Posted 11 January 2024
Interview by Nicole Fan
Mention Soham Kundu

For filmmaker Soham Kundu, cinema is a powerful tool for South Asian representation

It was from a small town in India that Soham Kundu not only discovered the world of cinema, but also fell in love with it. Tracing his love for film back to those early years, Soham remembers going to the cinema every week with his mother and developing a love for the arts in school. It’s no wonder, then, that family, friendship and heritage feature prominently in his works. Now a filmmaker in London, Soham has screened his shorts at cinemas and theatres, and received accolades such as the Prix Interculturel Award – but it’s heritage and identity that remain central to his auto-ethnographic work. Here, he shares about depicting South Asian stories, the power of collaboration, and the importance of finding your “why”.

Soham Kundu

Soham Kundu

Job Title




Selected Clients

The Line, Arts Matters, Royal Horticultural Society, University of the Arts London, National Portrait Gallery, The Microfibre Consortium

Previous Employment

Moving Image Specialist Technician, London College of Fashion, 2023

Place of Study

MA Film, University of the Arts London, 2020–2022


Social Media


What I do

How would you describe what you do?
I make movies – and I enjoy making them. Currently, I am working within the short narrative space, writing and directing short films while also developing and working towards longer formats.

I freelance as a director and editor for brands and organisations too, working on different commissions, music videos and community-led projects. I also take photographs and design things sometimes, and collaboration and community are at the heart of all my creative endeavours.

What are the main influences and inspirations behind your work?
Inspiration comes from various sources and evolves with every phase of life. To be a better storyteller, I try to stay open and flexible to new thoughts, ways and experiences. Outside of books, movies, music and art, life experiences have become really important for my creative work, especially if experienced in a pair, a group or as a community.

For example, I worked on a short called Farewell last year as I wanted to sincerely explore and depict a certain kind of South Asian experience: the tenderness of male friendships between people of colour. I focused on that as I felt that their experiences of vulnerability and intimacy were not often represented in cinema.

Although I had a certain idea of how I wanted this short film to be, I didn't want it to be derivative of any other work. So even though part of the pre-production process was just revisiting movies that had impacted me over and over again – like Melancholia, Decision to Leave, My Own Private Idaho, Paris Texas, Shame and Mathias and Maxine – I was trying to understand why they had impacted me in the first place as I was rewatching them. Not having the pressure to understand the movies technically allowed me to just absorb the essence of each one, which passively fed into the process of creating Farewell.

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Poster for ‘Farewell’ painted by Soham’s long time collaborator, Maahi

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Stills from the short film ‘Farewell’, which explores modern masculinity within men of colour

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Would you say you need any specific training for what you do?
It totally depends on where you are in life. Once you know what kind of films you want to make or why you want to tell certain stories, then formal training can accelerate that process. But a burning passion and persistence can go a long, long way.

For me, I knew I wanted to do something within the movie industry from a very young age. This led me to pursue a BA in Communication Studies in Manipal, India, where I learnt about visual communication, journalism, television, film and advertising - all in broad strokes. In Manipal, I also found an incredible peer group who came from a multitude of backgrounds and lived experiences that were different from mine. We all challenged each other’s perspectives, and I was exposed to a wealth of knowledge in world cinema, theatre, paintings and literature. That is where I realised that I could write, direct and edit my own movies, which led me to pursue a formal training in film from University of the Arts London later.

“A burning passion and persistence can go a long, long way.”

What’s been your favourite project to work on from the past year, and why?
The most nourishing project to have worked on recently is definitely Farewell, which has been in development for about a year and a half – in fact, we just completed its post-production this month.

Before embarking on it, I had been quite frustrated about not being able to make new narrative work. I did a couple of short-form projects in between, which is where I met my collaborators for Farewell, and I saved up while doing other freelance jobs in the summer. I really wanted to do something meaningful with those savings, and my collaborator and I funded the entire film independently on a very low budget. We got to work with a wonderful bunch of filmmakers who really cared about making films and they brought our ideas to fruition.

The production team of ‘Farewell’
Behind the scenes with the first assistant director and cast of ‘Farewell’

The film originated from a desire to explore all these beautiful themes that had to do with the South Asian experience, but it really led me to find a community of filmmakers and gave me the opportunity to develop my directorial voice. We found immense support from organisations like The Kusp, Cameraworks and Ministry of Defense – they gave us access to gear, locations, and more to bring Farewell to life, which was extremely special for me.

