We had the good fortune of connecting with Abbey Abeynayake and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Abbey, what is the most important factor behind your success?

The success of Abstract Digital Cinema (ADC) is accredited to our unique approach to each element in the production process.
Most notable problem on a film set is that you have a melting pot of artists and technicians speaking two polar opposite languages. Artists/Creatives work that right side of the brain where they source from emotion, feeling, and intuition. On the contrary, technicians are left-brain heavy. ADC merges both sides so that our projects are received by a global audience in a heightened and comprehensive manner.
Creatives want a scene to look and feel a certain way (i.e. warm, cool, isolated, etc.), and the technicians need specific measurements to recreate said vision. As you can imagine, there is A LOT of back-and-forth on set between these two groups. Which inherently adds to the ticking clock and every executive knows ticking clocks equate to increases in budget. When the team cannot achieve their desired vision and/or they just run out of time, they rely heavily on post production to fix everything.
I’ve been post-production editor for 20 years, and I can’t tell you how many times I hear “just fix it in post.” Sure, anything is possible when it comes to post production; editors, modelers, compositors, color graders, etc., can exponentially elevate a film to incredible heights. The real question is how much will it cost you to save your film or fix said issues? Again, adding to the overall budget. Hundreds of projects share this rigid shortcoming.
ADC takes the emotions and translates them into formulative 4K, 6K, and 8K digital cinema (DCI) initiatives. This is all done behind the scenes; the person responsible for those art-to-algorithm translations is the Technical Director. If we are working with a client who has their own Creative Director, our Technical Director works closely with them in combing through any production related issues.
All of our production and post team members are brought into early discussions. If we need to customize a look and/or camera workflow for that client, our software developers are right there to get to work. These are HIGHLY technical conversations discussing various DCI pipelines.
This saves us time and money before, during, and after production. When I started this company, my main goal was to limit the amount of unnecessary chaos so that our team could have more time to create without any added pressures.
Technology in this line of work is changing every day, and even our veterans are learning new advancements. Beauty of our brand is that we have no egos. I personally think that’s the main reason why we are so progressive within our workflows. That and we’re not afraid to take calculated risks in the technological landscape.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.

Anyone who chooses to be in the film industry, knows it’s going to be a tough road ahead. One day you’re in and the next you’re out. Having thick skin is imperative towards one’s success. When I think of my art, I think of my personal constitution.
My parents emigrated from Sri Lanka to the U.S. 35 years ago with just two suitcases. My childhood was very much a roller-coaster; we moved around a lot and poverty stricken most of the time. Nothing came easy for them albeit my parents had a tight hold. Education was the most important factor growing up. So, I went to college to pursue a career in medicine because that’s what they wanted. Oh and did I also mentioned they wanted me to be a neurosurgeon?! All the bars were set and there was no way bending them at that point. Even though I wanted to be a filmmaker, I felt insurmountable guilt because my parent did sacrifice a lot for us. This feeling is all too familiar for a lot of Asian Americans.
Around this time, I struggled with my sexuality as well; I had no mentors or family members to talk to about this topic. Culturally, it is a very taboo subject. Alas, I had six months to graduate, and I knew if I went forward, I was never going to pursue a career in film. I finally came to terms with who I was and told my parents, “I want to be a filmmaker and yes, I am queer.” It was a shit show. They not only disowned me for being queer, but also stopped paying for my tuition. I had to pick up three jobs just to put myself through college. Saying it was difficult is an understatement. I knew that I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I questioned why my life had more obstacles than my peers. After extinguishing paystubs for tuition, I had no groceries in my fridge. I was evicted. I dropped a substantial amount of weight. Car got repossessed… the list goes on. I met some of the darkest times during this period. I knew I had to redefine myself because simply relying on a college education wasn’t going to be enough; I had to do more than everyone else if I wanted to be at the top.
I taught myself how to edit on every piece of software, read every article, every book, and went to every lecture and/or conference. I promised myself that regardless of what obstacle I was facing or going to face, I simply had to persevere.
After graduating, I was getting turned down by many studios even though my resume was solid. I couldn’t figure out why no one would hire me and then I realized it had a lot more to do than just my resume. It’s been hard as a queer woman of color to be heard in this industry. This was the catalyst for building my company; I asked myself, “What is it that you need right now?” The answer was clear; I needed an opportunity to show what I could do. There are millions of people out there who are working hard to make their dreams come true. All they need is a shot to show the masses their potential. After going through hell and back, I was committed to giving those a platform to flex their shit.
Abstract Digital Cinema (ADC) is comprised of students, graduates, and industry professionals dedicated to sealing the gap between art and technology. We come from various gender, sexualities, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. ADC understands what our global audience wants because we, ourselves, come from those real parts of the world.
Out of all the lessons I’ve accrued over the years, one has exponentially reshaped my view both personally and professionally. We all choose our purpose in life, but we don’t get to choose how we get there (aka the purpose path). Far too many of us try to force how our purpose path should go and/or go against what’s inherently in us. We listen to friends, family, or even society when we already know what’s best for us. It’s that oversight that keeps us from truly achieving our true potential. No two people share an identical purpose. Your peers will get the money, the houses, the promotions, but that’s because it’s part of their purpose path, not yours. Surrender to the process and pay attention along the way.
Everything that happens to you is really happening for you. I want the world to know that we’re all sharing a universal consciousness. We need to come together and support one another if we’re going to make this world a better place. ADC aims to give opportunities to those individuals who need a shot. My recent project is a speculative fiction, “Alien Runner.” It includes an 8K DCI end-to-end pilot showcasing 8K drone, 8K land, and 8K underwater footage. The project is entirely self-funded and shot with ADC gear and crew. I’m also in the latter stages of writing a full season. We’re planning on pitching to streaming platforms by 2021.
My journey is far from over, the obstacles continue to present themselves. I will continue to surrender to whatever life has in store for me because in doing so, I am who I am today. Regardless of the setbacks, I absolutely love what I do; this is my purpose and I hope to give back to humanity as best as I can along the way.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh my, food and coffee are at the center of all my adventures! I live in Long Beach and tend to support small business when I can, so most of the spots would toggle between here and LA. I will say, though, we’d probably avoid all the tourist shit because I hate crowds. We’d checkout all the local spots. Head over the all my favorite coffee spots: Portfolio, Berlin Café, Rose Park Roasters, Bourgeois Pig and Intelligentsia Coffee. Eat/Drink at: Bake and Broil, Sushi AI, Alondra’s Hot Wings, Donut Friend, Salt and Straw, Sage Plant Based Bistro, Apotheke LA, the list goes on. Visit: LA Arts District, LACMA, The Broad, MOMA

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My foundation into this industry goes to three amazing professors: Desha Dauchan, Marie Cartier, and Elizabeth Cane. These women helped me understand the true art of storytelling and I will forever be grateful. When I decided to build my business, I really had to learn a lot on my own. Trial and error. My business affairs mentor, Laura Thommen (Sr. Director of Software Sales at StorCentric), helped me understand implications of the film business and how to lead a team not so much as an artist, but as an entrepreneur. And of course, I wouldn’t be who I am without my mother. We’ve come a very long way and I owe a lot of my growth to her.

Website: https://www.abstractdigitalcinema.com/
Instagram: @moldypillow
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/abbey-abeynayake-b638b4a9
Other: Personal Blog: https://www.moldypillow.com/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/abstractdigitalcinema

Image Credits
Property of Abstract Digital Cinema

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