectations, like,

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get your education, get married, and you can

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be a schoolteacher and teach your kids when they come back

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home. So she had very,

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okay, this is going to be a trajectory in life. And

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my father was the wild card. He

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dreamt for us about winning Oscars. He

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dreamt about us driving in multiple

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cars, and he dreamt about

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the unachievable. And my mother

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was always grounded, so I don't know where

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we ended up. But they wanted cars.

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Piece. Why multiple cars? I don't know. I think

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he was just always fascinated. He had traveled around the world,

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and he would always be like, I can totally see you in that car

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and that car and that car. And I, till date, don't

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understand that fixation with cars, because I'm not a car

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person.

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But for him, I think the car basically

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meant independence and freedom,

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probably a little bit of luxury, but I thought it meant more

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freedom more than anything else. For me, it

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resonates because there's this great exercise. What would it

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be for you to feel wealthy and successful? And I grew up in a

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relatively poor family, and so the idea of having

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a second car was an indication of freedom and

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wealth. And so when I suddenly did that exercise,

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we ended up just realizing, I just need a junker in the front that

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I don't drive to feel wealthy as I was second car. And we actually did

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that. So having multiple cars, totally. I grok

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that entire sentiment, but from my life.

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So when it came time, as school

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teacher, Oscar, college life,

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what were your first set of choices that you took to leave the household?

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As much as my father was a big dreamer and wanted to

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do a lot of great big things,

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we were financially very, very strained.

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He didn't have enough money to send me and my

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brother to school. We couldn't afford

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college. So I

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think we

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came to understand life and at a very, very young

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age, probably too early, maybe for our

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own good. But the one thing that I saw was

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that my parents were borrowing money

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to make things meet, to make

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ends meet. And that's something that I never wanted.

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I said, this is a big no.

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I don't have to achieve really big things in life. I don't have to have

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multiple cars, multiple houses, win

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Oscars, but I definitely do not want

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to be dependent or

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borrowing. And that was very strongly

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instilled by my mother because she

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came from, I think both of them came from very

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minimal backgrounds.

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So I felt more the desire to say,

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whatever I do, I want to be standing on my

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2ft, however small that is.

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So what were your first steps out of the family

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home? I got a

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job, probably like at 17 or

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something, to leave. We were

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in a city called Madras, which is currently called

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Chennai, and I left home.

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I was 17, probably getting close to

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18 or even less. And I moved to Mumbai,

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which is Bombay. And I started working

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in the visual effects and animation industry as a coordinator.

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So I used to go to the set,

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the film set, and then pick up data for visual

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effects, for green screen, or to do some

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effects or very simple work.

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How did that walk in your door? How did you step into

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that space? I have no idea,

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actually. I think it was

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just more that I've always wanted to be a filmmaker, and I was never

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given the opportunity to be in the direction team

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because there were actually no

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woman in that space in India at that time.

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And it was such a scarcity that

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they were very scared to take any female

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chances. Like, they were worried more about the risk of having a

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woman on a movie set. And so

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the visual effects was the closest that I could have been

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in touch with live action filmmaking. And so

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I taught myself a couple of things thanks to my brother,

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who was a wizard, picking up things and putting things

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together. And he'd be like, this is how it's done, and this is what is

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happening. And I'd be like, okay, great. Then

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I can be good at collecting data. I'm not a strong

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technical person, but I'm creative, so I'm going to jump into that

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bandwagon. And I said, I will do this, this, and

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this. And they were like, okay, great. Nobody has said they want to do that,

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so come on board. So it literally happened like

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that. So how did the next parts of your

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journey go? I mean, you ended up at rhythm and

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Hughes and helping them build a lot. What was the journey from

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that starting point to that bigger

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experience? I would say,

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know all these experiences that happened

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kind of put

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actually, I really don't understand how any of this happened.