Apart from that, I directed two music videos for artist friends whose work I absolutely admire. One is ‘Isola’ for The Shivers and the other is ‘Slick Writtens’ for Arshaq Malik.

I’d also love to hear about a past project you’d worked on: the film collective called ARTH. Could you tell us why and how it began?
After I completed my BA in 2017, I was frankly quite lost as it was devastating to leave Manipal and my friends. Manipal is a very tiny town, isolated from the burden of city life and grounded within a sense of community. Having lived that life for a while, I was in shock when I moved to one of the metropolitan cities in India for my first job two months after graduating. Even though it was great to work as a photographer and graphic designer, I struggled with city life and felt like I hit a wall after working there for a bit. All the juvenile and innocent ideas I had about making art and shaping my life through it just came crumbling down, so I eventually left.

After that, I got a freelance gig through a colleague to cover a racing event in a remote Indian town. We both realised we could do this ‘freelancing thing’ on our own terms, and that it gave us time to ourselves where we could make our own stuff. So, along with another friend, we later decided to form a film collective called ARTH.

We would get called for filming or editing work by people in our extended networks, who were all working in different companies in Bangalore. Soon, we started working on really low budget commercials, event films, corporate films for a roster of brands – like Groww, Walmart Labs, Skore Condoms and Echoes of Earth, among others – while trying to develop our own aesthetic and visual language through these projects. Alongside doing this, we were also travelling around India to film short documentaries and artist films, where we further collaborated with many multidisciplinary creatives. I am extremely grateful for this phase in my life as it really deepened my understanding and desire for filmmaking.

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Stills from the music video of Isola, directed for the New-York based band The Shivers

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How I got here

What was your journey like when you were first starting out?
I think my love for film started way back when my mother, who had been doing decently as an actor in her early 20’s, had to give up on her acting career due to familial pressure but still took me and my sister to the cinemas every week. That is where it all began.

Different filmmakers have different routes into the industry and it really depends on the circumstances of each person. For me, I lived and worked both in India and the UK, but only began understanding the value of networks after graduating from UAL. I haven’t done a lot of jobs on film sets, but I am taking another route of doing multiple other things – including editing, filming and teaching – while writing and attending programmes to develop my future projects, build my body of work in shorts and become better at storytelling.

I think it's hard to enter film as a career; it's like a slow burn as things take time. But somewhere between all of that, it’s fulfilling and enriching as you meet like-minded people along the way who care about this profession and it all becomes about the journey.

“It’s hard to enter film as a career as things take time, but it all becomes about the journey.”

How did you go about landing your first clients and commissions?
During my studies at London College of Communication, I got accepted into the LCC Mentoring Program, where my mentor was the lead producer at Grey Moth. She provided invaluable guidance that helped me navigate my graduation film, Love Death and Everything In Between. Later, I went on to do a lot of freelance work for Grey Moth, where I was editing for clients including Ivors Academy, Chanel and University of the Arts London – and most recently they hired me as an editor for Royal Horticultural Society’s Flower Shows. Grey Moth also introduced me to future clients like Art Matters and City of London, for whom I have shot and edited a bunch of social content.

Also, UAL has a subsidiary called Arts Temps which employs UAL students and recent graduates. I was and still am doing a lot of jobs via Arts Temps: they too got me on projects for The Line, National Portrait Gallery and WRAP, and these projects led to meeting new clients and working on other projects.

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Soham’s UAL graduation film, ‘Love Death and Everything In Between’, is about a grieving duo coming to terms with their son’s demise

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Stills from ‘Love Death and Everything In Between’

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What would you say has been your biggest challenge along the way?
It was the peak of COVID when I had moved to the UK and it was challenging to get through that period of inactivity and uncertainty. I also found it difficult to get work at the start, but as I kept working on my own projects and building my networks, things began to shape up.

Another challenge for me has been to secure institutional funding for my creative projects. At the same time, I do not want funding criteria to dictate the stories I want to tell. This system is quite complex and I am slowly learning to navigate it.

What are three things that you’ve found useful to your work or career, and why?
Subscribing to newsletters has been a top one. If I find a website resourceful, I definitely subscribe to their newsletter, which allows me to engage with any listing or opportunity they have in their weekly emails.

