POOJA SAMPATH, MONSTREPRENEUR
At an age when most kids are thinking of how to get through a day in school, Pooja Sampath, all of 14 years old, landed her first acting job. That was back in 2003 and it took that one experience for Pooja to fall head over heels in love – with filmmaking! Since then, she has worn several hats – that of a casting director, actor, executive producer, creative producer and director. Those around her started to call her the monstrepreneur! When it was time for Pooja to decide what career she wanted to pursue, it came as no surprise that she chose to set up a film production company and guess what? She called it Monstrepreneur!
Being one of the few women in this space, Pooja has many stories to share. One that stood out, was her experience on her most recent shoot. It was a travel documentary where they followed three elderly (70+ year olds) mountaineering women on a hike. They had to not only film them but get them to share their stories. Being unfamiliar with the shoot process made the first few days very difficult and it took several tries, many conversations and a good number of days to eventually break the ice and capture a fabulous two weeks in the mountains.
While she dons many hats, Pooja finds that being a casting director can sometimes very emotionally draining. Especially when she has to convey to an eager candidate that he or she was not selected for a role. Knowing how much effort each one puts in and how hopeful they are, Pooja takes time to explain that it is not always their performance in the audition that determines their selection but a whole host of factors that goes into casting the right person for the role.
Despite the tough shoots, the difficult conversations and unpredictability that comes with every project, Pooja loves what she does and it never feels like work to her. Her take on life is simple, yet profound, she says “When you listen, you learn more. Just because you are the most talkative person in the room doesn’t mean you are the smartest. Be an observer. It has taught me to tell my stories better.”