NXTUP Nominee: Best Commercial/PSA

Neil Soni

Motion Pictures & Television / BFA

I remember it all started with my toys, I would recreate scenes from iconic action movies using my action figures ‘GI Joes’. Back then I didn't know what filmmaking was, all I knew that there were movies and I was fascinated with them. I loved watching movies and my inquisitive mind always questioned how they were made.

I was confused growing up and didn't know what I wanted to be. My parents always marvelled at their friend’s children, who knew their future from the day they were born and they would often ask me, “Son, what do you want to be when you grow up” and I would stand there blank with no real answer.

In India, those are not absurd questions. There were only a handful of professions every Indian parent wanted to hear and filmmaking was not one of them. So here I was, one day going to be the greatest engineer in the world; another day, a doctor, Nobel prize-winning physician, astronaut, pilot, a businessman and even a scientist.

But I had other plans, I wanted to be a filmmaker and to get my foot in the industry I became an actor. Even as an actor, I wanted to play swashbuckling, fearless hero saving the world, vanquishing villains, saving damsels in distress. But what I really played was character roles quizzically looking at the lead, saying, no, yes, Really? Sold cheap helmets, defective clothes, even sham cream for men, don't get me wrong, those were some commercials I did back in my days.

When Bollywood didn’t come breaking down my roads, I eventually made my way to San Francisco California where I enrolled myself in a film school to study life behind the camera. Finally I was doing what I always wanted to and within a short time, I found my calling: a director.

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