Incessant Rain: Of Living Dreams and Creating Countless Opportunities
RAKSHYA SILWAL, Daayitwa-Incessant Rain Fellow 2022
Do you remember watching Kung Fu Panda? A lovable out of place panda, son to a duck, goes on a rather unexpected journey to find his place in the world. Nostalgic yet?
A good movie stays with you, even after you are done watching it. What you saw on the screen is what you remember. However, what you see isn’t the only thing that is going on in the movie. All the work that goes behind the scenes is an important part of making the story more compelling. As a layperson, I was unaware of the things that go into production and post-production like special effects and use of VFX, a virtual element that ironically adds to the realness of the story. And I had always wondered how animation movies were made in today’s age and technology. I remember watching Kung Fu Panda and having been wonderstruck. The message is simple: finding yourself and being that self is enough. While the message was close to heart, the movie with its amazing animation and layers of drama and comedy seemed things of faraway reality, that I thought was mostly possible only in Hollywood or Bollywood. That was until, I had the opportunity to visit the Incessant Rain Studio in Nepal…
As the Incessant Rain Daayitwa Public Policy Fellow, I was very excited to visit the Incessant Rain offices in Kathmandu. It was raining heavily, the morning of the visit. It felt almost poetic, as a raincoat clad me was making a trip through the busy streets of Kathmandu in the incessant rain to the Incessant Rain office. Right as our team of present Daayitwa public policy fellows and Daayitwa representatives entered the building, we were greeted by these huge posters of very well-known and beloved characters like the birds of the angry birds franchise. This welcome at the door was a glimpse of all that we were about to learn.
Then we met with Ms. Srijana Shrestha. She was the public relations officer of Incessant Rain Studios (IRS). Then we were introduced to Mr. Kiran Bhakta Joshi, the founder and creative head of IRS, the Disney man himself. We were joined by Ms. Deepa Chiplau Joshi, the co-CEO of IRS, via zoom. After general introduction, we were introduced to the work of IRS and its vision.
We came to learn that IRS mainly works in three sectors, namely, animation, VFX and video production. VFX (visual effects) is used in filmmaking and video production to create a more realistic imagery. IRS has not only done VFX on some amazing projects, like Watchmen, Da Vinci’s Demons, Divergent and Mr. Robot to name a few, but it has even received prestigious awards like Leo Awards for best visual effects in a dramatic series for its work on A Series of Unfortunate Events. Similarly, IRS also works on animation. Another interesting facet to this was, Hollywood is known for its dreaminess and seems like a place faraway dream to us Nepalis, but to know that people from Nepal have been working and taking strides in such a platform is a feeling of pride. Additionally, IRS also works in production of videos and has produced documentaries such as Moving Mountains, depicting the 1934 earthquake of Nepal, using VFX. Producing documentaries and films that can compete in the global market and telling Nepali stories to a global audience, is another important work being done by IRS. When we were shown some glimpses of their present works, I got goosebumps watching Nepali characters and representation of Nepali houses and a Nepali village in a story that was being made for international viewership. I was amazed to learn that they have worked on the Kung Fu Panda theme park attractions too.
Of living dreams and creating opportunities:
After watching their work on the screen, we were taken around the office to see where the magic of VFX and animation happened. We were in awe to see many people hunched over their computer screens working with the utmost focus on minute details on the screen. While the world has taken great strides in terms of technology, Nepal as a developing country is still far behind in terms of accessibility. But there at IRS, we were seeing an obstacle of access being overcome. IRS has created an entry point for young Nepali artists and talents to live the dream of reaching a global audience. Furthermore, it has announced the creation of Incessant Rain Academy which will train and produce more artists and provide a wide array of youth with a career path in VFX, animation and production.
We felt proud to hear that a company based in Nepal was doing a remarkable job in the field of VFX, animation and video production. We came to learn that IRS is not only taking strides in the virtual world of film and videos but is also working on real world issues of promoting gender justice. IRS does not only talk the talk but has walked the walk by working to encourage women to be VFX and animation artists. As a student of gender and women studies, it was very impressive to see that a company like IRS which has powerful tools of visual representation was taking an action for gender justice in its work and narratives. It is also a company that is led by a woman as a co-CEO. Women’s visibility and presence, in spaces that are traditionally more accessible to men, is an important step in changing narratives to make those spaces more inclusive and open more doors for all other minority groups as well.
Another highlight of the day was meeting the creative head of IRS, the visionary, Mr. Kiran Bhakta Joshi. He quit his job at Disney in 2007 and started Incessant Rain Studios. As a Daayitwa fellow working on the research that seeks to promote youth employment, it was very inspiring to see IRS create numerous jobs for Nepali youth from its inception and setting an entry point to a growing field of VFX and animation which allows remote work but has a direct access to a global industry of filmmaking. On top of that, IRS is also working to promote Nepal as a movie making destination. Nepal with its scenic beauty and rich cultural history has attracted international filmmakers in the past. But establishing Nepal as a complete filmmaking destination could create even more opportunities in terms of jobs and give Nepali artists and youth access to the global market.
One of the best parts of being a Daayitwa fellow is having the opportunity to broaden our horizons and meet extraordinary people and learn new things from them. I am truly grateful to Daayitwa and Incessant Rain Studios for providing me with this opportunity to learn and grow. This experience of visiting Incessant Rain Studio has been especially inspiring to see that Nepal is a place with a huge growth potential. We as the people must come together to create a conducive space where young people are able to tap into that potential and take our country to greater heights.