Please tell us about yourself
Akkta Panwar has been through a lot. Every experience has made her stronger as a creative professional. From copywriting and content writing to screenwriting, it’s a creative journey that deserves your attention. Also, she likes to daydream about her next backpacking trip.
If you aren’t freelancing or studying, where are you working and what’s your current job title?
I am in my final semester at the National Institute of Design, Paldi, completing my Masters in Film & Video Communication. Apart from working post-production of my graduation film, I work as a freelancer on branding, web content and advertising for brands along with a little bit of photography, video production and writing scripts. I initially did my Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Communication from Rajasthan University
What made you so good at what you do? What was your journey like from discovering your craft to acquiring the skill you have now? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and fascinating career?
You never know when you’re good enough. I think the pursuit of creativity is a life-long process and somewhere along the way, you get a sense of the kind of work you want to do and you just keep pushing yourself harder while learning on the go and by believing in yourself. I worked in advertising as a copywriter for around 6 years and then moved onto learning the craft of film with my masters at NID. The transition from being a writer to being a screenwriter and learning about the camera, film production and everything else associated with filmmaking was, to sum it up in a word, euphoric. It has been a journey full of hard work, collaborating with other talented folks and definitely immensely rewarding. The best part being, in today’s world, you can acquire new skills every single day. There is no dearth of places to learn from and if you are perseverant, you can get better at any skill in no time.
The one thing I’ve learned along the way is to eliminate the word no from my dictionary. Start by responding to opportunities and challenges with a ‘yes, I will do this!’ and you will see major results.
The key is to never stop learning.
After dealing with clients/bosses/teachers, which moment with them was the strongest learning experience for you?
In one of my several jobs during the advertising stint, I had a fight with my boss- a real, nasty, adult world fight. I quit that place, took a break for a month, travelled and, in the meanwhile, stumbled upon the film course at NID. Full of anger and vengeance, I filled that form and the rest, as they say, is history.
Sometimes, we don’t really know why things happen when they do, but if you just trust your instincts and take the plunge, magic does happen.
“Eventually, everything connects – people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se”, as Charles Eames put it aptly. Learning is present in every moment, you just have to be able to connect the dots.
In the whole world, whose work do you aspire yours to be like? What attracts you to appreciate what they do?
There are so many names, the list is endless.
But I’ve always had this funny habit of looking for inspiration everywhere. And so far I’ve found it in these places – a cobbler back in my hometown, who makes and mends shoes in the best possible way. There is no other cobbler I need in the whole wide world because there is nothing this one cannot make. There’s the 60-65-year-old antique seller kaka outside my institute who sits with his cart full of things keeping eras gone by alive for us. He’s there in the sunshine, in the rains and even on holidays and has the most content smile on his face doing what he does. A young, designer friend of mine who has such an impressive body of work at such a young age but just doesn’t stop working. A faculty member in the institute who always leaves me with something to think about after every single conversation I have with him. The guy who sells chai around the corner street, he wears only red and has more swag than most of us put together on campus.
I picked up these people from amongst my favourite filmmakers, designers and other immensely talented artists on my list because they have been a part of my life on a daily basis and just to watch them at work motivates me to work. They are an inspiration only because they love what they are doing and find so much joy and contentment in their chosen field of work although their motivations may differ from each other.
What do most people not realize about your work/area of expertise?
1. We don’t get what we deserve. We have to fight for it, every single day.
2. It involves truckloads of hard work, perseverance and keeping focused every day.
As writers, artists, freelancers and people pursuing creativity as their career, making ends meet is difficult despite having studied and worked at the best of institutions and being immensely good at what we do, I see most of us involved in haggling with clients over money, recognition or credits.
Especially in the current day and age, where tools are readily available, whether for photography, writing or other graphics related work. I have been often told by clients that they could have also done my work, but they just don’t have the time.
What these clients don’t realize is that everything we do leads us to grow as a creative in our careers and all the experiences, whether they are travelling, watching a film or simply reading a magazine, add to our knowledge and experience which is what they should be willing to pay for apart from the hired skill work.
When you hire a freelance creative to work for you, have faith in their ability to give you the best for your project and don’t treat it as a side job that you can get done for cheap.
Also remember, if you want it cheap and good, you won’t get it quick.
If you want it quick and cheap, it won’t be good.
And if you want it good and quick, it won’t be cheap.
Which project of yours are you particularly proud of? Could you tell us a little about it?
My graduation film that is currently in post-production is something I have given my heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears to.
Everything about the film is available on the link below, including pictures, challenges and thoughts worth sharing. Would love to share the final film with the world soon. Until then, you can read the behind the scenes here: https://www.bitgiving.com/shortfictionbyakkta
Can we have a piece of advice that helps you with your own workflow?
Believe in yourself; because no one else will if you don’t.
So, what are you working on now?
Apart from my graduation film, I am working on a branding, marketing, photography and content project for a pearl jewellery brand that is launching an online store soon. It is fun to work on this project as I am a self-confessed shopaholic.
Apart from this, I am working on website content for a Germany-based alternative housing solutions provider which is a great learning experience and a lot of fun.
What is also keeping me busy is designing educational workshops around films for children and corporates and drawing up a plan for better waste management in the community back in my hometown.
This, apart from daydreaming about my next backpacking trip.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Living on a farm with more than a dozen animals, farming organic produce, baking the best cookies, writing films and working on things that excite me on a daily basis.
What refreshes your creative juices?
Travelling (even a rickshaw ride!), being amidst nature, long walks and stimulating conversations.
Have you ever tried your hand at a different creative field? If yes, how did that turn out?
A lot of them, actually!
I’ve worked as a radio jockey and voice-over artist, advertising copywriter, production designer, filmmaker, branding & marketing content writer, chef, event planner, photographer and blogger.
Most of these fields have been immensely rewarding.
If you had to start afresh in the industry today, would you choose a different path and if so, what would it be?
At the beginning of my career, I had the choice of working with big names or with people I would love to work with. I chose the former.
If given a choice, I would definitely choose to work with people rather than agencies or companies that have a great brand value. A workplace can give you the perfect environment to work with the perks and brand name, but a mentor can give you much more than that, he/she will help you grow, and (hopefully) bring out the best in you.
I am now fortunate enough to be working with people from all walks of life, from music artists to academicians, and creative heads to entrepreneurs. I’ve figured what works for me is collaborating with passionate people from all walks of life.
If you could claim that any one person’s work in India as your own, who would it be?
Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the designer. So then, I would be able to afford everything I make 😛
Now that you’re a Spotlight artist, what would you like to say to ‘all the haters’?
Hahaha. Keep calm and wait for your turn.
In the Mood for Love by Wong Kar Wai.
A book everybody should read?
The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and also Elm and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto. They have similar subjects and use humour to light up the darkest of moments.
A quick tip to everybody who does the same job as you?
Ask for what you think you deserve; a lot of people will try to push you down, take favours, or not compensate you enough and these are people from the best business schools, own business empires and sometimes, even friends. If you think you deserve it, you do; then learn to fight for it. I’m talking to writers here, specifically, but all freelance creatives should hold their work in high regard and believe in themselves.
And hang in there. As people in the creative field, we are bound to a sine wave of exhilaration and depression. Enjoy everything as long as it lasts. From moments of extreme depression, you can sometimes create the best artwork of your life.
What’s the best project you’ve seen on IndieFolio?
Everything is super inspiring! Hats off to all you artists out there who have the courage to share your art with the world.
Could you make something exclusive for us in the next 5 minutes?
How about the world’s best spinach, mushroom, cheese omelette? I bet it will be the best you’ve ever had or will have.