From Small Town Dreams to Hollywood Success with Hunger, Junayed Alavi breaks down what filmmakers need to know to break into the industry.
This post was written by Junayed Alavi.
Junayed Alavi, an Independent Filmmaker, Screenwriter, and Content Creator from West Bengal, India, has been making waves in Hollywood with his new short film Hunger. Previously, he has written, directed, and produced many independent short films. He is also a podcast host of Bengal’s only live Hollywood podcast show called Late Night Show with Alavi, where Hollywood A-listers join and share their journey to inspire the next generation of artists.
Alavi’s journey to Hollywood was not an easy one. Growing up in an Indian lower-middle-class family, Alavi dreamt of becoming a filmmaker after watching Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic Park, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Back to the Future, and Star Wars. Despite facing mockery from his friends and family for his Hollywood dream, Alavi started making short films at the age of 13, taking inspiration from Steven Spielberg.
The biggest challenge Alavi faced was ignoring the negativity around him. Despite facing mockery from his classmates and teachers, Alavi stayed focused on his dream, knowing that his success would inspire thousands of small-town kids to follow their dreams, no matter how big they are.
Alavi’s burning desire and his ability to convince people to make him stand out in the industry. He took a unique path to get into the industry by working for a literary agency to make contacts before leaving the agency to work in collaboration with them.
Alavi met Peter Cameron, the writer and one of the producers of Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight and Werewolf By Night on a podcast episode. They were in touch since 2021. Peter liked one of his short films. Eventually, Junayed planned a short film after watching Marvel Studios’ Werewolf by Night, directed by Michael Giacchino and co-written by Peter.
After watching some glimpses of Alavi’s short film Hunger, Peter wished to executive produce it.
Hunger is a very personal film as Alavi didn’t want to make a monster short film just for the sake of making it. It has so many socio-political layers and it deals with his country’s dark past. The story is based in Bengal, in 1776 (during the Bengal famine).
Alavi shared a few tips about how he went about making Hunger and catching the attention of a Marvel Studios producer:
Don’t wait for permission. Make your own: If you’ve written a script, don’t ask others to direct it. Direct it yourself. Don’t just submit your scripts blindly to Studios, producers, and directors. Don’t play the lottery. People think someday someone will give them a big role instead of working on their crafts. How do you learn filmmaking? By making one. How do you learn acting? By practicing. Start small but do it yourself. It took me eight long years to get the right attention.
Have the courage to experiment. Don’t be repetitive: Doing the same thing again and again just to gather attention won’t make you grow as an artist. Leave your comfort zone and work hard. I get bored when I try to repeat the same success. It’s a clear indication that you’re stuck. Different failures can teach you so many things. The same success will make you arrogant, superstitious, and fool.
If you truly believe in your vision, then stick to it: Don’t get influenced by scary whispers. People will try to pull your legs to make you suffer. Avoid them. But stay always open to constructive criticism.
Distance yourself from the pseudo-intellectuals: They know everything but do nothing instead of chattering. They are the most dangerous creatures I have ever come across.
Just having talent is not enough: A good network always helps. Be friendly. I never went to film school but I see many film students are trying hard to get the right contact. I haven’t even gone to Hollywood once, but I have so many friends over there who are dominating the film industry such as people from Disney, Marvel Studios, Variety, and many more. So, think big and do big.
His horror short film Hunger has been selected for the First Cut Youth film festival, Ireland 2023, and Lift-Off Global Network Festival 2023. Hunger is a monster horror short film written and directed by Junayed Alavi, starring Kalyan Goswami, Subinoy Ganguly, Sayanta Dhar, and Bulbul Ahmed.
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