Interview with Melissa Balan

ME: What is Sanskriti?

Balan: Sanskriti is a feature length documentary film, titled from the ancient Sanskrit word for “culture”. Shot on four continents and five countries, the film will profile five members of what has come to be known as the Millennial Generation – the young men and women born roughly between 1980 and 2000.  It’s a completely independent film, with no major financial sponsors or film studios backing us – just a group of young recent film school graduates, undertaking a massive passion project and relying on help from our friends and family to get it done.


What is this documentary about?

The film is an exploration of the Millennial Generation/Generation Y and our relationship with technology. As Millennials, we’re caught in the middle. As we’ve grown and matured, so have modern technological tools, and we’ve been a part of the evolution from dial-up internet and clunky gadgets to today’s 4G Wifi and smartphones. Technology is ingrained in us – our relationship with it is said to “define” us as a generation. Sanskriti is going to try to understand what this really means, and what are the implications of this relationship. As a generation, we are more connected globally than any other generation, and to us, the world is a much smaller, much more accessible place than ever.

The way we share information, learn, build relationships, communicate, and discover the world, is with technology, and so, looking to the future, as we grow into the world leaders, where will this relationship take us?

Who are we as a generation, and what is our point of view?

The final film will be compilation of our five member’s stories, and thus, a portrait of a global generation, and a discovery of the human condition in the digital age.


What are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about finally meeting in person the 5 subjects that I have only known online for months. This film started as just a small idea one evening, and for the past six months, I’ve been working tirelessly to make it happen. The search for my 5 subjects was a long and challenging one, and I’ve so much enjoyed getting to know these amazing people from around the globe. I feel like I’m already friends with all of them, and the prospect of being able to visit their country and learn more about them is definitely hugely exciting.


What are you most freaked out?

I think I’m the most freaked out about the travel aspect of the production, which surprises me, because I’ve had such wanderlust since a young age, and consider myself a bit of a globetrotter. I’ve visited more than 10 countries on 3 continents in the past few years, and I love to travel and explore new cultures. But this is definitely the biggest project I’ve ever been involved in, and is much more than just a trip or a vacation. Our crew consists of four people including myself, and for about two and half months, we’ll be flying around the world, staying in cheap hostels, probably not getting enough sleep and definitely not enough personal space! The filming of a documentary will be a life-changing adventure for all of us, and while I’m so excited to embark on this journey, I am quite anxious about all of the unforeseen problems that I know will arise. But I have confidence in my crew and in myself, and so I trust that everything will work out fine in the end.


What one piece of advice do you give fellow twenty-somethings looking to go full bore after a dream?

The one piece of advice I can think of is to not be afraid to fail. This is something that I’ve been struggling with a lot on this project. It is such a huge endeavor that requires so much work, perseverance, passion, and I think a little bit of luck too. There have been many points in the last six months when I’ve been overwhelmed – how will I find people to participate? how will I find crew members? how am I going to finance this? At points I’ve been so afraid that despite all of my efforts, all of the pieces just won’t fall into place and everything will fall apart. When that happens, I force myself to remember that I can’t let fear of failure stop me from giving it everything I have.

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