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‘Always keep your creative streak alive, think differently and out-of-the-box’

An alumnus of Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park, Vevek Paul, founder of The Great Indian Film Festival talks about his journey as a director



He joined Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park in Class III and went on to become the sports captain. This is where his love for volleyball began and continues. His father thought that besides making scholars, Apeejay always created students with practical and street-smart qualities!

In a candid interview, Vevek Paul says that the most satisfying part of his work involves working with student filmmakers.

Tell us about your school days. Some memories from those days.

I passed out in 1996 from Apeejay School, Panchsheel Park. I remember my school days very fondly coming from Gyan Bharti School. I joined Apeejay in Class III and can easily say the years I spent the best days of my life there.

I was the sports captain of my school. The love I developed for volleyball is still carrying on. I play even today whenever I get a chance! Some fond memories from the school include participating in NCC, being a part of the band, and also going on a lot of picnics and school trips. The friendships that were made during school are the most lasting ones. I am in touch with some of my classmates and they are in fact, close friends of mine.

How and why did you set up The Great Indian Film Festival (TGIFF)?

I started making short films as I love the concept of telling a story in a limited time which can convey a large message. My short films got selected for various festivals across the world and as a filmmaker, I love the process of getting recognition and validation for my work.

It was this idea that prompted me to start a film festival of my own where I could give a chance to various filmmakers from around the world to showcase their films and documentaries to a larger audience. Today, TGIFF has completed three years and in these three years, we have showcased more than 200 films at three international venues.

What was the aim behind Cinemaddicts9?

To make my short films I started the production house Cinemaddicts9. The concept behind the production house was to create some path-breaking content. My production house produces two very popular shows for National Geographic, Science of stupid and animals gone wild with Jaaved Jaffrey.

What are the challenges that directors face today given that people are watching all kinds of genres?

Director is one person who is vision is translated into a film or a documentary. Only he knows what the final product is, and how it is going to look like at the end. The biggest challenge that the directors feel today is to stay relevant and still be different because of the overflow of content in the markets. As the process of filmmaking has become easier and very accessible to everyone this challenge has only grown.

What are the roadblocks that come while trying to convert ideas and stories into reality?

The idea of creating any content is that it should reach its desired audience. There can be challenges at many levels -from production, and budgets to getting talents, and then finding the right broadcaster, the road to seeing your content on the screen is challenging. That is also one of the reasons for starting TGIFF, we do understand the challenge of a short filmmaker getting a chance to see his film on a big screen, and with our festival we try and bridge that gap.

You have worked with student filmmakers. Importance of introducing them to the creative world at a young age?

Yes, there is a vertical of TGIFF known as rising stars where we give student filmmakers a chance to showcase their films on a big screen. This is one of the most satisfying parts of my work I would say. Students have a candid and unbiased view of the world because there are fewer commercial angles attached to this content. The outcome is very honest.

It’s heartening to see how easily and effectively students can make films today because of the latest phones and gadgets available to them which allows them to present their view of the world.

What are some of your upcoming projects?

In my production house, we do extensive documentary filmmaking besides the two regular shows that I do with them. We are currently shooting six documentaries in the extreme parts of India under the banner of extreme engineering. It’s a challenging production with some extreme climate conditions but that’s what document filmmaking is all about! Plus, our next edition of the great Indian festival will be held in the United Arab Emirates in March 2023.

What advice would you like to give to young Apeejayites who want to enter the world of entertainment?

My father always had the opinion that besides making scholars, Apeejay always created students with practical and street-smart qualities! Believe me, it’s these qualities that work maximum when students go out of school after completing their studies in the professional world.

My advice to my fellow Apeejayites is: Whatever work you are in, always keep your creative streak alive, think differently and out-of-the-box in whatever profession you choose. There is no one formula to success and believe me, there is not one road that leads to success. There are many leading to the same or different success points.

You won Asia’s Most Creative Entrepreneur last year. What does the award symbolise for you?

I run a financial services company as I complete my studies as an MBA finance student. Also, I am a producer for films and documentaries and the founder of film festivals. The award that was given to me was for being a creative person in the field that I have chosen to work in. It does mean a lot when any kind of validation is given for your work.

Apeejay creates students with practical and street-smart qualities! It’s these qualities that work maximum in the professional world

Vevek Paul, founder of The Great Indian Film Festival

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.

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