‘Lights, Camera, Action’ are the three words we are all familiar with. Behind these three words there is a whole team of professionals, who are easily unseen. They act as an invisible force to help put together a film from start to end.
Aishwarya Subramanian, hailing from Delhi, is now an upcoming production designer associated with a handful of projects including short films, music videos and indie feature films in various roles. Aishwarya has completed her Master’s In Production Design from the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, Georgia, USA in the year 2022. Before that, she did her Bachelor’s In Design (Interior Design) from Manipal University, Manipal. She finished her high school at International School of Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Aishwarya is finding a place of her own in a largely male-dominated field. Apart from her unfailing passion for designing and art, she is equipped with the rich experience of having lived through various different cultures. However, she believes it is her upbringing in the Indian community that laid a strong foundation for her interest in art and cinema.
As a schoolgirl, Aishwarya Subramanian used to attend stage performances of her brother. She, however, was more interested in all the drama that happens behind the stage. The people and the processes that go into the making of a performance was all that mattered to her. She probably would not have heard the term ‘production design’ those days. But the inspiration from watching all that behind-the-stage bustle stayed within her and grew over the years, prompting her to pursue a career in art direction. Even as a beginner, Aishwarya has a clear-cut approach to designing a project in a manner that enriches and enhances the narrative. She does not look at sets as mere lifeless props, but as important as a character.
“Whenever I watch a film or TV series, I notice the backgrounds and the settings of the film. I have always felt that sets have the power to make the audience empathize more with the characters in the story. Whenever I am working on a new project, I read the script first and try to understand the characters and how they would react to and/or interact with their surroundings. Based on this, I put together a lookbook/moodboard to discuss my thoughts and ideas with the director and producers. Once we lock in on them, then we proceed with securing the necessities for the set design” says Aishwarya.
Some of the projects she was a part of as a Production Designer includes an upcoming horror film, ‘What Are You Afraid Of?’, telling a thrilling story of a weekend trip of 5 high schoolers. She was also part of another film named ‘Game Nite’ as a Production designer. She says these projects allowed her to learn methods of designing sets within a small budget and creative methods to repurpose different objects and spaces. As a set decorator in another upcoming thriller film ‘Get Back Girl’, she was able to collaborate with a team of professionals and see different aspects of set design.
Some of the other projects she was part of the production design team, includes ‘Adelina’, a short thriller story of a medical doll. This film has won accolades in international film festivals.
“Through all these projects, I was able to redesign sets both on-stage and on location, which has both challenged me as a designer and allowed me to identify my strengths. They have let me both be in a team and lead a team as a production designer” says Aishwarya.
When asked about her future endeavors, she says, “Currently I am working on a few projects including a web series as Production designer. I am thoroughly enjoying my path and also learning throughout from different professionals. I am just at the beginning of my career and still have a long journey ahead to establish myself in the industry, not just in the US but also in India.”