Tani Shukla: Women In Cinema
1) WHO ARE YOU? TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF, HEY, EVEN BRAG A LITTLE.
My name is Tani Paige Shukla and I am a filmmaker in Austin, Texas and will be graduating from The University of Texas’ Radio-Television-Film program in May 2017. I am currently working as an assistant intern for Kat Candler, local writer/director, and Kelly Williams, local producer, as well as Vice President of a student organization called Women in Cinema. I have previously interned for Vicky Boone Casting, The CW Austin, and Lobo Sucio Creative. Although I love writing and creating my own work, I have found a deep passion for post-production – specifically editing. Working with a director to help them see their vision become reality is a very exciting, intimate, and rewarding process. For those same reasons, I love producing projects and stories that I feel need to be told. Stories that tackle real issues, whether inspired by true stories or not, with dynamic characters that leave an audience creating conversations that can make a difference in the world.
2) TELL US ABOUT THE WORK YOU ARE DOING AND WHY IT IS IMPORTANT.
All of my focus at this point is going into my thesis short film, which is currently untitled. The story revolves around a brother and sister who have moved from Mexico to San Antonio seeking a better life. However, they are faced with difficulty and pain after the brother, who has Cancer for a second time, puts his Catholic sister in a position where she must decide whether or not to sacrifice her Catholic faith for her brother’s loss of will to live. The film will be shooting in late March 2017 on 16 mm film stock. This story will tackle issues of assisted suicide, immigration and racism, as well as religion’s influence over peoples’ lives. I’ve also recently produced a short film called Sunshine and Rain, which was directed by my good friend Vish Vallabhaneni. The film was awarded an Austin Film Society Grant for Distribution costs as well as an IndieWire Project of the Week, Kickstarter’s Project We Love, and premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival in October 2016. We are still waiting to hear back from other festivals and excited to see where it takes us. The film shows a different perspective of South Dallas that hasn’t really been shared, in addition to having themes of sacrificing education and future for supporting your family in times of need. Aside from these two projects, I edit short films and freelance for filmmakers in Austin as well as producing projects that will come to fruition in the future!
3) WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME CHALLENGES IN PURSUING THIS WORK?
Leaving high school and entering college, I was naïve and blind to the injustice all women experience – especially in the film and entertainment industries. We are sometimes seen as lesser. Less technical, less physically able, less assertive. The list goes on. However, we strive to break these false ideas because they’re simply not true. I’m not even fully immersed in the industry yet because I am still a student, but I can already feel the sexism. What sometimes happens is some male groups will form and they will continue to work with each other on all of their projects. In turn, it becomes difficult for a woman to join in as a strong and important part of that group. In an educational setting, it begins to feel like we are limited in opportunities, so we must make our own. I have found it generally difficult to be asked to work on projects where males are in charge and I have had to assert myself in ways where I am seen as aggressive. But the people who give me a chance to work for them and the ones that are willing to work for me are the people that I have the upmost respect for.
4) WHERE AND HOW CAN WE SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR QUEST?
Talk to me! If you have an idea for a project that matters to you, I want to hear it and talk about it. I want to be a part of meaningful art projects that make a difference. It doesn’t even have to be filmmaking. And if you like what I do, add me on Facebook or follow me on Vimeo and keep up with my latest projects. I will be launching a Kickstarter at some point for my thesis project, so sharing that on social media would help me muchly! And also, if you are a student at The University of Texas at Austin and have any interest in making films, join Women in Cinema! We would love to meet you.
5) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MANTRA?
I read a book that changed my outlook on life called The Four Agreements. It’s a Toltec wisdom book and I now live by its four simple rules:
1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.