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But I was in the studio in Mumbai, Bombay,

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and there was an email that came from Ruthman, you saying that they wanted

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to come and visit and send some work to India. And I

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was, you know, and it was a dial up

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connection. I couldn't see anything back then. Like,

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all the little photographs were coming up, and they were taking 3 hours to pop

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up on the computer. And finally, when they came,

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I couldn't fathom that these were the studio that I had made

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and a movie called Babe, where they had won the

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Academy Award. And I was like, wait, what is all of this?

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And who are these people? And why do they want to come to India?

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And why do they want to work here with Indians that are not

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trained or talented to provide those very high end services?

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So I basically spoke the truth and asked them those questions.

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And that's basically how rhythm and Hughes started. A

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year later, I think when they finally

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came and said, well, we want you to run rhythm and Hughes. And I was

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like, are you kidding? Like, I'm not the right person?

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And they were like, no, come on, and set up the

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company. So why did you think that

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you weren't the right person, and why did they think you were the

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right person. That you need to ask them? But

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I'll tell you, I had all the reasons why I was not the right

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person. I

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hadn't graduated from school. I was not an MBA. I

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had no idea what a business is. I had

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never run a studio in my entire life. I was always working

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for somebody else.

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I never set up anything on my own before.

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I don't think anybody reported to me in that

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particular way that now I, and I never set up an entity

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legally before in my life. There were so many things that

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I had not done before. Um,

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so I don't know.

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I think, I think it just happened where

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they said they basically, John

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Hughes and Richard Castaldo from

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Rhythm & Hues back then, they

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had an interview with me and asked me a bunch of questions, and they were

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like, what would you do? How would you do this? How would you

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run a company? And I was so

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cocky.

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I was so full of myself. I'd run it from my apartment and they'd

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be like, are you sure you'll run it from your apartment? And why would you

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do that? I'm like, I want to save the costs. I'm like,

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really? Did I really think these things through

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before answering those questions? I have no idea.

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But the very young person

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in me had seen a lot that my father had

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done. And I think all the education

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of the choices that I made,

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I think were subconsciously coming because of

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what my parents had gone through or what my father had gone through in

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setting up businesses in India.

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So this was about 2000. 2001,

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right. So that was an era that

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was just after Napster, that there was

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disruption happening in various industries, but still the

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early stages. And then you spent more than a decade then with

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rhythm and Hughes. What did you bring to

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that adventure? How much did it change you?

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And what was the whole, I mean, that in itself could be an hour

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long conversation. But what's kind of the nexus of

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that experience for you? I think

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it, on the,

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on the human front, I think I understood what trust

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is

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and what trust can do.

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So when John kind of hired me over

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a phone call, and I had never been to the US before,

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and here was an Academy Award winning

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studio, and he said,

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you're going to legally set up a rhythm in Hughes in India?

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I didn't understand that. But

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when I understood it, I think it absolutely

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changed me, because

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trusting somebody that you don't know, trusting somebody that you've never

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met, trusting somebody

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is no joke.

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And then believing that they will deliver

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is another. I mean, like, how, how do you, how

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do you do all of these things in a

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world where it tells you not to trust, where it tells

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you not to believe? And

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culturally, we were so different. I

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grew up my entire life in India, never traveled outside of

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IndIA, and John never came to

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India. So he never met any. Never. He never

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came to India before. So I

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think the biggest takeaway was,

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how do you reciprocate to someone who trusts you,

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and then how do you expand that trust to everything else that

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you build?

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How do I put it? Like, when the seed,

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when the foundation is trust, then

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everything has to start with that and end with that.

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Every day had to start with that and end with that. So every person that

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I recruited after that, every person

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that we welcomed into the studio,

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every transaction that we made, was purely

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coming from that, that I trust you, that you will do this.

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And so that was the biggest.

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Yeah, I think that was the biggest takeaway and continues to be the biggest takeaway

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in my transactions as I move forward is I have to trust you

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to do what I need to do in my life. And

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that's the best that I can do, is trust you.

