Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Lakshmi Devy of FiDi Talkies Is Helping To…

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Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Lakshmi Devy of FiDi Talkies Is Helping To Change Our World

Stay hungry, work hard, and work smart. That itself will influence others to follow your pursuit. Always find a way to help and try and align your work with that. Kindness and awareness are the two pillars of the beginning of change.

As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lakshmi Devy.

Born in New York, Lakshmi Devy is an actress, director, screenwriter, and producer of Indian descent. She spent most of her early life in New York City, and her formative years in Kerala, a state on the tropical Malabar Coast of India. Lakshmi shuttles between both locations and is well tuned into both cultures. From an early age, Lakshmi expressed an artistic talent and passion for the performing arts. Lakshmi ventured into the world of films with her directorial debut, Daro Mat — Don’t Be Afraid. The short film, in which she also starred, created ripples across international film festivals for her honest portrayal of the plight of women raised to not have an opinion. The film is now available on YouTube with over three million views, to date. Her next short film, When The Music Changes — executive produced by Hollywood Icon John Turturro, shined a light on a rape survivor’s tale. When The Music Changes won many honors for Lakshmi throughout international film festivals including the Gold Remy Award for Best Director at the prestigious 54th WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. With that award, she joined the ranks of other recipients in the industry including Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas, Ang Lee, The Coen Brothers, Oliver Stone, and David Lynch. The indie film is now available to stream in the U.S. Lakshmi launched FiFi Talkies, her own New York City-based production company, in 2017. The focus of the company remains on producing content with an exceptional technical crew from around the globe. Focusing on the making of feature films as well as music videos both within and outside the United States, FiDi Talkies produces content with strong storytelling flair, entertainment value, and social awareness.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

I have always had an inclination towards the arts, I just had no idea that it could actually be a profession. Modeling and film offers in med school change the trajectory of my life for the good. A taste of life in front and behind the camera was addicting, and I knew that this was my actual destiny.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your filmmaking career?

The transition from Actress to Director/Actress has actually been quite interesting. The rape scene in the film was done as a single shot. To get everything on point with regards to technical aspects as well as the acting portion was quite challenging. It was even more challenging to finish the shot and have to relive it while checking the monitor or sitting on the edit. My film, When The Music Changes, has definitely been the most challenging and cathartic project of my career.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Having John Turturro on as an Executive Producer was surely a huge vote of confidence for me. I am extremely grateful for his support. My very first review of the film was by Tim Van Patten (Director — Game of Thrones, Sopranos, Sex And The City). I remember reading the review and my eyes tearing up with joy. He wrote me such a detailed and glorious review of the film that I still hold very close to my heart.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

I have always been fascinated by Marilyn Monroe. Her journey is a true depiction of strength, vulnerability, ambition, and sadness. Her story rings true even today. Most of the challenges she faced, we as women in the industry still face today. Marilyn was branded as a sex kitten, but was so much more. Intelligent, ambitious, passionate, hardworking are all adjectives that should be used while addressing this phenomenon of a woman. It’s interesting that decades later, we as women find ourselves with some of the same struggles she had faced.

Oprah Winfrey has been a huge influence in my life. I was always surrounded by a society that taught me that obedience and compliance was a sign of a good woman, and that was what we had to aspire to be. Listening to what Oprah had to say, made me feel strong and unique and helped me take the risks that led me to fulfill my life’s dreams.

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

The film provides a good view into physical and mental torture. The aspect of victim shaming and “losing one’s honor” is a core point in the film. The film provides an insight into the cruelty of rape culture.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

I never had an “Aha Moment.” It sort of grew on me, and I never knew I could make a profession out of it. Now, I can’t really see myself doing anything else.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I have had the honor of working with famous and brilliant technicians. At the same time, I have also worked with people who are terrible at their job. To be honest, it’s the people who are really horrible at their job that influenced me. It gave me insight into my own capabilities and the confidence to pursue filmmaking.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Funding for women headed films is still nascent. Since we have a lot of catching up to do, more portals with regards to funding would be ideal to be able to greenlight more projects and have more women in the industry.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Find your tribe and find them fast.
  2. Do not wait for someone to hire you. Make your own content.
  3. Build social capital
  4. Pay attention to social media and growing your brand
  5. Never put all your eggs in one basket. Always knock on 5 doors at the same time. It’ll save you time and agony.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Stay hungry, work hard, and work smart. That itself will influence others to follow your pursuit. Always find a way to help and try and align your work with that. Kindness and awareness are the two pillars of the beginning of change.

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

I am always on the lookout for wonderful screenplays and well as strong producers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I am the maker of my own destiny.” This is a constant reminder for me to continue striving and pushing forward, no matter what obstacles I may face.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram — @lakshmidevy

Twitter — @lakshmidevyNYC

Facebook -@lakshmidevyNYC

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!

Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Lakshmi Devy of FiDi Talkies Is Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.