Aditya Assarat talks about his year as a Rolex protégé
What was your most important artistic achievement before you began participating in this programme?
I’ve made a variety of films and videos, but I don’t find any one to be particularly important. I think a sustained body of work is more meaningful.
How did the mentoring year progress?
I think the time I spent observing the production of Mira Nair’s new film,The Namesake, in New York and India was very educational.
What was the best part of being a Rolex protégé?
The chance to work with Mira and also the chance for my work to reach a wider audience through the support of the Rolex programme.
Is there one incident or remark that sums up or typifies your relationship with your mentor?
The first day of shooting, Mira was hurrying to get the last shot before the sun set. We were out on a jetty surrounded by crashing waves and everybody was getting wet. When it came time to roll the camera, she had no idea whether the actress should look camera left or camera right. I realized that what she does is not much different from what I do. Film-making is the same everywhere. It’s a race against time, and every director is under pressure and makes mistakes. It gave me confidence that I can do what she does.
What was the single most important lesson or piece of advice your mentor gave you?
Always look good and be the centre of attention. Because being the director is like being the host of a party, she didn’t say this, but it’s what she is.
How do you think your work is similar to or different from your mentor’s? Was that a stimulus or a barrier to your relationship?
Our work is very similar. In fact, surprisingly so. The process of making a film is the same everywhere, and I’m already on the right track. That’s the most valuable lesson I learned from Mira.
Did you learn from your mentor any lessons beyond the practice of your art?
One afternoon we were shooting at a beautiful home on Long Island, which had a large sloping backyard that overlooked the bay. During lunch break, while the film crew went to eat, Mira lay on the grass watching the view and fell asleep. I think Mira puts her work in perspective. Only when you can stop and watch the view can you really make film-making work for you as a career and a life.
Can you describe in two or three sentences the most beneficial aspects, for you, of the mentoring year?
The interaction with Mira Nair. The chance to meet more people in the film community outside Thailand. The stipend that Rolex gives each protégé – for it would be a lie to deny that.
Has your approach to film changed or developed during the mentoring experience?
I think my knowledge has been solidified by working with Mira. It’s not that I’ve learned anything new, but more that what I’m already doing – my process of film-making – is essentially correct. That gives me confidence to continue on.
Now that the mentoring year has ended, which direction will your artistic career take?
I will continue to work as a director and hope that the support I’ve received from Mira and Rolex will show results in my work.