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And that's the beauty of it. The magic that happened after

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that was unbelievable because

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we started trusting our next set of people and then the next set of people,

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and then everybody started trusting each other. And the energy

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that we shared at rhythm and Hughes India was just brilliant.

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Was just so beautiful that there

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was never any kind of politics, there was never any kind of

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backstabbing. There was no room for that.

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So we just loved doing our work, and

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we continue to do the best quality of work. And

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we partnered with our studios in the

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US. We worked so hard, and

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we ended up winning a couple of Oscars again.

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So for people who don't know animation or why in the world

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animation would be working in India, can you talk about sort

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of the relationship and work patterns

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that were of that era?

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I think visual effects was very nascent, or it

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was very upcoming in India. Back then, like, we're talking

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2000 something, very early 2000,

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there was a lot of passion. There was a lot of

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art. There was understanding, but there was no technology. And

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then if the technology was there, the technical expertise

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wasn't there because we hadn't delivered that many films.

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So to start something from scratch

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and to build everything from scratch was very

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hard to educate people, to

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appreciate people, to value people. Those were the

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things that did not exist back then.

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People were so threatened if

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one person left the studio and went to the other studio because

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there was a lot of insecurity, and we took that out of our system. We

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said, it's okay. You should be here only if you're happy. If you're

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not happy, then you have the complete right to move

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outside and do whatever you like. And so those kind of

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conversations kind of built something

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very beautiful in India, I would say.

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There was also, though, a benefit of being halfway around the

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clock as well for fast turnaround projects. So it wasn't

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that you guys worked by yourselves, but you were

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intertwined with fast moving projects that were based in the United

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States. Right. It was literally, I think we were

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the first studio in the entire world that

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did what we did, that it was not an outsourcing model.

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It was the same studio. We were one

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studio. We were just, like, in two different places. And then we became

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three, and then we became four. We became five eventually. So

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from India, we went to Malaysia. We started another studio in Malaysia, another

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studio in Taiwan, but we tried and maintained that

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same thread. It was like

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a pearl necklace, but all the pearls were strung to that

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invisible string. So we basically worked as

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one studio. And it was beautiful. Like the supervisors

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that were there in LA, how much they invested their

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time and energy and trust in the artists in India, and the same

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way, vice versa, that the artists in India, Malaysia, and

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Taiwan invested their time and energy in partnering.

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And it was a true partnership in so many beautiful ways.

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So how did you transition from that

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experience to your next adventure?

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Was. I mean, so how did that

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close and how did the next open, and how did that change for

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you? I think

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I've spent about 13 some years at rhythm and

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Hughes, and it was time for

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the next big step to happen.

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And so when DreamWorks had reached

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out many times to come and join them and to lead their

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studio in Bangalore, I was always like,

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no, I'm doing what I'm doing here. I don't think I should dilute my

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energy and jump places. I was very adamant about

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moving, but then they finally offered a position

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that I absolutely loved, which was to come and be a part

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of the leadership team in the visual development and

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storytelling. And I was like, oh, my God, that's exactly

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what drives me. That motivates me. And

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they were very amazing. They were like, come to

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Glendale, come work out of here, go to Shanghai, work

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with the OW team, Oriental DreamWorks team, and then keep coming

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back to the DreamWorks office in LA. So I was hired to

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be in LA, and then eventually they said, go to

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Shanghai and help champion the Chinese talent

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there. And that was such a brilliant experience

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that I had because I'd already

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traveled to Malaysia and worked there for about five or six years.

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I'd been in Taiwan for about three to four years. But

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China is a completely different.

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It was completely different because,

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so I would say they're so

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proud of what they do. And I never felt that with other

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countries as much as I felt that with China.

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And the language was also another very big thing because they were

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very shy and they wouldn't speak in English. We

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always had a translator, so that was a challenge. But it was also amazing

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that they stuck to their roots. They really

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felt like they could communicate and they could get others

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to listen to what they had to communicate at their terms. And I was

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like, there was such a big learning experience to say,

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you respect who you are culturally.

