Interview with Award Winning Filmmaker Sreejith Nair (THE COLOR OF ME)

THE COLOR OF ME was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the September 2018 LA FEEDBACK Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Sreejith Nair: This approach to the topic of racism and insecurity really came from the fact that I am Indian, but I am born and raised in America. Here in America, people look at me like I am a foreigner, but I don’t feel like one. In India, I don’t look like a foreigner, but I feel like one. I face a lot of judgment from other Indians when they find out I don’t speak Hindi, or I don’t watch Bollywood films that often, or that I have limited knowledge of Indian customs or traditions. Throughout my whole life, it seemed like I was a part of two worlds, but never completely belonged in either of them. I often questioned “how Indian” I really am. Some of my friends joke around with me by saying “I fail as an Indian.” Are there certain things I’m supposed to be doing just because I’m Indian? I have often questioned, “What if I was a black person” or “What if I was white?”, would my life be so different? Could I still be the same person if I wasn’t Indian? What if my skin could change color? So I wanted to write a story that asked, “If I am a person of a different race or ethnicity, how much is my race supposed to define me? If I am a person of color, can I still have the freedom to be whoever I want without worrying about representing my ethnicity?” I want this story to show that you can be anyone, no matter what color you are.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

1 year of writing
2 months of pre-production
6 days of shooting
1 year of editing
5 months of post-sound

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Racist fairytale

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Directing 5 actresses to play the same role, and directing one actor to act along aside 5 different woman as if she was the same person. I don’t know of any other film that uses this technique of having multiple actresses play the same role, so it was my chance to come up with new directorial skills.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

The comments that I really loved was when an audience member said, “I can relate to this movie”. That comment really showed me that this movie accomplished it’s mission of addressing the issue of racism while still being a fantasy film about a girl with a curse. And just listening to the audience talk about scenes in the film and connecting it to their actual life really raised my spirits and made me believe we did a film that is important.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

When the idea became about a girl who changes skin color, I immediately wanted to do a fairytale. She grew up with this curse and believes that not having white skin is considered ugly. When you have a character who is experiencing something supernatural, you have to have a regular person to serve as the entry point to introducing the supernatural element, otherwise the audience may not be able to follow it. I didn’t want the main character to be Indian like me, I wanted to step out of my own box for this film, I decided to make him an adopted African-American. Having my main character, Lewis, be adopted was a reflection of how I’m an Indian man raised in America, so we both have the insecurity of being raised in a community outside our skin color. With that, you have a story of two characters, with two different upbringings expressing their views of the world, and in this case, how your skin color is perceived.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

The entire Godzilla franchise, is my favorite movie franchise of all time.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I love FilmFreeway, I use it all the time. It’s a very quick and easy way to find festivals and submit to them. I recommend it for all filmmakers.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite song.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

My ultimate goal is to get this in front of as many producers as possible and hopefully make The Color of Me feature film.

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