I cannot let my lows dictate my story, but they do ground me, says Avinash Vasu
One of the youngest short filmmakers to be featured at the Cannes Film Festival 2014 and later in 2017 again, Pune-based Avinash ‘Avi’ Vasu has made films in six different languages, including Hindi, Marathi, English, French, Urdu, Gujarati, Tamil and a fictional language of Parseltongue.
Tell about your educational background?
I did my graduation from the Foundation for Liberal And Management Education University (Flame) University. I graduated with a major in film making and a minor in Psychology.
How do you see yourself as a student?
I was at my prime in college which had a unique structure allowing me to exactly learn what I want to and so excelled at those subjects. By the time I graduated I bagged the gold medal in film-making and also had some serious exposure to the kind of professional life I was hoping to live ahead.
Tell us about your journey after graduation?
During college I had started a production house with some friends and we made around 30 short films together . After I graduated, we sold the company and parted ways. Then in Mumbai, I started a new production house Erango Media LLP. The first film I made under this banner was Lost & Found (2014). It was my dream to one day walk on the red carpet at Cannes and Lost and Found was my shot at that. It was selected and it premiered at the Short Film Corner at the Festival de Cannes. I even took part in a short film making completion there and won. Then, I went back four times after that and made so many amazing friends in the international film community. Last year, I made my first mini feature, Coma Cafe, which premiered at the Cannes Market in 2017. We had two screenings at the iconic Babylon Theatre in Berlin during the Indo German Filmweek, and even won the Audience Choice - Best Feature - runner up award in the South Asian International Film Festival at the Landmark Sunshine Theatre in New York.
How did your college play a role in shaping up your career in cinema?
The unique structure of my course at Flame was very instrumental in making me what I am today. In my first two years I had to study 30 subjects, but I could choose which ones I wanted. Imagine studying cinematography, genetics, the history of rock music, English literature, Art history and Positive Psychology at the same time. It was a unique experience that really let me explore a more rounded approach to the world. Today, I know while I write a character, I can delve into the many subjects I learned to create more honest and truthful stories.
What inspired you to take to this industry?
I had to become a filmmaker. Growing up I dreamed of being an astronaut, a spy, a time-traveller, a scientist, an artist, a sportsman, everything! Well as a filmmaker, I can experience all these lives and stories. It was written. I’m living that extraordinary life everyday, one story at a time.
What are the highs and lows of your journey?
Being screened in international film festivals and getting awards were definite highs as a young man in the film world. Some of the best moments in my life so far were shaking Martin Scorcesse’s hand, Watching Pulp Fiction with Quentin Tarantino, John Travolta and Uma Thurman on Cannes beach, and when Guy Pearce asked me, “Looking good! Who does your tuxedos?” Now I get excited when I meet other artistes that want to collaborate and create art together. There are definite lows too in the journey, especially when it comes to losing close friends or loves, but I believe that my story is just beginning and I cannot let my lows dictate my story. They do, however, ground me and make me understand their importance in my journey.
Your future plans? Upcoming projects?
I am currently working on a thriller web series with some twisted stories. I’m also writing a fantasy epic saga.
As a young filmmaker, any word of advice for aspirants?
I think it was my first class of filmmaking when my professor told me, “Filmmaking has many rules. Learn them all so you know exactly how to break them.” Theory gets you only so far, but challenge yourself and make it. Pick up a camera and shoot. and always remember: The story is your god, your art and you must “be artistes”. Camera clarity, star casts and big budgets can’t save you if you don’t have a story that’s worth telling.