All posts by Randall Head

Producer Shlok Shukla Brings his Tri-Cultural Perspective to the Screen

Producer Shlok Shukla

As the film industry continues to expand and globalize, the teams behind Hollywood’s massive productions must continue to diversify their perspectives and experiences. That’s why talent like screenwriter and producer Shlok Shukla, with his tri-cultural background, are key to the evolution of this multi-billion dollar industry. 

Shlok Shukla was born in Russia, a country more known for its literature, dance and classical music than its movies. However, Shukla’s parents were avid cinephiles, so from a young age, he developed a love for movies. 

“I always wanted to be in the film industry, for as long as I can remember,” Shukla reminisces. “Initially, I wanted to be an actor, but as time went on, I began to feel like I had stories to share with the world.”

Shukla’s story took an intriguing turn when, as a child, his family moved to India. Imagine having your whole life upturned, and being thrust into the heart of a land and culture so entirely different from your own! The young Shukla observed and absorbed India’s vast cultural riches, incredible sights and magnificent arts. 

Shukla’s time in India eventually came to an end, when his family relocated to the USA, bringing Shlok within reach of the proper education, connections, and setting to realize his dream of working in Hollywood. 

Now, years later, armed with experience, degrees, and a wealth of cultural experience, Shlok has thrust himself fully into the film industry. Two of his feature-length scripts, “All My Friends are Dead” and “Hangman,” have won multiple awards such as Best Script, Best Dialogue and Best Characters, among many others in festivals across the world, including the Rome Prisma Film Awards, Los Angeles Film Awards and Medusa Film Festival, among others.

In addition to telling his unique stories, Shukla has fallen in love with being a producer. “A producer’s tasks range far and wide, from finding projects and launching them, to budgeting, casting, post-production, and even release,” explains Shukla. “A producer’s job is never over, which makes it a lot of fun!”

Shukla began his production career while at the New York Film Academy, offering to assist his friends and classmates with their films. At first, he handled small tasks, such as location scouting and casting, but as he spent more time and effort learning the trade, he got involved in larger projects.

Recently, Shukla produced a music video for Los Angeles-based artist, Rocky Rose, titled “Let’s Ride.” Shukla was approached by the production team for this project and asked to come on board, and he jumped at the chance to help out. Shukla researched different artists and cinematographers to work with, and handled location scouting for the video, which takes place across various areas in L.A. Shukla also utilized his writing and storytelling skills to conceptualize scenes for the video that would hook the audience and keep them engaged.

“Working with Shlok means a project will be completed not only on time, but with the

highest quality possible,” remarked Elizabet Collins, co-producer of “Let’s Ride”. “If I could clone Shlok and work only with him, I would.”

Shukla’s experience working on this project made him a natural fit to work on another music video, this time for the Chilean rock band Temple Agents. Shukla’s company, I’m Not Famous Films, was hired by the band’s guitarist to create a music video in secret, titled “Young Soul,” as a surprise to Temple Agents’ frontman, Ale Solar. Solar’s father had recently passed away, and this project was meant to be a celebration of life, and a gift to Solar.

Cinematographer Joshua Fraser, Kevin Amaya and producer Shlok Shukla on set of “Young Soul” shot by Elizabeth Collins

Shukla wrote an initial script to capture the concept and vision for the video, then budgeted the video based on his script. After that, Shukla handled just about everything, from casting, scouting, and logistics to the video’s distribution and release.

“Shlok balances the creative and business mindsets in his empathetic approach to people,” said Julian Santiesteban, co-producer of the “Young Soul” music video. “He is honestly looking out for his crew and talent because he is really someone that goes beyond what is needed: he cares.”

Shlok Shukla’s unique view of the world is informed by his experiences; his childhood, spread across three wildly different cultures; his studies of business and screenwriting; and his experiences working in the film industry as he brings his stories to life. This unique vision, which only Shukla possesses,  is what distinguishes him among other producers and screenwriters in the film industry, and is a big part of what makes his projects special. If you see Shukla’s name in the credits, you’re in for a treat. He is also the producer behind the films “ALonely”, “Love is a Game” and “Flesh Fresh.”

