A conversation with Neeraj Jain, cinematographer of The Sound of The Wind and producer at JDG Entertainment
Photography By Jared Douglas & Christian Gnecco Quintero
I think every project has to instill you with a sense of wonder - in all its shapes and forms
When did you first know that you wanted to be a cinematographer?
Neeraj: I think I was always fascinated with visual mediums since I was young. I remember one particular trip to Alaska where I just started experimenting with a small point and shoot camera. From there, as most young filmmakers do, I started doing everything in filmmaking. But it really wasn’t until I got to film school where others would approach me to bring my way of seeing to their projects and that’s where I really became a cinematographer.
Do you still feel that same sense of wonder that attracted you to filmmaking?
Neeraj: I think every project has to instill you with a sense of wonder - in all its shapes and forms - for it to be something worth diving into. A little bit of excitement, some nervousness, and plenty of questions. They’re all seedlings of a great project.
There are two things that excite me most - one is the chance to create a cinematic vision and the second being a chance to ground things in human nature
Your body of work is very diverse, ranging from high end fashion films to moody feature films. What is it that attracts you to a project?
Neeraj: Regardless of what I work on there are two things that excite me most - one is the chance to create a cinematic vision and the second being a chance to ground things in human nature. These two forces are sort of a juxtaposition that when done right can elevate a story beyond the mundane, but also allow a viewer to see a part of themselves in the story that’s unfolding in front of them. At the end of the day, filmmaking is a medium that can really evoke an emotion and if I can find that in a project, I get incredibly excited to start diving in.
I’ve found a great team of people to work with where we can push each other to do better and be better
When did you first team with JDG Entertainment?
Neeraj: I first worked with JDG Entertainment and Jared on a short film called “Disconnected”. We shot it over Thanksgiving weekend in 2014 on 16mm film in Manhattan. It had its challenges, especially since we had limited crew over that weekend, but I think it was a chance for Jared and myself to understand how each other worked and over the years we’ve really been able to develop a working relation that allows us to work quickly and efficiently.
How do you view your role as both a cinematographer and producer?
Neeraj: As a cinematographer and producer now, I feel like I’ve found a great team of people to work with where we can push each other to do better and be better. After having worked with Jared, Christian, and Hope, on a few projects now, we know each other’s working styles and are able to strive for the best possible product every time. Furthermore, as a producer it allows me to create opportunities for myself so that I can pursue my work as a cinematographer.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career to date?
Neeraj: I think when you choose to pursue a career in the arts, every single day is a challenge and obstacle. I think the biggest challenge so far has been trying to find ways to block out all the noise and stay steadfast in the long-term goals that I’ve set for myself.
How have you managed to stay resilient despite those challenges?
Neeraj: A lot of my strength and resilience comes from the people I surround myself with - my family, my friends, and my contemporaries. Their belief in me and the work I strive to create keeps pushing me to continue. Also, it took me a while to realize this, and I think in the age of social media it’s very easy to get caught up in a race of sorts and compare yourself to others. It’s only been recently that I’ve gotten better at blocking that out and focusing on myself and the work I’m doing.
JDG Entertainment is like a family and working together with incredibly talented artists to bring stories we all believe in to life is the most exciting thing anyone could ask for.
Lastly, what excites you about the future of JDG Entertainment?
Neeraj: Everything!! JDG Entertainment is like a family and working together with incredibly talented artists to bring stories we all believe in to life is the most exciting thing anyone could ask for. I think the future for JDG Entertainment is something we all believe in individually, which is opening up doors for new talent and voices where the rest of the industry may not be willing to do so.