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You don't have to change, you just be who you are.

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And I love that. I love that about a lot of the

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things that I learned from there. The one thing I do have

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to say is having worked with over

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2000 OD people in the visual effects, some of the top people in

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the visual effects and animation industry in the world,

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and traveled all these places, I believe that talent is

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universal.

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It just takes a little bit of love, it just takes a little bit of

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trust and the magic happens.

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And that is the learning that I have taken and I continue to take every

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time I speak to someone because I see the potential.

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I see the potential and I'm amazed, like,

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oh, my God, how did this happen in five weeks? How did this

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happen in such a short time? So I'm always,

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so this was a. Step into Vani as storyteller

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and story curator. How did that then

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work its way into now? Vani as

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independent voice studio

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creator, how did that journey continue?

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My time at DreamWorks was amazing because I was so close to

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storyboard artists. And every day I was

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writing, every day I was in this creative

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space and it wouldn't stop. We were

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constantly generating ideas to pitch, to

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present, to listen. And my

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role as the person that was in charge of all these

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departments, I just couldn't stop thinking and writing.

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And my father had passed away and I

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remember I was sharing my dad's experience with somebody

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at remarks, and they said, oh, my God, you got to tell that story.

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That's the story I want to see on screen. And I was like, you're choking,

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right? And they're like, no. And these were very senior

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people at DreamWorks. And they're like, unless you don't write it,

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unless you don't put it out there, how is anything going to happen?

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And that was the,

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I think somewhere that

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spark kind of took space.

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I just don't know when it happened, but I knew

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I had to do something. I knew I had to

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tell stories that had that original

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voice and I didn't know how to do

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it on my own. 2ft I have always worked for very big

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studios, Academy Award winning studios, but

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to say, I'm going to try this. And so

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dancing Atoms happened. So what

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was the first part of that journey? What was your first creative

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steps?

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I think the biggest risk that I took

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was that I started writing for animation and I realized

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that it was impossible make something in animation on

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your own because it requires a lot of people. It

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requires a huge amount of talent

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to create anything of decent quality back

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then. And so I put that aside for a

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while and I said, okay, what else can I do on my 2Ft? And

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I've always been a travel

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photographer. I've trekked the Himalayas and I've always take

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my camera with me. So I said, what can I do with my camera? What

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can I do? With the bare minimum,

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I did save up some money and one of the options was go to film

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school and do film school and start from there.

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Or the other idea was, would you spend $200,000 going

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to film school, or would you just pick up

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your camera and go do whatever you want to do and learn

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that way? So I said, okay, I'm going to teach myself filmmaking. I'm going to

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teach myself to be everything that I've always

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wanted to be, to direct, to be a cameraman,

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to edit, to do everything right. And

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so I literally picked up by Nikon

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D 80 or D 90, whatever that

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was back then, and talked to a bunch of my friends

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and they were like, what are you planning on doing? I'm like, oh, I want

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to go do this film. They're like, oh, great, just get a bunch of good

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lenses. And then I went and picked up a

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few great lenses and started filming up

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in the mountains. And I did my first documentary

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and it was unscripted. I just went and

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filmed whatever I felt like

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that spiritually called me, I would

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say. And so I started gathering all the material

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and did my first feature documentary.

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So you have, from that start, moved

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through a fair number of spaces and creative

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ventures. What have been the most pivotal

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turns and what has blossomed the most of

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the seeds you've planted on this so far?

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If you talk to any filmmaker who's independent, they'll tell you

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the journey is really long.

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What I have done on my way as an independent

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filmmaker is I think

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I've given myself the permission to play

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more than anything else,

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because it's a process. It's not like

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you're going to get it right the first time. You keep playing with

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it, you keep experimenting, you fail, and then you

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cry a little bit and you wake up again. You get at it, and

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that's basically been the most amazing part of my

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journey and then finding the few key people that trust

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me on my way again.

