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American Hostess
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Shilpa Sunthankar
Writer/ Producer/ Director
Founder of PushStart Productions
 

Raised in what she calls “cowboy country,” Fort Collins, Colorado, Indian-American filmmaker, Shilpa Sunthankar, found solace in storytelling from an early age, acting in productions and classes, both locally and in nearby Denver.  Shilpa entered college expecting to follow in the footsteps of her engineer father and physician mother; however, after a couple of semesters, she made the decision to “discover what really motivated her life” and went to Los Angeles for intensive actor’s training while auditioning for a TV pilot season. It was there she discovered a calling for filmmaking.

Shilpa applied to several prominent film programs in the country; to distinguish herself from other applicants, she submitted a short film created in 8mm – a more deliberate and meticulous medium. After being accepted into all the schools to which she applied, she chose to attend NYU’s acclaimed Kanbar Institute of Film and Television at Tisch School of the Arts.  Shilpa made use of her time - making fifteen short films and contributing on numerous student and independent productions, including Chutney Popcorn (1999), a feature length film starring Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan) and Ajay Naidu (Office Space). 

In her final year of school, she went overseas to intern in London for the BBC and Elstree Studios, and was accepted into the Master Class in 35mm Filmmaking at FAMU in Prague - whose alumni include Oscar and award winning directors Milos Forman, Jiri Menzel and Agnieszka Holland. Shilpa says the time abroad taught her a completely different approach to filmmaking. “I learned to paint a frame with light and color in a way that wouldn’t have been possible elsewhere.”

Shortly after graduating with honors from NYU, she relocated to Portland, Oregon. Attracted to the area’s creative and independent approach to filmmaking, Shilpa hit the ground running. While writing a feature screenplay and producing short films, she freelanced in production for award winning animator Chel White of Bent Image Lab (animated SNL segments and commercials for Kellogg’s); Wieden & Kennedy (Nike, Starbucks); among other prominent production companies in Portland.

Shilpa’s 2004 short film Biography of anAmerican Hostess, which she directed, produced, wrote and starred in, successfully toured festivals in the U.S. and Canada, and was awarded the Rumblefish Post Production Award by the Northwest Film & Video Festival. Her current screenplay, Seeta’s Demon, a modern day vengeance thriller paralleling the ancient Hindu story of The Ramayana, is winner of the 2008 Wildsound Screenplay Contest (Toronto), finalist in the 2008 Visionfest Screenplay Competition (Tribeca), and was under consideration for the 2008 Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab. Shilpa is working with producer Ryan Crisman of Read Entertainment to complete development.

Shilpa continues to work professionally in Portland, is married to prominent Portland artist Ben Adams, and is currently working on several projects for the future, including short film The Company of Thieves, which is in post-production.  Visit Thieves on Kickstarter or Vimeo!

 

 

Shilpa's Artistic Statement:

 

 

For an Indian American like me, raised in Cow-town, U.S.A at a time when cilantro didn’t exist in grocery stores, films like The Namesake, Water, and the scores of Bollywood films showing across America are quite a relief.  I also want to bring a different facet of the Indian American experience to the table.  I want to direct the stories that expose the grit and conflict of that relationship, to see that firecracker go off.

 

That's not to say all of my ideas are Indian American.  In fact, many of them are not, but they do all have my specific point-of-view, with elements I really enjoy- a good story, solid characters with their own life, and relationships that do things I don't expect.  So, if you like the same things, perhaps you'll join in my journey to bring these stories to life.  Thanks for dropping in.

Filmography
 
The Company of Thieves
Writer/ Producer/ Director; Narrative shot on Red One; Running time 16min 52sec.

Portland, OR, 2011


Biography of an American Hostess
Writer/ Producer/ Director; DV Narrative; Running time 18min 13sec.

Portland, OR, 2003

 
Both Sides Now
Producer, MichaelAngelo Filmworks
16mm AND DV Narrative; Running time 11min 10sec.

Portland, OR, 2001

(limited availability)

 

Sustenance

Producer/ Director; 16mm Narrative; Running time 8min.

New York University, NY, 1998

(currently unavaliable)

 

Six Student Video Shorts

Producer/ Director; Beta Video Narrative & Doc. shorts; Total running time approx. 20 min.

New York University, NY, 1997

(currently unavaliable)

 

Five Student Film Shorts

Producer/ Director; 16mm Narrative shorts; Total running time approx. 14 min.

New York University, NY, 1996

(currently unavaliable)

Professional Experience

 

Shilpa has freelanced in various aspects of Film & TV production for 14 years- long and short form, commercial, film and even animation. 

 

Click HERE to take a look at Shilpa's resume.