Jhanvi Motla’s love for storytelling began in high school. An Indian based out of the US, Jhanvi, was a student of theatre and it was during this time that she realised that she wanted to make a career out of making movies.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Jhanvi worked as the assistant to Max Mutchnick, who was the co-creator of the sitcom - Will & Grace, and after graduating from the AFI Conservatory, she went on to produce commercials, corporate videos and other short films.
“I was eager to produce my own work,” she remembers. “I was accepted as a Producing Fellow at the prestigious American Film Institute's Conservatory where I produced over seven short films and worked as a Unit Production Manager on a dozen other movies. Despite the uncertainty that comes with freelance work, nothing makes me happier than being on the sets and bringing stories to life. I hope I can work on movies and TV series until my body can't do the gruelling work it takes to do this job.”
Jhanvi finds that the toughest part of the movie business is understanding how to make moviemaking a profitable venture. And finding the investors who believe in your idea.
“That is the hardest but also most rewarding part of filmmaking. As far as the easy part goes, I would say that because I love making movies, I don't find my work hard or boring,” she says.
She is currently on the production team of the feature film - Wednesdays, which is directed by J. Lee of the director of The Orville. She is also wrapping up post-production work on the short film- Spinsterhood.
Jhanvi’s parents wanted her to be a doctor. “But I saw a goat being slaughtered when I was ten and I just knew it wasn’t something I could do,” she says.
With her love for theatre, Jhanvi started looking at the work of different filmmakers and producers. She found her role model in Guneet Monga, an Indian film producer, who is a BAFTA nominee, and has produced films like - The Lunchbox, Masaan and Gangs of Wassepur, Part 1.
“I think what I love about Guneet the most is the fact that she forayed into indie cinema at a time where formula blockbusters ruled the world of Bollywood. I certainly know how lonely the path of an indie producer is, so I'm grateful that she worked so hard and put some amazing Indian movies on the map. As young filmmakers, we often use her work as an example of Indian stories proving to be commercial successes and I count my blessings that I can rest on the shoulders of such an incredible woman,” says Jhanvi.
However, today with the explosion of digital platforms, social media and YouTube, she says finding collaborators and generating quality content is much easier than it was a few years ago.
The challenge now is how to make your work stand out at a time when everybody can pick up an iPhone and make something they can upload to YouTube. Jhanvi says while it feels challenging, it definitely pushes you to ensure that your product is as unique as possible.
“I usually like working on scenes that go from seemingly harmless to something ripe with conflict. I like constructing tension over a few of them,” she adds.
Speaking of her future plans, Jhanvi says, “In the future, I hope to have my own production company. I moved to the US because I think there's a big gap in content that appeals to Indians globally. Bollywood is a mammoth but I think it's only just starting to be less insular. Through my company I would want to tell stories about India/Indian Americans and have global appeal like Lion, Namesake, Bend it Like Beckham, The Lunchbox and the like.”