Diary of an actress #26: From India to LA - Interview with motion picture editor, Archana Shinde

Candy Washington: How did you get your start in the film industry?
Archana Shinde: When I finished with my engineering school, I had no clue what I wanted to do in life. But my dad really wanted me to finish post-graduation. So I did Masters in Engineering. Then I started working for an Indian Computer Software company and started developing embedded software programs for audio and video processing. I always loved photography. But I had no idea how one could make a living out of it. At least I didn't have that resources or even any model. So I stuck to my job in Delhi, India. A year later, my sister Anjali Patil came to Delhi to finish her Masters in Theater at National School of Drama (NSD), the most prestigious theater school in India. I started visiting her at NSD on the weekends. That was really inspiring, just being in the legendary campus of NSD, seeing all the posters of all the maestros in Indian Theater from the old productions of NSD and watching Anjali and her classmates work day and night on a new production. I was inspired to tap into my potential of doing something different than an ordinary life of a young woman in India.

CW:  How was the transition from India to LA?
AS: Even though the theater inspired me to pursue a career in creative arts, I was more passionate about moving images. I decided to be a filmmaker. I had a choice to go to Mumbai and start working in films. But I had no formal training of filmmaking. Everyone has a different opinion about formal training and film schools. I wanted to explore what film schools have to offer. So I enrolled in Directing for Films And TV program at UCLA. I quit my job in July 2009 and in September, I flew to LA. I didn't know anyone in the city. But I met some really nice and kind people in first few days. They made the whole 'coming-from-a-small-city-in-India-to-LA' transition much smoother. They are still the closest friends I have in LA.

CW: What's the biggest challenge you've faced and how have you overcome it?

AS: The biggest challenge for me was to uncover what I really wanted to do in life. I struggled with that question for longer than 3 years. After a lot of soul-searching, the answer came to me, 'I should be a filmmaker'. At that time, it seemed impossible for me to leave my career in computers and start over again. But my family was enormously supportive. Once they were okay with my decision, I knew I could only go forward with it.

CW: I loved the promo for Green Bangles. Can you tell us more about the film?
AS: In late 2010-2011, I wrote, directed and edited a short film, "Green Bangles". I produced it with my sister, Anjali Patil. She is the lead actress in it. Honestly, it was just an exercise for me in the process of learning how to direct and edit. Everyone in my directing class loved it. Our course instructor, producer and director Richard Friedman made a special mention of it. Then I thought of sending it to Film Festivals. Uma DaCunha, editor of Film India Worldwide and casting director in India asked me to send her a copy of the film. She loved it and recommended it to Women In Film and TV India chapter. Women In Film and Television (WIFT) India chapter chose the short film to represent India in WIFT International Showcase 2012. The film was screened in 44 cities in 15 different countries. The short film was also screened in several film festivals in the US.

CW: What draws you to editing and what is your process?

AS: When I was a kid, I loved to make collage. I remember I used to spend days collecting pictures, alphabets, articles specific to a topic. But all that work would be worth the trouble once I would sit down to stick everything together and create something meaningful. I think my fascination of searching for the order in chaos draws me to editing. When I receive the footage of the recently shot video, short film or feature film, the same excitement that I had while making collages, rushes in and I can't wait to finish the work just to see how good it feels in the end, to watch a finished film.

My process includes reading the script, then watching all the footage, then focusing on individual scenes, then shots and then takes. I have to make sure that I am telling the story in the most effective way, paying attention to the director's vision and hand-picking the memorable moments delivered by the actors. 

CW: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
AS: In five years from now, I see myself being even better at editing and in general, at aspects of filmmaking. I would love to continue to write as well. So something will come to fruition from that too.

CW: What's your ideal project? AS: It's hard to define an ideal project. A good script is always a part of the ideal project. Also, the director and producer, the actors too play a definitive role in the ideal project.

CW: What can my readers only learn about you here on This is Candy Washington?
AS: Even though I prefer to be behind the camera, I'm also a trained Indian classical dancer. I'm a good cook. I love to host private dinners, mostly Indian cuisine with my close friends.

CW: Anything else you want my readers to know?
AS: If you really want to do something or pursue your dreams, just go for it. You will hear a lot of voices saying it's impossible, or it has not been done before or plainly you just can't do it. A lot of things were impossible until someone dreamed and dared to do it. You get just one life to go after your dreams. So use it wisely.

Contact Archana:
View her reel: http://vimeo.com/cineoramaa/archana-shinde-demo-reel 

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