Meet Mayuren Naidoo, the Kingston University student breaking boundaries in his career as a filmmaker.
If you had told Mayuren Naidoo about nine years ago that he’d become a skilled budding filmmaker, he probably wouldn’t have believed a word. After all, he was still chasing the comic book writer dream at that time. And yet, here he is, with his brand new short film, Vent, that made its way onto Amazon Prime in November 2018, and half a dozen more projects under his belt. When when you see that he’s achieved all that within four years, all while completing his studies, it’s safe to say he’s a true force to be reckoned with.
Up until now, the filmmaker’s journey has not been a walk in the park; on the contrary, it was full of confusion at the beginning, as he didn’t quite know what he wanted to do (just like any other teenager). Only when he was 16 did he suddenly stumble upon becoming a screenwriter, inspired by many films seen on his weekly visits to the cinema.
“I wrote a lot of screenplays since 2012, and I really wanted those to be made into films, but it was very hard to sell them,” Mayuren says.
“I remember sending a script to a big company after meeting one of the producers there. They didn’t like it, which was quite disappointing, but it was that rejection that made me realise I could just make all the films myself,” he adds.
And so he did. Inspired by a real life experience of finding a wallet while Christmas shopping, he made his first short film, Dirty Money, in 2014, with the help of his friends, a professional camera and his talent.
“I felt really proud at that time once the film was finished,” says Mayuren. “I did want to prove to people I could do it, but I also wanted to prove to myself I was capable of making my own films. Plus, I wanted to build my portfolio, so it was a great experience.”
That was just the beginning for Mayuren’s career as a film director and producer. Within two years, what initially started as a single short film steadily turned into a six-film collection called Life, Death and the Culmination. This was all proof of his determination and ambition to succeed, as well as the evolution of his filmmaking skills.
But the true highlight of his career happened in 2016, when his story of two students—one struggling with hallucinations, while the other looking for the person who injured his mother —turned from words on paper to an actual feature film, Midnight Sonder. The movie, which was entirely shot in the UK with a budget of only £1000, was released on Amazon Prime in the UK, the USA, Germany and Japan. Additionally, it won the Best Produced Screenplay award at the Creation International Film Festival in Canada, and the Bronze award at the Fameus International Film Festival in the USA.
Today we see Mayuren more confident than ever, and very proud of what he considers to be his biggest achievement yet: his latest short film, Vent, which premiered in November 2018 at the Blakes Hotel in London. The movie follows the story of Rose and Parker, a couple forced to live inside their flat as a result of a global, widespread radiation leak which happened three years ago. Fed up with the mundane conditions they are living in, Rose decides to take matters in her own hands and go outside, despite her controlling boyfriend’s attempts to stop her.
“I think this is my favourite film out of the ones I made because we had better resources. We had a much bigger crew, it was way more organised and I really knew what I was doing, compared to the other times, when I just made some films with my friends. It was more professional than the previous ones,”he says.
By now, you’re probably wondering: what’s the secret to his success? If you’re hoping for a carefully planned step-by-step tutorial, forget about it; that’s not his style. He’s more of a go-with-the-flow type of guy, even when dealing with challenges, such as actors dropping out from his projects. He doesn’t let anything to chance though; he firmly believes that it’s important to practice your skills and get out and do something, no matter how small the project is.
“I’d tell other film students to create as much as they can and build your portfolio,” says Mayuren. “Even if it’s done on a phone camera and not professional equipment, just do it, eventually it will be noticed. As for advice in general, stay positive, stay active and do what you like.”