I belong to a family of doctors and engineers, but I was always inclined towards the creative fields. It is my love for visual arts that I decided to pursue a filmmaking course in Los Angeles, the home to Hollywood. Hello, I am Abhilasha Kumar and this is my story.
I was born in Mumbai, started my school in Goa, and later moved to Surat. I completed my graduation and post graduation from Vadodara, and then went to study direction and filmmaking at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) in Los Angeles.
Since my family was full of scholars, I decided to pursue graduation in clinical psychology and even though I liked it, it didn’t quite feel right. I then completed my post graduation in mass communication but even then I didn’t love what I was doing. However, the one subject that I loved studying was visual communication and that was when I realised this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I finally found my calling.
How I built my portfolio
My course began in February 2020. Although it was a one-year course, it got extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, I am under the internship programme of the college, where I get to work with production houses.
As I child I never thought I would be studying filmmaking and that too in the US. During my visual communication classes when I realised that this is what I wanted to do, I attended multiple events to understand the dynamics of this profession. I would shoot all day and edit and just be with my camera. I covered the Vadodara marathon, the kite festival and went to everything that was happening in town. This is how I built my portfolio.
Towards the end of my course, I began contemplating how I will achieve what I want. I spoke to my seniors, mentors and people who were studying abroad. I did my research, and once I got clarity, I appeared for IELTS. I graduated from MSU, Baroda in May 2019 and started preparing for college admission in September.
Before applying to NYFA, I weighed my options, courses in other countries and then decided to study here. I mailed the college administrative department for admission-related queries and they were quick to respond. I then submitted my application. I had to submit my portfolio, a letter of purpose, and had to appear for an interview after I got shortlisted. I got a scholarship that helped me pay my tuition fees.
My parents have been my pillar of strength. My cost of living was earlier borne by my parents, but ever since I have started my internship, I am managing my expenses.
Diversity in the classroom
I was a bit overwhelmed before joining college. While I was a novice, my classmates already had a few years of work experience. Although there were many Indians at the college and in our batch, I felt intimidated initially since I was the only female student in my class.
There is a lot of diversity in NYFA. A large number of Asian students are studying here. I have met so many people from different countries. There is so much to learn from them. I love the bustling culture of Los Angeles.
Before getting into NYFA, I had never travelled alone and never been away from my parents. Although I have lived in many places in India, I was apprehensive about the future before moving to the US. Thankfully, the first place I relocated to had Indians living there and so I didn’t get a cultural shock.
Living by myself
I got to savour home cooked food the day I arrived here. Ours was the ‘party house’ since the people living with me had been staying for some time and, therefore, always had friends over. It was easy for me in the beginning as I did not have to set up the house or go grocery shopping alone but when I moved out, I had to learn from scratch.
Pandemic struck as soon as classes began, and I was clueless about what to do. As everything moved online, we started working with webcams, making films online using limited resources we had. As a filmmaker, groundwork is a must and I felt a little disappointed but with this internship programme, I am learning whatever I could not learn earlier — from technicality and creativity to experience at a movie set.
How I keep myself busy
I don’t intend to stay in Los Angeles for the rest of my life, I wish to come back to India after having learned a substantial amount. Till then, I am happy where I am. It does get lonely at times, so I paint and dance.
For students, I want to say that do not give up on your dreams, follow your heart, and you will find your path. Plan to study abroad once you’re sure of what you want to do. Being a filmmaker, you have to constantly be on your toes. Learn everything you can.
Courtesy : The Indian Express