22-year old director and photographer India Sleem may have been born and raised in Manchester, but these days, she calls New York home. “I come from a family who always encouraged creativity through fashion, music, and art,” India explains of her education in visual art. “I was first introduced to photography at a young age, and would take photos of my Gran and her friends at their lunch club. I started being interested in filmmaking soon after that. I was obsessed with watching old music videos — Janet Jackson, M.I.A, Grace Jones. I loved the style and cinematography, but it didn’t hit me till later on in life that I could actually pursue it all as a career.”
After interning at Nowness last summer, an experience India describes as “a really distinct part of my career where I learnt about a lot of new directors, photographers, and artists,” the filmmaker has gone onto make a steady stream of crisp work which is already garnering the new graduate a steady following. “I think interning at Nowness gave me a big push to channel my vision and make good work,” India elaborates. “I loved every moment. It’s a really cool company, not to mention, they’re an amazing team of talented people.”
Recently, India had a film of her own premiered on the channel in the form of a music video for band Southern Shores. ”I got in touch with Southern Shores a few months ago,” she explains. “I liked their music and saw they had a new album and no music videos. I worked alongside their record label Cascine and they trusted my style and gave me a lot creative freedom.”
India’s Utah-shot video Palo Alto, follows two brothers laze away a summer day dressed in enviably matching wardrobes featuring throwback sports basics. “The idea was to capture the the essence of brotherhood and illustrate the feeling of friendship and dependency that is felt within that bond,” India says. “The narrative tells a loose story of two brothers exploring in hopes to cure their summer boredom. I wanted the visuals to express the sense of nostalgia felt from the song, and this narrative captured the portrayal of youth perfectly. I decided to style them in matching outfits to illustrate that brotherly bond, and to also tap into those childhood memories of being dressed to match your siblings.”
That same attention to detail defines the young filmmaker’s already-impressed portfolio. “I love the relationship of colour and composition and focus a lot on the art direction of my pieces; it’s an amazing feeling when you have a creative vision and see it executed,” India says. “I’m also really interested in documentary-style. There is a lot to be appreciated in capturing the diversity of different cultures. I’m part of a mixed race family so I’ve grown up in two separate cultures and it’s had a huge effect on my style and interests.”
Up next from India is a series called Round-Up Rodeo “about the behind-the-scenes of a local rodeo”, a photo series “about the Independence Day Parades here in the US” and a fashion film for a swimsuit brand.
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