I’ve found many creative collaborators and people who are on the same path as me through being part of communities too. The Kusp has been really great: I found a lot of support in making Farewell through the community and I am currently cooking up future projects with some of the members. Shooting People has also been really supportive of my work. I’ve also become a member of BAFTA Connect and Directors UK this year, and I’m hoping to engage more with the communities there. It just feels nice to be part of something and even better when it’s with like-minded people.

I’ll add that the Directors Take podcast is an incredible resource for any writers or directors in the UK, as they really delve into the nitty-gritty of a filmmakers’ journey. The book Notes on the Cinematographer by Robert Bresson is a really thought-provoking read as well.

Poster for ‘AALO the Light’, a short film directed by Soham
Stills from ‘AALO the Light’

How important would you say social media and self-promotion are to your work?
Over the years, I’ve learnt the philosophy of ‘less is more’. Curating my feed and limiting it to my top creative works that I want people to see has helped me find collaborators – and sometimes even work. I’m very aware of not being sucked into doom-scrolling on social media, and I only use Instagram and LinkedIn. I also try not to open any social media platforms after 9pm unless I have to respond to something urgent; this allows me to just watch a movie or read a book.

What have been your greatest learnings with making money and supporting yourself as a creative?
I've been quite lucky to have received generous amounts of scholarships from UAL and the J.N. Tata Endowment for my education and living expenses, although I also worked while attending uni to cover additional expenses. For many of us who do not come from a place of privilege, it's a struggle to make art and, at the same time, make money to pay our bills. This is a battle that pins a lot of us down.

I know things take time in the creative field, which is why I’ve had to do a lot of other things that are only remotely related to filmmaking. But doing these jobs to support myself has also provided me with life experience, which feeds into my storytelling. For example, I wrote a speculative TV pilot called TEMP based loosely on my experience of working within universities, which made it to the top 10% of scripts on the BBC Writers Room Open Call 2023.

“Doing other jobs to support myself has provided me with life experience, which feeds into my storytelling.”

Have there been any courses, programmes, initiatives or access schemes you would recommend to get into your sector?
Munich Film Up (MFU) – a nine-month mentoring and residential lab for film students and fresh graduates – was a great learning experience. It commenced in Munich during Filmschoolfest, where my graduation film was selected to be screened and even won an award. The festival experience was one of a kind, as young filmmakers from all around the world attended and the organisers had a really warm presence. I made so many friends and colleagues who I don’t think I would have met otherwise.

A Q&A after the screening of ‘Love Death and Everything In Between’ at Filmschoolfest Munich in November 2022
Soham with organisers and participants from Munich Film Up

Coming back to the residency, I was able to develop my first feature film project with an intimate peer group of six filmmakers and attended a fully-funded residency in Paris for three weeks, where I was hosted by Matthieu Darras and mentored by Philippe Barriere. I think it takes a lot of thought to carefully organise these programs and pair a participant with a right mentor, and MFU did it super well. Both of my mentors not only taught me about storytelling and developing my ideas, but also opened up a whole new world about European co-productions which I hadn’t been familiar with. I was quite lucky to have that experience just out of uni in 2022.

Apart from that, Screen Skills offers extremely great training programs and bursaries. They previously supported me to attend a two-week TV pilot writing course at National Film and Television School (NFTS), and in the coming month I will be attending another programme funded by them.

My advice

What’s the best career-related advice you’ve ever received?
My tutor at UAL once told me, “So what if someone is an artist? They don’t have to scream it at the top of their voice – we’re just doing our job, as someone who is doing their job at a grocery store or at an accountancy firm would”.

I don’t know why, but thinking about that conversation always keeps me grounded and reminds me that, as artists, we want to reflect a part of the human experience through our works – so there’s no space for ego. I also read somewhere, “don’t let a bad day turn into a bad life”, and that stuck with me.

“As artists, we want to reflect a part of the human experience through our works – so there’s no space for ego.”

What advice would you give someone looking to get into a similar role?
Cinema is a really powerful tool, and the thing about this medium is that the possibilities are endless – you can have so many new discoveries and breakthroughs in terms of form.

I think I would just tell people to use it wisely. With everything that’s going on in the world today, we have to be thoughtful about what stories we want to tell and who we want to represent through our works, and having a strong ‘why’ is a good starting point.

Interview by Nicole Fan
Mention Soham Kundu