Short films are all about a message, so my team and I came up with the idea to do a short film which incorporates a piece of our culture yet making a film for audiences around the globe with a strong message that identifies with each viewer individually.
“U & Me” was a recent finalist at the 2019 Global Lift off Film Festival, based at the Pinewood studios in UK and Raleigh studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. It is also the overall winner of the voting round and was nominated for the Best Short Film under the First Time Filmmaker category. It is also an official selection for 7 other film festivals around the globe.
The film has also won Best Film in the Drama category at the BeBop Channel Film Festival. The Bebop Channel has now bought the distribution rights to the film making it a wonderful commercial success.
As the lead actor, creative director and co-writer, I see the film has its strong message connecting the balance in work life, family and relationship.
The film revolves around a young girl, Sami, who has recently found out that she’s pregnant and wishes to share this news with her husband Goutham. Just like many immigrants in America, he is trapped with his career and struggling to maintain work-life balance. He ignores Sami until he finds out the news, realizes his mistake and decides to give his wife a special surprise. The film deals strongly with emotions, their intensity but ends on a happy note—A Happy Wife is a Happy Life.
Of course, we all can relate to the moments when we take family for granted or feel lost in our own lives and forget to check-in with the ones we love.
It took us weeks to decide the name “U&Me”, it’s funny because we wrote the script first and called it the ‘Perfect Match’ like a perfect couple but then we realized that the message this story carries is beyond the relationship, it’s about two individuals, you and me. Whatever their age, gender, relationship status, they can still feel lost in a part of their life. Also inspired from the portion of my life, hustling in NYC, working over 10 hours a day and struggling to find that work life balance, as a single person I wondered how it was like for couples, especially the ones who are having major transitions in their life.
My team and I talked to a number of people to develop the perspective. We called it “U & Me” because both partners are important, relevant and equal individuals who have chosen to make a life together. This film is shot entirely in New Jersey. We focused on maintaining the authenticity of this regular middle-class household and the nature around us in the wonderful garden state!
We shot the entire film within 24 hours, shot on a Saturday for 13 hours and then 2 weeks later another Saturday where we worked 11 hours. Since it was our film time, we had to sit back, check each shot in detail, decide scenes to reshoot and match the reshoots to the same time of the day for natural lighting, voice, acoustics etc. It was a lengthy process. I shot most of my scenes without makeup. I wanted to get under the skin of the character.
I crested bloating to feel something like the morning unwell feeling that a newly pregnant woman may have. To top it off, I had to dive deep into the emotions of being neglected by my significant other. But the real nightmare was the post- production. It took us about 2-3months for editing, lighting, sound, music, voice-overs etc. That’s where we were compelled to go out and network to find expert people to complete this project. Since most of our team has full- time jobs we used weekday evenings after work and weekends to put it all together as one product.
We have a few distribution deals on the table, but since the film is still competing at film festivals, we haven’t made any decisions on it yet. However, the film will definitely be available on Amazon Video.
I really wish the audience to connect with the multiple messages in this film — work life balance, keeping a healthy relationship with family, being more proactive towards you and your partner’s health, having strong communication with your loved ones and even recognizing and realizing one’s mistakes. All these contribute to a happy life.
And since I am a huge advocate for women—a special message to the ladies, you are never alone, talk to your friends and family, do not give up your life or change anything about yourself for your partner or the relationship. Embrace yourself, you are the creator of your own happiness! Hint, hint…yes, we have a prequel in progress for “U&Me!” Watch out!
The film was screened in New Jersey on 12th December 2019, and in New York on 14th February 2020 during a private event. It will also be available on Youtube in 2020. To watch, subscribe to Green Tea Makers. Follow @sameeksha.lav on Instagram for more updates.
Sameeksha Laveaux Katyal was born in India and raised globally. She has been involved as a writer, theatre director and actor in India and moved to the US in 2016 on a scholarship to study at Drexel University. Sameeksha is now a New York-based filmmaker, actor and writer. She has been actively involved with the Chelsea Repertory Lab at the Acting Studio where she trained in Meisner Technique and has been a part of numerous off Broadway theatre festivals.