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Because anything that you do in life, I

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think you are kind of

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relating to the other. And that's a very important

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fact that I use in my life, is who are the

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people that you can support on their

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journey and who are the people that can support you on your journey,

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including the people that are the naysayers. Because the

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naysayers are equally important

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because they kind of are like the boosters that

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are pushing you faster to get there because they are saying,

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no, you don't deserve this, or, no, you can do this.

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You can be very negative about them and say, oh, those

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guys. And you can get angry

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and upset, but they're also equally important.

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There's a certain kind of a resistance that forms

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in pushing you.

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You need that booster. Think of it like a rocket, right? To

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launch that rocket out into this space, you need that

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pressure that kind of pushes you up. And I feel

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both the good and the bad are absolutely required

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to be on that journey.

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That's something that in the programs we do, definitely shows up. We

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call it the bounce effect, that otherwise

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you would probably not change and improve. You just skim through the wall, and

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instead you bounce off the wall and you build either a

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different sense of direction with more speed or you have to learn how to

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push through the wall. And either one makes you a better

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creative than if you just cruise through.

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But a lot of the time to reframe it, which you reframe. Lovely with that,

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right? Which, it's not the curse you for standing in my way,

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but you've derived energy from that interaction or that situation,

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which is great. I mean, it wasn't like I

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believed in that in the beginning, but as I kept seeing the

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pattern of my own mind, I was

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like, why am I getting so

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unhappy about this? And

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I remember being a wonderful, wonderful lady. I

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forget her name, but she was at an art show,

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and she said, you should put up your art here. And I was like, no,

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I don't think people like my art. And then she was like,

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well, there'll be 19 people that will not like your

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art, but there might be one person out of those 20

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that like your art, and that's the chance you have to take.

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And so I was very scared. I was very vulnerable. I was very

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intimidated by naysayers.

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But I think having that one tiny conversation with a complete

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stranger in Culver City absolutely

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changed the way that I looked

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at naysayers anymore. Because I now count

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the number of people that are saying no to me, because I'm like, oh, yeah,

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I'm going to get that one person to say yes to me. And I

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think that's the beauty.

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You just walk your path and just have fun,

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and it'll happen. So in your more

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recent adventures that you have stepped

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into Unreal and epic and

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programs to help boost other storytellers,

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can you talk about this journey into the virtual

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spaces and how that's let you be then a

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bigger solo creator? So

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I would say that since

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2003, maybe almost 20 some

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years, I've been doing a lot of pro bono,

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nonprofit stuff in the visual effects and animation community,

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through CFI India, through women in animation,

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Sigraph Asia,

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FMX, which is in

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know Sony Talent League. There's just a lot of amazing

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things that people are doing to build

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communities, to bring people together, to share and network

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and create. So in that process,

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I've learned from a very, very young age that you

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alone cannot be the one person.

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The more you share, the more you give, the

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bigger you become, the bigger everybody

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becomes. And that's something that

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I've been very

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thankful for people to reach out to me and say, can you

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do this? Can you build this? It was not just building

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rhythm and Hughes, but it was also building all these little things around

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rhythm and Hughes, creating opportunities for myself

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and people around me. So I

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realized that while I was struggling, being in Los Angeles,

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pitching my animated feature films, my preschool shows,

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I just realized it just takes a lot of time for people to trust

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you. Whether you can deliver these projects, whether you are the

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right person, you're a debutant director,

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will you deliver this project? And they take

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their time to make those decisions, because it's business at

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the end of the day, as much as it is fashion, it's art,

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it's technology, it's also entertainment. And entertainment

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is about business. So while I was doing all of

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that, the conversations kind of started

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to say, why aren't there more

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women speaking up in Southeast

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Asia? Why are they not visible? Because

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I know 30, 40, 50 of them.

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And so that kind of questioning with the

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right people, I would say, kind of led me

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to coining this program with Epic Games

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called the Woman Creators Program.

