NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?
Jaspaul Seehra: It’s a pretty surreal achievement considering how impactful and empowering the festival International Screenwriting Competition is for passionate filmmakers – the ones who may not have made a name of themselves yet or even ones that have such fantastic, and I mean beautifully crafted pieces of cinema/art that deserve the attention and limelight the creator hoped for. It is truly an honor to be a part of a festival that really does care for the artistic value of young filmmakers. Plus, I’m in Canada and this is New York… just so cool.
NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?
Jaspaul Seehra: The Short Screenplay I was fortunate enough to participate with, titled: So, You’re a Writer? OR (Meeting My Wife’s Boyfriend) is nothing short of a beautifully haunting yet gloriously hilarious satirical comedy of a pretentious writer fascinated and horrified by his wife’s supposed black boyfriend. The screenplay is just able to explore this idea of identity and labeling–which is quite predominant today, in such a fascinating manner that blends existentialism with cinema–filmmaking in a sense. The whole screenplay is told through a plethora of genres as it juggles the protagonist’s artistry but also mine in a sense; you begin to see this writer so engaged with his work, equally his paranoia, which lands him to begin writing about what could be happening. While the protagonist writes, you begin seeing the absurdism with the stereotypes tied toward black people and women but also just labels and titles humanity has deemed so powerful. It’s a hilarious short screenplay that really sticks with the reader and hopefully one day with an audience.
NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?
Jaspaul Seehra: I am an 18-year-old extremely passionate filmmaker from Canada, Toronto. I just love films so much especially the idea that one man or woman’s vision can be recognized and a group of folks who believe in it could come together and tell a story–one that could stay with the lives of others for years. I have been fortunate enough to create a couple of short films with absolutely no budget, financing, or name tied to them that have gone on to win many awards. Most of my short films could be found on youtube, however, some are still touring festivals. I have gone on to win multiple best director, best cinematographer, best screenplay, and best young filmmaker at tons of festivals– the last one, young filmmaker, I’ve gone on to see quite often. I can tell a story with nothing imagine what I could do with backing and help.
NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?
Jaspaul Seehra: That is an interesting question because I have written tons of unique and beautiful short screenplays that have gone on to be selected and won at festivals such as Poor Dear, Martin; about a group of students attempting to make a short film that all goes horribly wrong, Bad Day; a tragic story about a student fighting his superego and id deciding if he should commit mass murder at his school, and the rest of my scripts have remained grounded with hopes of one day being able to create them. I have also written all the scripts for the 5 short films I have created, Plague of Contentment, Mikey “Can Fight” Jackson, Taradiddle, A Mental Formation, and I Dreamed of a Better World.
NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?
Jaspaul Seehra: Although I have not been a part of many productions, regardless, this question will definitely hurt considering I have been fortunate enough to work with such talented and cool folk. Plague of Contentment, the first short film I ever created – with an iPhone actually, is definitely one of my favorites. Far from good or even acceptable in my eyes, the short film was a nightmare to make considering I had no prior filmmaking knowledge, the crew and production were very low as it was in the heart of quarantine and so many other problems yet it taught me so much about filmmaking and telling stories– HUGE emphasis on that. A Mental Formation, another short I filmed in 2021 was also awesome–the short film has gone on to win over 15 awards and was such a blast to film with fantastic friends but also very talented actors/actresses. Finally, I would say Taradiddle, another short film of mine filmed at the end of 2021– this had to be my biggest production with tons of folk on set all engaged and excited to create that whacky tale.
NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?
Jaspaul Seehra: I hope I can write stories I love, the type that resonates with me, the ones I continue to write every day of my life now– the fun and insane yet deep and methodical ones– exploring the human condition while also giving a compelling and fun time for folk. I also hope I can write superhero screenplays, more importantly, Superman. The character of Superman means so much to me as it is a guiding anchor in my life that has guided me through depressing and terrifying moments and has continued to uplift me. The character has become more than just a superhero with a cape and to be able to tell that story–the story that showed me hope so others can feel the same… there is nothing I want more in my life. Pivoting from Superman to other properties of DC Comics such as Wonder Woman, Batman, Sideways, it would mean everything and I do not say that lightly. Literally everything.
NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
Jaspaul Seehra: The most important aspect of building a character is understanding that character which in return will help you craft an identity that feels authentic. I know it sounds quite a cliche but really understanding the character you are writing, something as small as little ticks they have or a certain mannerism will no longer feel as if it’s a bunch of words on paper instead, feel like a real human, and if you could get it to feel human, the audience will feel it ten times more.
NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?
Jaspaul Seehra: Currently, I am working on getting into film school; I am finally taking that daring step in hopes of one day making it. Due to this, I am working on a new short film The Passing of Llewelyn which centers around tragedy and grief; really coming to terms with both. It’s a heartwarming story of a spirit that refuses to move on from his tragedy-stricken girlfriend that also refuses to move on herself. Additionally, I am finally embarking on the journey of writing a feature-length about a group of horrid and obscure folks that are stuck at a community home for the night and some strange things begin happening… I don’t want to say too much now as it is too early. Both projects I am looking very forward to, especially The Passing of Llewelyn, and entering film school to learn more and perfect my craft.
NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
Jaspaul Seehra: I used to play AAU basketball at quite a high level, however, it was something I never truly loved–especially because of my anxiety and other issues– all that being a completely different story. In fact, it would just be filmmaking and writing–that is how powerful this form of art is to me and my life, it is literally the one thing I cannot stop doing no matter how many times I manage to bump into a brick wall and fall.
NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?
Jaspaul Seehra: Firstly, to be asked this question is very humbling. To believe I am at a point, how ever low it may be, where this question could be asked is just so insane, thank you. The best advice I could give for a career in filmmaking/writing is no one is going to have the same story– I mean that with your art but also life. You can look at these famous and talented artists, Alejandro iñárritu, Sergio Leone, Bong Joon-ho, Aaron Sorkin, and see what they did to make it and you’ll realize it’s all different! Everyone’s path and journey in this career is so unique and catered to themselves–there is no roadmap or you get this degree and now you’re in Hollywood. All this concludes, you cannot give up, you just can’t. If you are passionate enough about cinema, you will make a difference in cinema, you just don’t know when. While you create stories, you are writing the greatest story there is the one that will give others hope…