Who are you?:

I am Sagnik Roy. I am a 17 year old highschool student and entrepreneur, from a small town here in West Bengal, India. I am really passionate about filmmaking, entrepreneurship, creating big changes and helping people globally. I currently am working on my business, “Fire Within Films”, which aims at shifting the mainstream entertainment industry and giving newer talents a chance at showcasing their worth, or helping them learn skills and earn themselves. I am also working on a non-profit organization named “Genesis”, which aims at solving (or minimising) some of the biggest global goals by the end of 2030.

What have you been doing at IMAGI-NATION {UNIVERSITY}?:

I have been enrolled in the Filmmaker stream and as a change project, I chose the topic of mental health and LGBTQ+ inequalities. I had initially thought of creating a 40 mins animated short film but eventually changed the plan. Now we are making a shorter version (1-2 mins trailer) for the same film. The story of the main film focuses on the life of Morbis, who has been through a lot of troubles and hate in his past because of his identity. It pushed him to an extremely dark phase in his life, where he almost took his life. But luckily, he got saved and while spending some time in the psych ward, he went through some art therapy sessions. That was when he started imagining a fantasy world where, along with his friend and companion, Orion, he fights all the negativities and emerges as a brave individual. His imagination continues throughout his Art Therapy, and as soon as he finishes making the art piece for the therapy session, he snaps back to reality, forgetting about everything. That is where the story begins.

We see immense progress in Morbis’ life, and Morbis becomes more curious as to what initiated the change in him. So he kept going back to the art piece he made, trying to communicate with it, till one day, the picture becomes a portal for him to travel back to the imagination world and witness his progress story for himself.

The beginning of the film is live-action, and so is the ending of the film. However, the part from where Morbis travels to the Imagination world through the portal, to the part where he comes back to reality again, is supposed to be animated.

At the moment, we are only focusing on the trailer, where we would show Morbis’ current life and his dilemma with the art piece, and a snippet where he is able to see some of his adventures in the imagination world.

Here is a link to the document for the trailer.

How have you been doing it?:

There are a few important things which I would like to mention here. First of all, the UNI community absolutely blew me away. I remember being clueless about my project till the end of May, after which I saw the progress everyone had been making in their respective fields and that inspired me a lot. Moreover, the fact that I had complete creative freedom over my project made me want to work harder to create some social change and work for a cause that I really care for. So I started by communicating with people. I spoke to two of my friends from different apps, put them in a group chat, and brainstormed ideas for the project. Eventually, both of them came up with the topics of LGBTQ+ inequalities and mental health and we built the plot together. They became the Creative Directors for the project. I then put the plot on a role-playing community on the Amino App, from where I got my co-writer. He and I have been working on building the story. It’s also interesting how we actually exhausted almost all our ideas and took the help of the Gaime Of Life. Gaime Of Life really helped us go wild with our imagination and include assets that we didn’t think we could include, before. Next, I posted about the project on the website of Casting Call Club looking for a narrator, from where we unexpectedly got multiple auditions and ended up selecting voice actors for the roles of Narrator, [Lead Protagonist] Morbis, [Supporting Lead Protagonist] Orion, and the antagonist. We further ended up choosing to bring an audio engineer on the team, and a video editor as well. The best part about this team is that it’s global. We have people from various regions in the USA, we have people from UAE, India, and New Zealand as well. Further, I’ve been taking assistance from DomDom D’Monte from AIME, regarding the animations and our conversations have really been helping me develop a sense of understanding of my responsibility as a filmmaker, and change maker. He also helped me by posting my work in his network asking for animators. I as well remember asking for help regarding the name for the project, and Parul Jagdish Punjabi (I hope I got that correct), suggested a really cool way of naming the project. Again, speaking to Will Wensley, my course coordinator was also a big turning point for the project. I really got to think more creatively and include certain things, for example, the live-action bit, which I wouldn’t have gone for. So I am really grateful for the fact that I have been building bridges, connecting with people worldwide and I’m also grateful to the AIME community for all the help and support. I have also been using an entrepreneurial approach towards my project, to really understand the “whys” for the project, who am I making it for, how am I going to promote it and what is the impact it would make. And for this, I would also like to mention the Entrepreneurship Academy I was a part of, “School Of Future”, which taught me the skills necessary for becoming an entrepreneur. I’m grateful for being able to use this skill for my film project.

Why are you doing it?:

This is a really difficult question for me, as there’s no specific answer to this. I am a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and I have had my fair share of troubles with mental health as well. Apart from that, I have always been very passionate about the entertainment industry and filmmaking.

Last year, as I was building my own business, I wanted to shift the mainstream media and come up with various passion projects which would help people globally. And I think I took the very first step to that, as a student of Imagination University.

I consider myself to be a change maker. As much as I can be an ambassador for building bridges, I also like creating groundbreaking changes and breaking the rusty old systems. In my personal life as well, I have always been the black sheep, so I really wanted to use that to my advantage so that I’m able to do some social good. I don’t have a specific community that I’m a part of. The world is my community if it accepts me. And I want to make the world better for everyone else. And helping drive some social good through films is absolutely a dream come true for me. I am empathetic towards the people dealing with mental health issues, trauma, depression, and anxiety and also to all those people in the LGBTQ+ community who have to go through day-to-day oppression. I just hope that my project ends up being a voice for the oppressed and it helps the weak regain their power. We can’t wait for change, we have to drive it ourselves. And we need to take the first steps for that. And that is what drives me and motivates me to help more people take charge of their lives. And doing that through films is amazing. Filmmakers are storytellers. They not only create films from a plot, they tell thousands of untold stories through their works. And I’m grateful for having this opportunity for doing the same.

Which Professor teaches your favourite IMAGI-NATION {UNIVERSITY} lesson and why?:

I would have to say, I love Professor Blue. Not just because I love the way he explains “Flipping The Script” but also because I find myself practicing it in my day to day life. I have been a part of everyone’s script till date, except for my own. So I thought it was necessary to be the change, even if it meant being the black sheep. That was the true beginning of independence, change, and shifting. Flipping the script is fundamental to creating groundbreaking changes to society and shifting rusty, old systems. And the way Professor Blue projects that through examples and real life quotes, it becomes much more easier for me, to visualize the impact of flipping the script, and applying it to my life.

What lessons in organising change would you pass on to other students in your course?:

To the new changemakers, all I want to say is, have brave goals. Imagine. Hustle. Create. Unless you’re able to go all-in and imagine a world without the problems you’re trying to solve, you won’t be able to realize it either. Go big. “Shoot for the moon even if you miss it”. Taking that first big step, failing, and then learning and moving forward is fundamental in our change journey. Change won’t come in a day. Or a week. Or a month. Maybe even years. But change is possible if you can channel your wild imaginations to actions. But change will *never* come if you sit in a place silently, hoping for a hero to fix the world while you just wait and do nothing.

You have the power to flip the script starting TODAY. All it takes is some courage, imagination, and empathy. If we want to create a fairer world, we have to work for it. Negotiate when needed. But also, it’s important to know your worth. If a negotiation doesn’t give you what’s needed, walk-off. You wouldn’t even need to compromise on your change journey while negotiating with someone equally passionate about what you’re doing. They will simply join in. And lastly, we are all artists. We have the brushes for coloring the world again, by covering up the gaps in society, removing them, and building a fairer world. If you’re able to imagine such a world, take the brushes and paint it out, hey, you’ve already started on your change journey.

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