Education, Education, Education

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Me, aged 11 winning a school prize for academic excellence. I was insufferable then as I am now.

Sangeetha was about eight or nine when her grandmother who was a maid  in our house brought her to me. Sangeetha was falling behind in Maths at her school (which is also the state school that I went to) and could I help her improve some how? I had just got my degree then and thought it would be easy to teach some primary school maths and so agreed to the request. What followed was hours of torturous tutoring which cemented any illusion I may have had of becoming a teacher one day.

I was baffled at how Sangeetha was unable to grasp simple addition. I couldn’t understand how the school had let her get to fourth standard without being able to add two and two together. Perhaps no one thought to give Sangeetha, the great-grand daughter and grand-daughter of house maids, much of a chance. After all, what good was being able to multiply sixteen times two hundred and twenty two when you were only going to mop floors and clean laundry all day? But then again, may be in the hands of a better, kinder teachers, Sangeetha would have flourished. I simply wasn’t cut out for the task.

Some what predictably enough, Sangeetha was married off a few years later and gave birth to two children in quick succession. She was still only eighteen or so when I last saw her.

I am fortunate to have been born into a family where there was never any doubt about my access to good education. And I could have studied for as long as I wanted to. That I never took up such an opportunity is altogether a different story. But not everyone is as lucky (a fact I never fail to remind my children). In many parts of the world even today, education is a privilege rather than a right.

And hearing stories about education from children across the world, can make us appreciate just how lucky we are. Which is why when my good friend Lucy Lee mentioned about the animated short films she was making telling personal stories of how kids access education in different countries, I wanted to support her crowdfunding campaign.

Lucy is a passionate and talented animator whose eye for detail and sympathetic approach as an artist mean that she will enliven even the most mundane of narratives. And in her hands stories come alive.

You too can support her crowdfunding campaign here –

And when the films are done, I will make sure I get my kids to watch them. May be then they will appreciate just how fortunate they are to have homework. I can dream, can’t I?


Youth Choice, Youth Voice

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Tomorrow’s Directors

Earlier this week, I helped run a two-day film and animation workshop for young people.    It was part of my son’s winning bid for the Youth Choice, Youth Voice programme from the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. He wanted to run such a workshop where he and his friends could decide the contents and the structure with some guidance from adults. And that’s precisely what he got.

Tomorrow’s Animators

Back in August, I planned a little meeting with my son and my good friend Lucy Lee who’s also a talented animator to plan the workshop. He dictated what he wanted out of it and how he wanted to run it. And for our part, we suggested ways it can be improved upon. He jotted his plans down in a blog here. We then got in touch with Resource Productions who are experts in training young people to give the whole programme branding and promotion. They readily got involved and after finalising such detail as venue and date, we began spreading the word.

The response was sadly as not as resounding as I would have liked it. However, those 20151027_112604that signed up to the workshop were keen participants. So over the Monday and Tuesday of October half-term week, we made two live-action music videos and the three stop-motion animation videos. I could tell you just how great it was but I’d rather leave you with a testimonial from a parent whose son attended the workshop.

“This is a testimonial for Tomorrow’s Directors. My Son attended the workshop with Abhi and Lucy yesterday and Monday and he had a really terrific time. So much so that at the end of it Robert asked Abhi whether they were going to be doing any more workshops. As a Parent I was very impressed by all of the final films and was impressed that Abhi and Lucy soon identified all of Robert’s strengths and harnessed and utilised them to make the film really terrific.

But the best bit of all for me was Robert’s reactions when I asked him how his first day had gone. Sometimes the reactions of Trainee Teenagers can be lukewarm at best but he just said one word ‘Great’ and then proceeded to give me a blow by blow account of what had happened. Then, yesterday when I collected him, he couldn’t wait to show me what they had done. Abhi was very complimentary about his involvement but I think that Abhi and Lucy have to take the credit for drawing his skills out of him. I would recommend Tomorrow’s Directors to anyone interested in any aspect of film making and would really appreciate it if you could advise us about any future workshops that are in a similar vein – especially if they are being run during school holidays. Thank you again.”

We are planning on running more such workshops. So if you are interested in them, then drop me a line at abhi @lifesizevideos. com

From Maidenhead Advertiser, 29th of October 2015

Meanwhile, watch this space for the videos that were created at the workshop.


In Animate

With Lucy Lee and our respective kids
With Lucy Lee and our respective kids

I first met Lucy Lee over 10 years ago when I was looking for someone to collaborate with and Dom Oliver of Resource Productions introduced me to her. Lucy is a very highly decorated animator and a graduate from the renowned National Film & TV School. I was immediately struck by how lightly she wore her achievements, almost as if she was embarrassed of it. We worked together on a short documentary and our friendship was cemented.

In the intervening years, Lucy and I have been part of training courses, funding applications, have become mothers, hatched plans for businesses, shelved those plans, reworked them again and been through an entire gamut of change. But what’s more, we’ve remained friends throughout.

So when I began making promos, it was natural that I would offer clients the option of animation in their video. Which is exactly happened when I did a promo for Be Happy Preschool recently. And the clients loved the resulting video which includes a lovely little animated sequence .

You can see the promo below. It’s a buzzing little piece, don’t you think?