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I had gone through the Epigames

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Fellowship thanks to a wonderful friend

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that I met 18 years ago.

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She was like, hey, I want you to join this Epigames Fellowship. And I

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was like, okay, I am not the right person. Again, I'm

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not a visual effects artist. You should find somebody to do this program. And she

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was like, no, you have to do it. You're a director, you're a

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filmmaker. We absolutely want you to take this program.

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And so after a lot of

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insistence, I was like, okay, I'll do this.

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And it was a game changer. To use real time

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technology to visualize an idea

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in five weeks

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absolutely changed my mind.

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It was like, what did I do?

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Of course, I put in about 14 to 16 hours

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during the five a program to deliver,

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but it was doable.

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The unattainable was attainable. Like,

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you needed a big studio even to do the basic previsualization. You

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need so many artists to get there. But with the real time

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game technology, it was like, oh, my God,

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this is so cool. This is so amazing. And so that

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experience. After completing my music video that I directed

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using the Epic Games real time

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engine, I started writing

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the Woman Creators program and really

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asked for that to become

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possible. And I would say it took about ten

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months for that program to get

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greenlit. And then we did that. And

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it was a game changer, because I could see that happen to the

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other creators that we had handpicked, that were all

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women, and we were like, they were loving it.

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They went through the same journey that I went through, which was doubt and

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impostor syndrome, and not sure if they can deliver,

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not sure if they can do it. But with the right amount of nurturing

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and mentoring, they all created brilliant

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projects. So what are

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you most excited about right now?

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I'm most excited about two of my projects that just got

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selected. One project has been picked up by

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a Canadian studio, which is a preschool

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show. I'm just hoping it finds home

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its legacy. It's something that my father and mother had

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written many, many years ago, almost 30

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some years ago. And for me to see

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that happen, because I've rewritten it with a

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new set of eyes and ears for younger audiences all

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around the world. It's about family,

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it's about dance. It's about bringing everybody together. So

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I'm really excited about that show

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with my new Canadian partners. And

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then there's another feature film, which is animated,

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which got selected into the co production market in

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India, which is a big deal.

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It's about friendship. I just

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can't reveal a lot of the details about what the project is about,

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but I'm super excited that I'm looking for

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partners on that.

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And I have a short film, which is an animated short

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film, which has also

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gotten a lot of interest in Los Angeles.

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I've got a couple of really amazing, talented people that have come

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on board that have been part of the Academy Awards,

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who've won the Academy Awards and stuff. So

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I'm really excited to partner with them and push

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that short film forward as well. Some more

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directing, more directing, fabulous stuff. So

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we could talk probably on any of these projects for an hour or more.

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You've got such a rich experience base, but we're near the end of our

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episode. Thank you. What have we not talked about

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that you would love to make sure we talk about before we wrap

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up?

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Um, I think

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look to your right, look to your left. You know, look

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all around and trust people around you.

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Give people opportunities.

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Because whatever my journey is, is going to be my

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journey. But along with me are many others who are also on their

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journey. So I would always say,

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build that tribe, build that community, because it means a lot

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when you have to do big projects. You really need

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that team, you really need those inspiring,

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talented people. I do.

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So I always feel like

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just create more opportunities for different

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people all around the world.

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So who would you like to reach out to you? And

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how would you like them to reach out?

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With a magic wand. Who would you like to reach out to you right

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now? I think people can go to my website, which

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is

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www.dancingatoms.com.

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They could also drop me an email. I'm on

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LinkedIn. You can connect with me on LinkedIn

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and say, hey, I heard this and this is what I'd like to do, or

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whatever that they want to say and reach out. But I'm basically really

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looking at producers to come on board to get my projects

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to the next level. Absolutely. We'll put all your

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contact information in the show notes. Thank you.

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We'll try to keep your adventures updated there as well because you've got so much

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going on. Vani, thank you so much for joining. Really,

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really appreciate. Thank you so much for making

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this happen. It means a lot to me. It does.

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Thank you.