Miami has history with the film industry. Our beautiful city makes the perfect backdrop for visual creators, and our rich culture inspires storytellers around the world. Many people travel here to #makeamovie but today we’re focusing on the talents of Jaydev Hemrajani.
I was happily surprised to learn that before coming to Miami Jaydev grew up in the Dutch-Caribbean island of Curaçao. Now in his twenties, with several awards under his belt, he is learning the art of bouncing back after rejection, and to trust others with his artistic vision. I had the chance to interview this promising local about everything from his favorite Miami spots, to what advice he has for others in the industry.
Loving the black and white semi-serious look Jaydev! Let’s start by sharing with readers how you got started.
I was studying Business at UM and my friend was studying film. She needed help coming up with stories for her screenwriting classes. We would go on walks to discuss plots and characters and I was enamored by the process of crafting stories. That’s when I asked myself, “Why am I not taking this class?” So I suffered through a required class and a semester later was allowed to take screenwriting. The next semester I took my first production class. And from there, I caught the film bug and I was hooked.
So you’re telling me we have your friend to thank! You’ve learned screenwriting, you have your own production company, you’ve submitted to film festivals, won awards, I could go on and on. Tell us about the challenges you’ve faced in your career.
Some of the challenges for me have been trusting others, being young, and being taken seriously. When I was 23 when I was the Line Producer for “Make Love Great Again.” I had to hire, give instructions, and reprimand people that were much older than me. It was hard to be taken seriously sometimes. A beard definitely helped.
When it comes to trusting, sometimes, as artists, we have this vision and we want to protect it at all costs. However, through all my collaborations, more times than not I have seen others come into the picture and make my vision better than what it was before. It was not easy, but this made me learn to trust others in the process.
So true, what inspires you?
Growing up in Curaçao during my teenage years, I used to wait for Mondays. That’s when WWE’s Monday Night RAW aired on TV. The show was scheduled to end at 11 pm but always ended at 11:05 pm with a cliffhanger ending that would keep me waiting in anticipation for next Monday. I was taken aback by the power within storytelling and how a TV show could turn a dreaded day, like Monday, into an exciting one. That feeling of excitement inspires me. I am looking to be on the other side and entertain and excite people as much as I can.
In the future, I think episodic content with cinematic quality will be featured more over one-off indie films. Especially, episodic content for smartphones because currently, that’s where all the attention is. In that field, Quibi – the new streaming service just for the phone, has recently launched and is in a very interesting place to flourish.
“When I finished my thesis project, it was the first time
I was fully proud of a film I made.”
I was just talking about Quibi recently! It’s an interesting platform. As you look back at what has happened so far for you on your journey what sticks out as a memorable moment?
During my senior year of college, when I finished my thesis project, it was the first time I was fully proud of a film I made. I was excited to show it to the world and I ventured outside the University walls and submitted it to the Miami Film Festival. They said they would get back to me in two weeks. They got back to me in two days and rejected the film. What I remember was that I didn’t let it stop me. I continued making films, one of which was titled Zindagi, which I had produced and also starred in.
Two years later, I returned to the Miami Film Festival with the festival’s laurels gracing the poster of “Zindagi.” Our film premiered at the festival, and I was honored with the award for Best Actor. My producer mindset could only recall the fact that our movie could now be labeled as an ‘award-winning’ film. But overall, the premier, the accolade, and people’s reception made it quite a memorable moment.
That sounds like a very satisfying moment. If you could create with anyone who would it be and what words of advice would you offer to people wanting to do what you do?
For advice I have three:
- Showing up is half the battle – Get your foot in the door. It matters more than you think.
- Your attitude is the game changer – People work on films sets for 12 hours at a time. They want to work with someone that they can get along with it. Make sure your attitude reflects that.
- If you point out a problem, make sure you have a solution in mind – Anybody can point out problems. Stand out, and offer more by offering solutions.
For people I would like to create with currently, everything John Krasinski is doing is absolutely fascinating to me. From his horror movie, A Quiet Place, to his impromptu Youtube show “Some Good News”.
There are some TikTok creators that are doing incredible things and would it be fun to team up with them to create long-form content. There’s @TheAlexAllen who covers fitness in interesting ways and @TheRealRahulRai who talks about investing in entertaining ways. These people are gifted in front of the camera and it would be fun to work with them.
I love those points. I feel like they translate to pretty much every industry. Got any other tips for me like some of your favorite Miami spots?
Sure! When I’m looking for a place to take a break from life, sip a hot beverage, and let my thoughts flow I head to Panther Coffee in Coconut Grove. Alice C. Wainwright Park is a hidden gem in Miami. It’s the best place to feel the sea breeze, take a walk, and think about life. Lastly, Mary’s Café and Coin Laundry on 27th Street. It is the best place to get late-night cafecito or hot chocolate while snacking on pastelitos.
Thank you! I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Last couple questions; in your opinion what is the biggest problem facing our world today, and how do we solve it, and what’s next for you?
I am looking to create episodic content. There is an audio series called “Scrappin’ for Love” that is in production. It is placed in the near-distant future about a spaceman scrapping for love in hopeless space. There is also a talk show where I sip coffee with ordinary people who share extra-ordinary stories.
Not the biggest but a prevalent problem I see is with how we treat each other. I think it is so important to treat each other with kindness and live with gratitude. There is no harm in being nice to each other. It only takes a little effort and it makes the world a whole lot better.
That’s a wonderful message. Thank you Jay! (Hope it’s cool I call you Jay)😉
About Jaydev Hemrajani: started making films at the University of Miami (UM). He was the Line Producer for the film Make Love Great Again; which premiered on HBO Latino and is currently streaming on HBO NOW. Jaydev won Best Actor for “Zindagi” at the Miami Film Festival in 2018. The short film also secured distribution with PBS and aired nationwide in the fall of 2018. He has also written, produced, and directed multiple award-winning short films that have premiered on TV channels internationally. Jaydev is eager to continue to tell stories with memorable characters and entertain audiences worldwide. Keep up with all things Jaydev on Instagram, through his production company, and on Vimeo.