Want my job? with Ava Majumdar, Junior Producer Director

Ava, a junior producer and director at Mediorite, shares her journey in the film industry. She discusses her passion for storytelling, the challenges she's faced, and the importance of diversity and representation in filmmaking.

Want my job? with Ava Majumdar, Junior Producer Director

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I’m Ava! I’m a junior producer, director, and documentary filmmaker working at a social enterprise video production company called Mediorite, which helps diverse young people in London and Leeds get into the creative sector.

What does your job involve? Give us the typical outline of a day?

Every day is wildly different in my job. I might be location scouting, casting, conducting research interviews, editing, producing, or out on a shoot. As I work for a small company, I do a bit of everything. I love the variety; it means I never get bored. It’s worthwhile because a good director should have knowledge of all the parts of the film process, from pre-production to distribution.

What’s great about your job?

I love being creative, getting to know people and adapting the style of film so it stays true to their character or reflects what the story is about.

I am always learning – you can never know everything about filmmaking, which is oddly comforting. Even the most experienced person on a set still has things to learn, so it’s a lifelong pursuit.

Another part of my job that is great is meeting inspiring people and communities. It’s amazing being able to help people by promoting them or their charity to spread awareness or getting support for a cause.

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

I don’t like the organising that comes with the production side of my job. It doesn’t come naturally to me at all but it has taught me a lot of useful skills which have benefited me inside and outside of work. Luckily, I work with a super organised production manager who makes sure my work stays detail-oriented!

What are the highlights of your career to date?

I made a short documentary about a group of ecstatic dancers which won best documentary at an international film festival. Every time I get good feedback from someone I have made a documentary about, it puts a smile on my face and makes the hard work worth it.

What was your career path into this job? Have you also worked outside the arts?

I specialised in documentary filmmaking at Goldsmiths University and then got involved with Mediorite when I joined their youth board. We met once a month, had talks by industry professionals and were set film briefs to come up with ideas for. I started doing freelance jobs for the company because of this and then I got offered a contract by the founder, Lucy Ferguson (MBE). She is super inspirational and really cares about helping young people achieve what they want in their careers.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

A lot of things I am passionate about are based on my identity and the kinds of things that resonate with me. For example, I am British, South Asian, and queer, and am interested in stories about diaspora and LGBTQ+ voices and finding community and belonging in different spaces than where you are from.

Did you have any role models or inspirations growing up?

I have always really loved the films of Pedro Almodovar, which are campy and queer but can be beautifully raw and touching. He captures and celebrates womanhood with a nuance that is hard for a man to achieve. I also find the documentary photographer Nan Goldin inspiring; her work is powerful and intensely personal. I admire how she has dedicated her life to causes that she cares about which is documented in All The Beauty and the Bloodshed. From the AIDS epidemic to the current opioid crisis in America, she champions the underdog and fights for social justice.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge I have found in my career as a director is having no one else to answer to but yourself. So even if you are unsure of something or feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you need to have the confidence to always take the lead on a project. This is especially hard because I am young and often working with people who are more experienced than me. I overcome this by making sure I am as prepared and researched as possible and as I have grown in confidence, learnt from my mistakes and have more projects under my belt, I found it easier and easier.

Have you had a mentor anytime during your career, and if so, how has having one made a difference?

I currently have an amazing mentor, Nicola Leddy, who is a female documentary filmmaker. I met her on a job which I assisted her on about a Ukrainian refugee who works for an interpreting service called ClearVoice. So far, this relationship has been hugely beneficial, helping me to be more business-minded and confident. For me, it’s important to be mentored by a woman and learn how to have a voice and use it in such a male-dominated industry.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what?

I think I have a somewhat skewed perception of the industry in my work because as a company our social aims are about getting diverse young people into the industry that might not otherwise be able to access it. So I work with a talented range of people from diverse backgrounds which differs from the industry as a whole and has put me off from working for certain companies in the past.

This demographic is changing slowly but every person with the power to should be making more of an effort because we can’t tell nuanced stories that are representative of the diversity of human experience if these people aren’t part of the crew.

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

Don’t be afraid to be yourself because it’s what’s different about you that makes you special. Also, trust your instincts more and care less about what other people think or you’ll end up pleasing no one, least of all yourself. Finally, only surround yourself with people who uplift you and don’t keep anyone in your life for the sake of it.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in doing your kind of job?

Find what you’re passionate about and create that. If you’re interested in it, you will make better work and chances are other people will be too. Also, it’s really important to make sure you are doing something for the right reasons. You are in a position of power as a filmmaker. In this industry, it is really easy to exploit communities or not have their best interests in mind when creating something about them.


Find out more about Mediorite here. 

Header Image Credit: Image provided by Magda Knight/Mediorite

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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