2009 Outstanding Young Alumna
Growing up, Smita Acharyya's grandmother would insist the whole family drop everything to watch the Saturday night Bollywood film that aired on Calgary TV. Later they explored all the Bengali films they could get their hands on in local video stores.
"I had to learn Bengali to speak to my grandmother and to understand the movies," explains Acharyya, SAIT's inaugural Outstanding Young Alumna Award recipient.
From Bollywood to Hollywood and everything in between, Acharyya's love of movies grew.
I looked at the SAIT course catalogue and saw that an instructor in the Cinema Television Stage and Radio (CTSR) program was a movie projectionist I knew from working at Famous Players." She took it as a sign and applied.
The film community has been tremendously important to Acharyya, and she's been as eager to give as she has to receive. Shortly after graduating from SAIT in 2000, she became a member of Women in Film and Television — Alberta, serving for five years on the board, including one term as President. She has mentored other up-and-coming filmmakers and engages SAIT students and alumni in her projects.
Smita Acharyya, writer, director, filmmaker and project manager with Telus Storyhive
"I've been making films since I graduated and have a company, Twinseltown Productions. I've moved to Vancouver and have been writing a few features. Surprisingly, I am writing a lot with my husband, which we never thought would happen. And to procrastinate from writing the features, I am still doing short films. I did one back in January that had an all-female production team.
I've been very blessed to work some great day jobs, too. I've been involved with the Vancouver International Film Festival for several years. Recently, I feel even more fortunate because I joined the team at Telus Storyhive as a project manager. It's a community-powered funding program for emerging content creators in B.C. and Alberta.
As for writing, I feel like I can't not do it. If I haven't written for a couple of days, I really feel it. I get antsy. The film industry attracts a certain kind of person. Everyone who does it does it for the love of film. When I was at SAIT, I heard that film had the highest dropout rate. As a naive 20-year-old, I thought that people just weren't trying enough. I've learned that you are going to have setbacks, but as you mature, you ask, 'Why do I do what I do?' I am writing only because I have to, not to make money or get awards."