Nidhin Patel: An Emerging Television and Film Artist

 

Nidhin Patel is an emerging artist in the Television and Film industry who moved to Sunny California from across the globe to pursue his passion. Being well-rounded in all things media, he has gained much experience and is using what he’s learned to reach his ultimate goal as a director. Patel shares how pursuing a second Master’s degree in the United States is shaping the stepping-stones of his career. 

 

You’re originally from India, what made you decide to come here to California?

When I entered college in India, while I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree, I figured out that I wanted to pursue filmmaking and that I had to learn as a student because I didn’t have the basic skills.  I thought coming to the states would give me a global perspective.  I wanted to travel because I never travelled in my life… I wanted to travel and see the world, and have a larger perspective as an artist.  And what better country than America?  I always wanted to go on an adventure by myself as an artist.

 

In India, you studied at Gujarat University and pursued a bachelor’s degree in commerce.  Why did you decide to initially study Commerce?

Well, in India, we have three streams (of study).  When we go to higher, secondary school, which is 11th and 12th grade, we have to choose from one of the three streams which are arts, sciences, or commerce.  The school that I studied in only provided science and commerce, and I wanted to stay in my school, so I pursued commerce because I didn’t want to pursue science.  When I entered college for my bachelor’s degree, it was not my thing.  I was more of an art student and I wanted to pursue a creative career, so I switched to communications when I pursued my masters degree, which was a mix of journalism, public relations, marketing, and visual media.  So it was a mix of different genres about how we communicate.  That’s when I realized that I really wanted to pursue film. 

 

Why did you choose Cal State L.A., initially?

More than anything else, it was one of the universities that fit in my small budget.  Since I had a very small budget, the whole plan of coming here or not depended on my budget because I was doing it out of my savings. I was very clear that I wanted to go to California.  Los Angeles, specifically.  I had an instinct that I had to come to California and be in the city.  I didn’t know why I wanted to be in California, or why I had that instinct.

 

What’s your ultimate goal, career wise? 

Last year, being at Cal State L.A., pursuing this degree, I knew that I wanted to become a director.  That’s where my niche is.

 

But you’ve also had some experience in acting.  I heard you went to a festival and was nominated for your acting.  Can you tell me more about that?

That’s a funny story.  So, we’re supposed to create a project in one of our classes for our first year as M.F.A. students in a group.  We wrote a play, started directing it, and there was this role for a second lead which we were just not able to find.  What happened was that three of us were directing the show, and they had seen me acting in one of my class assignments, and they came to me saying that they were short on time, and needed to cast somebody.  I was apprehensive at first, but I went with it, and played the second lead and somehow, I got nominated for Best Actor in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival’s Acting Award in the regional level.  The production was also chosen as well and I was invited to be present at the festival.

 

Speaking of festivals, you were at Sundance last month! What was the main thing you took away from that experience?

The energy.  Being in that energy where people are so passionate about films… and being in L.A. is so cutthroat, but being in that community was awesome.  You could feel the love there.  Being a part of that community makes you feel so warm and it encourages you.  The work that I saw was intimidating, but also exhilarating.  It made me want to push myself and made me realize that that’s where I want to be. 

I see you as more of a multi-faceted individual who doesn’t just focus in one area.  Tell me about your journalism experience. 

It was something that happened immediately after I finished my first master’s degree in Communications.  As soon as I finished that degree, I got a call from a big newspaper in my city which is the leading English Daily in my nation, The Times of India.  I had done an internship with them while I was doing my Masters, and they called because they were opening a position.  I got selected for the second round of interviews, but since I knew I wanted to do films, I was skeptical about doing it or not.  Since the newspaper was a good company, and they wanted me to be an Entertainment Journalist, I figured it was a good way to start saving because I knew studying would not be easy without working first.  At the time, I knew it was a good way to gain experience and start earning money.  I  left the job eventually because it was really taxing, but I found a job later on in Communications as a creative writer in a communications agency. 

 

So you work for Cal State L.A.’s, University Times, as a  T.A.  What’s it like working at the UT?

Haha…well, I bash people…

 

People have called you intense.  Why are you so hard on your students?

Because it pushes them, and I hope that at the end of the whole quarter, they know that I really love them.  Teaching is one of my biggest passions.  It’s a profession that I love more than maybe most of the things in my lifetime.  I love teaching.  I’m really passionate about that job, and I really want to get the best out of them.  Journalism is a tough business, and I’ve been there.  I know the level of work that it demands, so pushing them hard or being really harsh on them has really worked.  And a lot of them have improved, which is really astonishing and satisfying as a teacher or T.A.; At the end of the quarter, they know that I love them. 

 

What’s you’re favorite part about working at the U.T.?

It’s the Monday Meetings! I get to meet students, and push them and make them do their best, and help them come up with better ideas.

 

Do you ever see yourself going back into journalism?

No, I don’t think so.  I left a piece of that behind.  I was always teaching part time, I’ve worked for all ages, and since teaching was part time, journalism was my full time job back then and where I started my career professionally.  Maybe as a freelancer, I would, but I don’t think I can ever take journalism full time.  It’s a difficult job, and I’d like to pursue film more. 

 

What’s a piece of advice you can give students who want to pursue a career in this industry?

If you’re asking me in general, if you have the creative instinct, just start acting upon it. I wished I knew from an early age that I pursued art, but if you find that you are interested in a creative career early on, just start acting on it as soon as you can.  It won’t be easy, it’s extremely difficult, but it’s fun.  At the end of the day, you enjoy what you’re doing, and you’ll go far.  Take chances, and be patient.