AAJ MEDIA PRODUCTIONS
A childhood ardor that turned into a successful venture
The communication world has witnessed a mega boom all over the globe that asserted the need for film and corporate videos to increase the reach among the targeted audience. For businesses, a short corporate video bite could do wonders for their respective audience by drawing attention.
Similarly, as the demand for video content is increasing daily, Media production houses are being established here and there. But how to identify the genuinely dedicated ones in the pool of these proliferating production houses? We would like to introduce a new-age media production company – AAJ Media Productions.
The company is grabbing eyeballs across its targeted market owing to its unique business philosophy and undeniably creating an impact on its audience. Mr. Anannya Sengupta, aka Jijo Sengupta, is the Co-Founder and Director of the company. He enlightened us on the overall business portfolio and provided valuable, informative wisdom that helped us create this narrative. Dive into this exclusive read based on the excerpts of his conversation with us.
Q: 01 COULD YOU PLEASE SHED SOME LIGHT ON YOUR VENTURE’S INCEPTION STORY, COMPANY PROFILE, AND SERVICES?
Well, there’s a whole story about how AAJ Media Productions started. Taking you back to my childhood days, I was always fascinated by films and it was something that inspired me. I grew up watching cartoons and always looked forward to more. During those years, I strongly realised the sense and presence of a story in every single thing and every single element.
Being a child, we watched cartoons and not proper films. Eventually, when you grow up, you understand, you see the world, and you experience it and that makes you understand the Power of Storytelling. I loved the idea of Storytelling and that moved me a lot. I was fortunate enough and blessed to get the opportunity of studying for my bachelor’s in New Media and Interactive Development and master’s in Films and Animation from Rochester Institute of Technology, New York, USA.
I wanted to contribute to the entertainment industry in my own country, and my home, the place where I was born, the place where I grew up. This gave birth to AAJ Media Productions. Born out of this power of storytelling and realising that we can contribute to the entertainment industry, AAJ Media had its humble beginning.
I aim to make a contribution to films, where I create a sense that makes people not just follow it for the sake of it, but actually, ponder on them. That’s the difference I want to make. I believe there are hidden treasures of stories and memories residing in every corner. That’s the whitespace that is institutionally not addressed. This is all about AAJ.
The services that we offer are in the form of entertainment through stories and cinema. Other than the entertainment industry, we also serve brands and individuals. We believe that every individual and brand has their own stories to tell, that’s where we craft their stories through our lens. We create a platform for small businesses to strive digitally. We have developed expertise in understanding our client’s vision and mission in telling their stories.
As filmmakers, we not only capture their narratives through the camera but we also capture the emotional aspects of their story. We merge the nuances of Hollywood and Bollywood by mixing the rigour and grammar of classical filmmaking along with the emotions and glitters of Bollywood. We named this stylistic approach the “Holly – Bolly Way”. This enables us to provide an enriching experience in presenting our stylistically distinctive stories.
02: PLEASE ENLIGHTEN US ON HOW YOU BUILT YOUR ENERGETIC TEAM.
I have always focused on the values that are cardinal for high-impact team building at AAJ. Firstly, the type of people that I picked for my team needed to be extremely skilful in their roles. Secondly, the most important thing that matters to me is the type of human beings they are because one can’t teach that. It is something that they already are but skills can be taught. I need people who vibe off with my energy, compliment it and when I feel tired they push me to achieve more.
For me, it’s not just me directing my team but it is about them directing each other including me at particular times. I am a human too and there are times when I have creative blocks, questions, and situations where I am not able to understand certain things. So, that is when I need my team to be able to give that energy if sometimes it is missing from my end. I am so proud of my team right now as they are super talented, caring, and at the same time they have the balance of energy and work.
One thing that I like to always say and it’s an integral part of AAJ culture is ‘Work Hard and Play Hard’. I need my people to play hard as well because when you play, relax and get to know a person truly for who they are, that’s when the work becomes ten times easier. Rather than me being their regular boss I need to be their friend first. No matter if there are protocols but for me being their friend first is crucial as they will hear me, and understand me and my vision in a better manner.
If they are not able to empathise with my vision and just listen to me then it becomes very mechanical. I want them to feel what I feel. I strongly believe that when my team feels that they are making a difference, they tend to be more energetic and invested in projects. I am so glad that my current team understands me and the vision of the company so well and we always try to keep ourselves productive, energetic and positive at all times.
03: HOW DID YOU ENSURE AND MANAGE TO STAY STRONG WITH YOUR TEAM DURING THE PANDEMIC TIMES?
Like other industries, the pandemic has deeply impacted the media and entertainment industry and we are no different. There were certain setbacks and despair but we never forgot the bigger and brighter picture. Our love for crafting and telling good and heartfelt stories has always been our driving force.
During that time, we were physically apart but always ensured that I stayed connected with my team members through Zoomenabled virtual meetings. We celebrated all occasions like birthdays, and festivals as well as organised seminars and competitions through the platform.