The Ever-Expanding Lens of Chinese Photographer Jiayi Liang

Photographer Jiayi Liang with runway photographer Dan Lecca (left)

Standing ready to capture the magic of any moment, Chinese photographer Jiayi Liang is always looking for her next shot. With professional experience spanning years of brand campaigns, documentary filmmaking, and high-profile fashion photography, Liang has proven that no subject is outside of the scope of her photographic prowess—which she has been cultivating for a lifetime.

From a young age, Liang was encouraged to explore her natural proclivity for visual arts by her mother, who was herself a painter. Growing up in this artistic environment gave Liang freedom to creatively interpret the world through her own eyes. She soon became engrossed in motion pictures, and began her relationship with photography during high school. Since then, she’s never stopped shooting. 

Of course, there are many people who take up photography as a hobby or a means to capture memories. Liang, however, became obsessed with understanding the craft and its nuances; with mastering the interplay of light and shadow; and with capturing emotion to eternalize the moments she experienced.

“When you view a photograph, you can experience the feelings of that moment, even after many years,” Liang mused. “I think the meaning of photography is very important—it is a medium through which the moment becomes eternal.”

Since receiving her Master of Fine Arts Degree in Filmmaking and Cinematography from the New York Film Academy in 2014, Liang has professionally expressed her philosophical approach to photography across an impressive array of projects spanning multiple high-profile industries in New York City.

One of Liang’s more recent and prestigious career accomplishments was her coveted role as a photographer at the internationally-renowned and highly exclusive New York Fashion Week. Each year at New York Fashion Week, more than 250 of the industry’s top designers gather to present their latest collections with the world. Attendance to this high-profile event is by invitation only, and press credentials are given out on an extremely selective basis. Due to the merit of her work, however, Liang was one of the incredibly talented photographers chosen to shoot New York Fashion week.

“Being invited to photograph New York Fashion Week felt like a rare opportunity to document history,” reminisced Liang. “It was also a chance to glance into the future of the fashion industry by photographing the next quarter’s trends.”

From 2019 to 2020, Liang covered runway shows, backstage moments, presentations, private shoots, capturing the collections and styles of international fashion icons on behalf of VRAI Magazine, an American publishing house and digital fashion magazine with international readership. VRAI Magazine recruited Liang as their chosen photographer for both the New York Fashion Week and New York Bridal Fashion Week events during this period.

Jiayi Liang – Official Mori Lee Photographer at New York Bridal Fashion Week

In addition to her undeniable ability to convey the attitude and grace of high fashion through her photography, Liang also has a proven track record of helping big brands bring their vision to life. Suki Eyewear and Mott & Bayard Eyewear, two of the biggest eyewear brands in New York City, called upon Liang in 2018 to manage their photo shoots, promotional video shoots, and lookbook creation on an ongoing basis.

“Jiayi Liang often finds different perspectives and gives her images new meanings,” said Kenneth Ma, Owner of Suki Eyewear and Mott & Bayard. “Each time I finish working with her, I look forward to starting our next project together.”

Through her years at this position, which she currently holds, Liang has earned nothing but praise for her work, which includes seven campaigns for the Suki Eyewear and Mott & Bayard brands. By using her fresh and unique perspective behind the camera, Liang has been able to capture the very essence of these brands and portray them in a natural light, resulting in a win for Ma’s business.

“I’ve been using the images and footage Liang created everywhere for my stores, websites and social media,” mentioned Ma. “I saw a big impact for both of my brands after the photos and videos were released.”

Photo by Jiayi Liang

Liang doesn’t just lend her talents to big clients—she also believes in making an impact in the lives of young artists. Since 2018, Liang has been a photography instructor at the Rising Star Photography Society, a photography club for teenagers based in Princeton, New Jersey. Beyond just teaching technical skills, Liang aims to ignite a long-lasting creative spark in her students.

“It is very important to create the right environment for younger kids, because anything could unexpectedly influence them,” said Liang. “Teenagers have incredibly interesting thoughts and ideas, so I encourage them to practice and explore.”

As Liang continues to push her craft forward, both as an artist and a professional, the lens through which she interacts with photography expands to include new skills and perspectives. With an already inspiring portfolio and list of career accomplishments, Jiayi Liang is poised to capture the imaginations of not only her clients, but also her students and anyone fortunate enough to appreciate her body of work.