Kiwi-Indian Storyteller Offers Virtual Production Expertise To Future Filmmakers

Friday, April 29, 2022 Mahesh Kumar

Virtual Production Dojo, the brainchild of Dunedin-based Jeasy Sehgal, offers an industry-relevant training programme in virtual film-making, covering scriptwriting, character development, 3-D film technology, editing, and more.

Virtual production works by blending virtual and real-time elements, which allows the director greater flexibility in storytelling.

Sehgal, an experienced visual production director, set up Graphic Monk Productions with the aim of developing it as a third-person RPG game.

The project morphed into a Talent Development Internship / Mentoring platform that materialised into Virtual Production Dojo. To date, the programme has trained scores of industry professionals from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, and the US.

Around that time, Sehgal created a short pilot film called Oyun’s Quest: Prologue, which showcased the possibilities of virtual production in the screen and games industries.

The idea for the film, which won the best animation at the Andromeda Film Festival, popped up in Sehgal’s head while he was waiting for an Uber. The storyline involves ancient warring clans and features Azmur, the protagonist. The film has a prehistoric setting.

“The idea behind setting up Virtual Production Dojo was to convert my success into success for every future Jeasy coming off the boat, or those born and raised here. Feeling like a misfit doesn’t mean you cannot succeed,” Sehgal says. “We tell them, hey, look, now you can tell your stories, no matter that you are an Indian, or a Syrian, a Maori or a European.”

Virtual Production Dojo has established the Ethnic Creatives Scholarship to empower more creatives to upskill in the emerging technologies modalities of Virtual Production.

Sehgal works out of his home studio in Dunedin.

He likes to stay nimble and dabbles in frontline films production technologies such as digital human motion capture, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. He believes that new creative visual technology has spill-over benefits for agriculture, healthcare as well as retail.

“I am proud of my Indian roots. We come from a colourful culture. That is what sparks my imagination and creativity, and now I am focused on mentoring and developing new talent through Virtual Production Dojo,” Sehgal says.

Sehgal’s creative journey started in Baroda, India, where he did a 3D animation course and studied art history. He spent some time in Australia before crossing the ditch in 2002. He studied post-production in Wellington before moving to digital film production.

As a new arrival in New Zealand, Sehgal faced many challenges, including racism. But he remained unfazed and steadfast.

“Something just clicked in me and told me that I must not give up. I’m a Punjabi and a Sikh, so I was never one to back down from a challenge. I was determined to succeed,” Sehgal recalls.

He wears many hats. He is a collector of swords and a trained sword master himself. He learnt martial arts while growing up in India and studied Tai Chi Chuan or Chinese swordsmanship. His wife also is a martial artist.

Sehgal has been a fight director and choreographer, too.

Sehgal trusts his imagination and resilience to steer him into the future.

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