During the pandemic when larger companies were firing their workforce or cutting off their pay, we never let that thought encroach our minds. All our employees are our extended family members and we value and care for each one of them. We got so many opportunities to understand each other and did many team bonding sessions together. We learned new techniques to equip ourselves with upgraded information and skills during this time.
We channelised all our energies to start the pre-production of Ping Pong’d, our upcoming web series which will be launched real soon. It’s our very dear project and has motivated us to stay productive and sane during those hard times. We all are super excited about its launch. With my team’s endless efforts and positivity, we successfully delivered client projects during the pandemic too.
04: HOW DOES YOUR COMPANY KEEP PACE WITH THE MOST RECENT TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IN THE MARKET?
The main thing I would say is “Research, Research and more Research’ because technology never stays the same. It keeps upgrading, updating and keeps having new features so it’s up to us to be able to tackle it effectively. I am a very tech-savvy person and always try to bridge the gap between challenges and solutions through continuous learning. There are situations, where I can give an example, let’s take editing. Before, Adobe used to be a very popular tool for editing, now it’s more of Da Vinci Resolve. It’s all in-one software which has everything. Even that comes with periodic upgrades.
We do collaborative workflows together not just sharing files here and there but work simultaneously on the same working file through different computers. We do not have servers in the office but we can still work together on the same project file because we are updated with technology. We do research and read articles and we have people who continuously keep a tab on new technologies, advanced techniques and progressive approaches that are trending in the industry.
We use the latest world-class global tools, technological platforms, systems and software to create a super-efficient and seamless work ecosystem. Every technology that we use at our workplace such as Zoho, Workplace, Dropbox, Trello, etc helps keep our teams effective and productive. All these global and digital platforms were used by us during the pandemic to connect with our teams and build a cloud-based workspace. So, that’s how we rock and roll.
05: FOR WHAT TYPE OF CLIENT ARE YOU CREATING STORIES? HOW DID YOU GAIN THEIR TRUST THROUGHOUT THE JOURNEY?
We have a wide array of exciting and dynamic clients. We serve both nationally and internationally across all sectors including hospitality, IT, health, telecom, etc. We have catered to individual clients such as Executive Coaches to many CEOs to make their personalised profiles as impactful as their visions are.
We have story-crafting recipes for all. We crafted corporate videos for international clients for their annual marketing summit and it is most loved by their entire global teams. We have created so many brand films for our national clients as well.
We love our work and ensure that we give our best to create the most memorable storytelling experience for all our clients. Our skilled employees based in India, USA and Singapore create their magic to deliver the best to our customers. Each of our clients’ projects goes through rigorous processes of filmmaking stages which are pre-production, Production and Post-Production.
At all these stages, we make sure that we polish out their vision with great finesse and finish without compromising on quality at any stage. Nothing can make us happier than receiving positive and raving feedback from our customers and we live for that.
06. HOW DO YOU ENVISION TO GROW YOUR COMPANY ?
You will agree with me that success in business or anything new is indeed not a cakewalk. With the passion and commitment to your work, I believe the company can continue to reach new heights. The desire to turn one’s imagination into a reality is what drives us at AAJ. I truly believe that we are the Masters of our own Space and Time. Our dynamic approach is to treat stories as if they were music.
Shhh… That’s our mantra. Every story we create flows on the beats and rhythms of our imagination. We pour all the emotions that you all can connect with, through our secret weapon… Our Lenses. And I firmly believe that this will allow our audience to experience the flavours of storytelling in our style. I am fortunate to have a team that believes in my mantra because that is what will AAJ Media Productions to greater heights.
07. WHAT IS IT THAT YOU BELIEVE GIVES YOU AN EDGE OVER COMPETITORS AND DISTINGUISHES YOU FROM THEM?
I will say mainly it’s the process. We are a company that specialises in everything “Film”. There are studios that specialise in just animation, live-action and editing. I am very proud to say that we are one company that specialises in each and every aspect of the film that exists in this industry.
Be it 2D or 3D Animation, Stop Motion, Lighting, Compositing, Texturing, Rendering, Sound Designing and Recording, Cinematography, CGI Animation and VFX, we master all of these. Honestly, it is not even an edge but an entire plateau that we have, that stands us out from our competitors. We can literally do anything on film.
If you see, today, my team will shoot live action, the next day you may see them working on a VFX project, and the day after they would be working on rendering or lighting, so that’s how versatile my team is. The other thing that makes AAJ Media Productions unique and distinctive is the impactful approach that we follow.
We merge the nuances of Hollywood’s rigour and grammar of classical filmmaking along with the emotions and glitters of Bollywood. This enables us to provide an enriching experience in presenting our stories that are stylistically distinctive.
08. COULD YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THE KEY PERSONNEL IN YOUR COMPANY WHO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN ACHIEVING YOUR VISION?
Honestly, the entire team. They all have their individual contributions which add up to what AAJ is right now. For example, the founders offer an overarching blanket of vision, principles and supervision. We have the HR Department ensuring that everything at the workplace goes smoothly, starting from recruitment to employee engagement activities.
