Everybody wants to be in the movie business but getting into the industry is like getting picked to be on a major league sports team: almost impossible. Janhavi Naik the art director, set designer and production designer from Mumbai, India, got in and we decided to find out her secret. When we talked with her we discovered that there was no trick or secret or magic formula she used in becoming one of the in-demand production designers, set designers and art directors in Hollywood. Much of what she did took the form of traditional hard work, persistence and a strong desire to achieve her goal of being a production designer for movies, TV shows, commercials and music videos.
Janhavi’s hard work began in India where she studied and earned her degree in architecture, which is a distant cousin of production and set design. As she worked in Mumbai on building projects she ultimately realized that her calling and her vocation was in design not architecture. So, she moved to Los Angeles, California, went back to school and earned her Masters degree in Applied Arts, which covered all the subjects necessary to pursue a career in motion picture art department, in which production designers, set designers, at directors, graphic artists and scenic artists work. The school she went to was the famed California Institute of the Arts (Cal Arts) and just getting into the school was a huge achievement in itself.
She began to work on numerous short films, TV shows and music videos before she graduated and she got her foot in the door simply by learning her trade and then taking on any project that she could just to gain experience and lengthen her rapidly growing resumé. She learned how to do things that were never taught in school on the job and by working with other designers and filmmakers. She came to understand and apply the super efficient and highly economical concepts “Within budget” and “On schedule” which are two extremely important phrases treasured by film producers and directors, well, mostly by film producers.
Janhavi saw the real practical value in working hard, that is 12 hours a day for several weeks at a time. And she found that she was indeed up to any challenge that others might have seen only as obstacles. She prides herself to being fully committed to a project from scratch until it reaches the final level of completion and she leaves nothing undone. Now we see how someone can make it into the movie industry with traditional hard work, persistence and a strong desire to achieve her goal.