This week we have a lovely, super busy lady – you sure would have seen her work in TV commercials Preeti Machat ..

Introduce yourself for us please:

I am Preeti, executive producer at Stills Water films – an advertising production house doing television commercials. I did my Masters in communication, Central University, Hyderabad .I have been in this line of business for 20 years now, 10 years since starting Still Waters Films along with my husband Jerald Packiasamy.

What inspired you to start your own Production house.

It was a organic sort of transition from the fact that we learnt from the best in the business. Me and Jerald were both assisting Director Rajeev Menon for almost 6 years – we learnt production, we learnt direction.. it was a natural progression to start something on our own… after we got married we realised that time was right to do it.

Tell us more about this journey..

I got an opportunity to ask Ogilvy if I could intern with them. I got the opportunity, after three months they really liked my work and confirmed my position. I worked there for 2 years. The job satisfaction was lesser as my role was more managerial and I found it a tad constricting. The creative decisions were being taken by people making the films and I wanted to do that.

Ogilvy was working with the brand “Bru” and Bru was the title sponsor for the movie “Alaipayuthey “. I had met with Mani Ratnam and worked with him over the prose for the commercial. He offered me a job as an assistant director for the next movie he was doing. At the same time, Rajeev Menon who was directing this Bru ad also offered me a job as an assistant in advertising. It was a strange situation for me…Everybody was ” Are you crazy..” you would obviously pick Mani Ratnam . But I felt Ifit more better in Rajeev’s scheme of things only because I felt I needed a different experienceeveryday. But for the feature film I would be stuck with the same thing for over a year. I decided to choose the assistant director job under Rajeev. It was a good decision – I met Jerald there 😉 It was a great learning with Rajeev…We had Different experience everyday. It was Great fun but damn challenging. You were literally responsible of lakhs and lakhs rupees, any screw up -you will be pulled up…you then learn to be responsible, learn to be the leader… it was a great training experience for a 22 year old.

About Still Waters Films…

Starting Still Waters Films was a different ball game altogether. First couple of years it was just the both of us, no assistants…then we got to the point where we started paying salaries, taking care of overheads, investing in so many things… I hated Microsoft excel and was safeguarded from it in my previous job. But here it was bang on my face with no escape. It took three years for me to good grip over running this but then we had won Promo Lions – bronze at the Cannes Lions 2008… We kept going on… Life after kid… We were concentrating on our first baby for first two years – Still waters films… But then our biological clock called us and we had our bundle of joy – Mira. I completely took off work from my pregnancy days and was not involved in work until my kid was year and a half. I slowly started work then and it was literally a reboot – starting from the scratch.

Advice on how to juggle with a kid and running a production house

We had a nanny earlier and later my parents come over to help me.I am able to work only because of their support Advice.. mm..? Ask for help! If you really want to realise your dream you have to ask for help with the kids. There can be no ego there – parents or inlaws. Of course, I feel guilty everyday about hijacking my parents from their roots to take care of my kid. But then I am happy that they are near me …. with me being the only child.. I needed to take care of them too. When there is no support possible from family, consider investing in a nanny – part-time at least. I have seen a lot parents who have managed it well. And …You don’t have to get guilty. Mothers at home will feel guilty that they are not going out and working on something. Mothers working will feel guilty that they are not spending enough time with the kids. But end of day, you will be able to work things out. The child is also damn resilient and strong and they will work their way around. Just have faith and march ahead.

In Media industry – what are the areas that a woman can work from home.

Media industry is so flexible that anybody can work from home. I can work from home, i can remote control office from home. All is need is a laptop and a good internet connection. Which is why many choose a career without the whole 9 am to 5 pm rigmarole. Admin , accounts department is a 9-5 job. They cannot afford to walk in whenever they want to. But the guys in the production, creatives, direction department are all flexi work. But we work like 48 hours on a weekend when there is work. But there are other options as well where you only come out for a few specific days: Costume stylist: You don’t really need an office for this. A friend of mine Poornima, is a well known name in the industry.. she has styled for the likes of Jyothika, Nayantara etc and she works out of home. She is currently doing a project for us and she has been researching from home, sends references about slum dweller styles, we send feedback on them, she goes out to source clothes 2 days before shoot and is present on the couple of days of shoot. Art directors, Cinematographers, Make-up artists, Editors – Lot of girls are doing all these now.

What’s next for you..

Jerald directs, I produce…. its the only thing we know…after this, the idea is to get into feature films.. which is again a natural progression in what we are doing..

Parting words for SWEP ladies..

Considering you have a small kid and a limited window for working, have utmost focus in what you do. Even if its small 3 hours window, use it effectively. Being on social media on that time is totally meaningless. Focus and you can realize that anything can be done!

Reference :

Spini Inspire -Sulokshana

Spini Inspire – Sherry Rachel

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