The Design Department makes sure that things that are put up for the world are looking aesthetically pleasing and stylistic. They are always following the latest trends in design principles and technicalities that we are using. The Business Development Department is very diligent in putting the word out there for us, promoting our services and giving more business. The Production team ensures to create good quality content for us and for our clients.
Even our housekeeping staff who keeps our workplace squeaky clean and hygienic because I believe that working in a clean environment makes one happy. When we come and work on our clean desks it really adds to our happiness. I really respect this fact and thank my office boy for that every day. Our security team always ensures that we stay safe and sound.
Our Admin Department keeps the workspace functional all the time. They keep track of office supplies and utilities. They always ensure the food is always there for us as we work late at night sometimes. So that’s how everyone adds up to create a super productive day at work. I would like to say that there is no key personnel, the personnel is the Key.
09. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR TEAM MOTIVATED? IS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC YOU DO TO MAINTAIN THEIR ENTHUSIASM?
Like I said earlier, the main thing for me is that before being a leader I want to be their friend. Friends stick together and care for each other. We go out together and talk about topics other than work. I don’t believe in Work-Life balance. Work affects life and life affects work. I believe that we spend one-third of our lives at work and another one-third sleeping.
If we take the sleeping part out then fifty percent or more of our lives are spent at work. This is a major chunk of your life so I feel that if you make that fun that’s what keeps people motivated. We celebrate every occasion together, whether it is a birthday, a festival, or an event. I feel that while partying or going out, other than good food, conversation on different projects is something that tickles the pickle of your brain which is important.
My employees are not just employees but my friends too. I know them personally and understand some of their personal problems as well so that creates a different bond. I am able to empathise with them and that helps in bringing new enthusiasm in my employees to work as we try hard to be on the same page together.
10. PLEASE SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE RECOGNITIONS AND ACCOLADES YOU’VE RECEIVED SO FAR.
I always believed in working hard, giving my best shot, and then living that up. I never focus on running behind success but instead always aspire to deliver my best. In that race, one thing I have learned is not to give up and keep following my passion. This really helped me in receiving recognition and awards nationally and globally.
It’s been a long way..still gives me goosebumps from getting recognised at Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival to see my short film poster of “I am Arbor” displayed in Times Square, New york.
Our company has received dozens of awards and nominations worldwide including Madrid International Film Festival 2018, Dada Saheb Phalke Film Festival 2018, London Independent Film Awards, Paris Lift-Off Film Festival, etc. Apart from films, our music videos – The One, Mastermind, and L.A.W. won many national and international awards post their worldwide release. ‘The One’ won L’age D’or International Arthouse Film Festival, World Film Carnival, Singapore, and several other awards.
L.A.W. won the award in both Best Music Video and Best Special Effects categories in New Age Cinemas & Scripts Screening Festival, Best Music Video award in 43rd monthly Cult Critic Movie Awards, and Best Visual Effects Award in New York. International Film Awards in 2021. While awards make us proud, the most fascinating thing is that we remain motivated and we remain fired-up with our vision. The recognition adds fuel to this fire.
11. WE ARE EAGER TO HEAR ABOUT THE COMPANY’S FUTURE PROJECTS. CAN YOU PLEASE SHARE WITH OUR READERS WHAT NEW THAT’S BREWING?
We’re brewing and nearly finished our first web series project. We’re just giving a few finishing touches to it. It’s a different kind of web series that will undoubtedly serve as a soothing menu on the platter. I believe my web series will be for the Indian market as we venture into the realm of animation. It is a sports drama that will inspire and motivate young people. Definitely paving the way for the creation of more exciting content for the youth. Besides this, we are also working on several short films that you will soon indulge in.
We are simultaneously working on a semi-feature film. In addition, more music videos will be added to our project list this year. We are also on the verge of launching a full-fledged online academy to teach people who want to be filmmakers, mainly focusing on topics like how to create and make films profitable through the grammar of filmmaking.
12. AS A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR, WHAT DO YOU ASPIRE TO ACCOMPLISH, AND WHAT ARE THE PEARLS OF WISDOM YOU HAVE FOR THE YOUNG MINDS AND READERS OF OUR MAGAZINE?
There are certain things that I aspire to accomplish. I would like to show people the story that they have never witnessed in their entire life. I aim to break the realm of reality, to break all taboos of society, to showcase that not everything is black and white, to show that every little thing in life is beautiful and to show that no human being is bad through my films.
Nobody is born bad, only their deeds are. What I mean here is that the villain is not always wrong. Sometimes I want to show my audience that I support the villain in a film. So I only want to show reality through my films.
I am only 29 years old, so I don’t have much wisdom to give but whatever I have I would say that I always live in the moment. Enjoy people close to you. Keep your circle small but real. Do the work that you love and love what you do. I understand that money is important but always try to find your love and passion in whatever you do. Even when you hate it, find something positive in it. And most importantly, never forget to make some time to embrace and enjoy little things in the journey. All the best to you all!
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