We had the good fortune of connecting with Shranjay Arora and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shranjay, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
My dad still jokes about how my name “Shranjay” is just another term for Risk-taking, and he taunts my ability to be confident in taking risks. Not only has it cost me a lot in the past but also changed me completely. I understand his caring perspective, but I have lived all my life thinking nothing happens in comfort zone. Creativity which is the main fuel for my career only comes when you take risks. No mind can be creative when living in the comfort zone. Even in the movies, We know how important it is for a character to go through a conflict where they have to take risky decisions which changes them and provides them the character arc which we all relate to and learn from.
If human beings stop taking risks, we will just become dull. We are wired like animals, staying alert to our surroundings and always cautious of danger. We try to find our comfort zone and adapt to it since it brings us balance and peace. But how I look at it is that if we take risks and conquer our fears of failure, we will become elevated in our conscience and cherish the experience we got from taking that risk that our gut feeling told us to take.
Taking risks doesn’t mean succeeding each time. Most of the time it is a fail, but in today’s world, the confidence and the growth you get when you recover from that action creates persistence and gives you the capacity to stay strong even in the worse. With the pandemic on our doorstep, we all are taking risks and it’s changing us for good. We became stronger and more importantly, we got confident that it will all be okay in the end.
I had to make the riskiest decision of my life when I was studying Medicine. I loved Medicine, but I just couldn’t see myself on that path and I made my mind and changed my career to a creative one: Filmmaking. Knowing my path here onwards will be a lot harder and unpredictable but looking back at it today, trust me, it’s the best decision I made in my life. I finally found where I belong. Leaving my country to study in America and grow here was another hard decision that I had to make.
Shooting my Thesis film throughout the pandemic was also a risky choice I made while a lot of people in my class pulled back from shooting, Few of us managed to go through the hardship of new COVID-19 policies and changes to film shoots, but it made me realize the terms of filmmakers. This situation even forced us to take creative decisions around them, which I think is a huge part of our career anyway. It forced us to be more flexible with the situation and made us generate new possibilities we didn’t know we had.
Blindly taking risky situations doesn’t help either, It is also very important to know that taking a risk doesn’t mean you don’t calculate the outcomes early on and plan accordingly. The risk I am talking about is the courage to face the fear of uncertainty of the situation. The outcome usually doesn’t matter as it is the process that you go through matters, which gives you growth, the strength, and the confidence to keep moving on.
Lastly, If you are afraid to take risks in life then always remember: Failure is not the opposite of success, it is an important part of it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Growing up as a kid, I had always dreamt of making action movies since I loved them so much. I was very curious in learning ‘how they do, what they do’ from very early on in my life. When I was a teenager, I was making slideshows for my family for various family occasions, or just experimenting with some VFX elements in short videos I created all by myself or with my siblings. I used to surf on Youtube or research online and self-teach myself the art of filmmaking. Eventually, I grew up and I had to make major career decisions in my life. Due to my curious nature, I had always loved science as a subject as it helped me explore my questions about nature and the world. I was a good student, so becoming a doctor was inevitable in my case. Personally, I thought I’d become a filmmaker after becoming a doctor. It can’t be that crazy right?. After studying medicine for two years, right around the time I was giving all my medical entrances exam, I realized that this life path isn’t for me and if I want to be a filmmaker, I have to dedicate my life to learning that craft. I could never learn it all and the more I grasp the better filmmaker I become.
My parents were shocked at first but then they started understanding me and saw reason in what I wanted. I always wanted to heal people, but I was certain that I would still be healing people… with my films. I never wanted to have a 9-to-5 job and I didn’t want my job to be the same and stagnant, everyday, I wanted to be able to learn and grow constantly with my job and that’s why filmmaking synced with me. Fast-forward to today, I ran a Youtube channel with about 4K subscribers with 300K views which was about Filmmaking concepts mixed with video games in a musical experience, some Videogame parodies, and some creative Vlogs, I experimented with my voice on the internet and soon developed my own taste and style.
I am currently studying at New York Film Academy, Los Angeles. I’m in my last semester, and I’ve worked on numerous films and sets, including, “Spotted,” a short film I made and directed which won the Best Experimental Film in the 2020 Top Shorts and won Best Concept Art and Award of Merit in the 2020 Global Shorts, We also shot a music video for Andre Miguel – “The Fall Guy.” I recently directed a sci-fi/romance short film called “Proxy,” and I was the director of photography on a post-apocalyptic sci-fi short film “T.A.L.O.S.”
It definitely wasn’t easy getting here where I am, I had to constantly fight for myself. It wasn’t easy at first. I had nobody who knew or had an idea about what I wanted to do. It was unique for the place where I was in, but then it got easier, and talking to people always helps in figuring yourself out. I would just advise people to listen to their heart; your heart knows the best. Sometimes you will have to make difficult decisions, just think wisely and thoroughly and make the decision and then stick to it, you’ll be happy you did so. Nobody who ever gave it their all regretted it.
I see myself as a Director, Cinematographer, and Editor, willing to help bring the vision come true. I enjoy making sci-fi movies due to my background being from science. I find sci-fi movies very smart and intellectual as they talk about humanity as a whole from a specific lens or perspective. My goals and plan are to make future sci-fi/action movies. My few recent favorite sci-fi topics are Simulations, VR/Augmented reality, and SCP foundation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If my best friend was visiting me, I’d advise them to carry light and eat less or almost nothing before landing, since LA has the best cuisine and the most variety. You cannot PRACTICALLY Visit America without a car so I’d rent a car first, probably a mustang, as it’s the most fun and cost efficient. For the first few days, we would only go to coastal areas. I’d show him around Malibu, going through Malibu canyon road, then probably spend the rest of the day at Point Dume. On the return, we’d get Neptune’s Net. The seafood there is just impeccable.
The second day, I’d show him around the street vibe in Downtown, show him around Bradbury Building and finally eat at Grand Central Market (probably not if the pandemic is still around), Then I’d take him to show Glendale, The Galleria and finally to The Great White Hub, for their amazing Frita Fries.
Another day will be dedicated again for Santa Monica and just roaming the area on electric bikes, eating Chicken waffle from Bruxie, and maybe at Cheesecake Factory. The night would conclude with a delicious bowl of ramen – THE BEST RAMEN IN THE WORLD, according to me, is Tsujita Annex on Sawtelle Blvd.
Lastly, I wouldn’t let him leave LA without trying IN-n-Out Burgers, Umami Burger, pecan pie from Urth’s Cafe, and Aroma Coffee & Tea and without him traveling through Venice Beach, Manhattan Beach, Beverly Hills, Sunset Blvd and Hollywood.
Last day of his stay, I’d take him to Griffith park and conclude it with a late-night drive on Mulholland Drive.
I’d also tell him that with the amount of stuff to do here in LA, one week is probably a lot less than needed.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am proud of all the decisions I made in my life. It made me who I am, but I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for many great, lovingly awesome people who helped me throughout my life, my journey, and through the struggles of my career and still are a mega support.
My very supportive parents Vishal Arora & Shruti Arora and other family members, whom I many times don’t see eye to eye with, have helped me throughout my life in finding my own journey of who I am and what I am capable of.
My Brother, Vashisht Arora, not only challenges me with his wits to stay on top of my game but also, at the same time, takes care of me from the shadows.
My Mausi (Mom’s Sis), Joohi Mehrotra Pursohttam, not only has a huge part in helping me find my creativity but also introduced me to English Music, American Comics, and Hollywood movies very early on in my childhood which sparked my interest.
My Girlfriend, Seda Anbarci who has been a very supportive partner and an excellent co-worker who not only held me through my lows but also has encouraged me to be a better autodidact filmmaker.
Many teachers & faculty members from my college, New York Film Academy Los Angeles, especially, Richard Van Heertum, Jeff Hare, Sarah Warren, Brian Beery, Joe Burke, and Paul Laverack who helped me understand my craft, brush my skills and got me very interested in American History of the Cinema, Culture, and Art. They all gave me a deeper understanding of the craft and the responsibility of a filmmaker.
Buster Keaton, Jackie Chan, Edgar Wright, and Matthew Vaughn also deserve huge credit for making me the filmmaker I am today. They encouraged me to be a filmmaker and a compelling storyteller to inspire people around the world.
These are just a few of many unannounced amazing people in my journey who helped me throughout my story and still willingly are.
Kathrin Asmus Seda Anbarci