Interview with Shashi Balooja, CEO of Media at Large

  • Shashi Balooja

    Shashi Balooja

    One of our newest clients at AMP3, Media At Large, is one of the leading producers of independent media. I sat down with Media At Large CEO Shashi Balooja, for a discussion on new media, acting, and what his company is all about…

    TM: So what exactly is Media At Large?

    SB: Well, our key phrase is the synergy between talent and technology. My background is in theater and the performing arts. And as a result of wanting to branch into film and television, I started a production company. And in the process of doing that, I started becoming more aware of technology in terms of CGI, After Effects, Final Cut, editing software, the shift from using traditional film to using digital media, HD media, and using the internet for distribution, and for interaction between people throughout the world. For me, all of it is really interesting and I want to find the integrity in every aspect of this and synergize it. That’s my dream, my goal. Create really interesting, fun, creative content.

    TM: Seen any good films lately?

    SB: Redbelt. Loved it.

    TM: I’m a huge David Mamet fan!

    SB: He’s amazing. I can never pronounce his name, the actor….Chiwetel Ejiofor. He’s someone I would love to work with, that I aspire to work with. The film was well written, well directed, well timed. The performances were excellent. I was just sort of captivated the whole way through. It’s not a typical film that I would go see, but I walked away thinking about things on so many different levels.

    TM: Media At Large has a YouTube channel. Do you have any favorite YouTube videos (other than your own)?

    SB: There is a lot of really hilarious comedy stuff that I’ll randomly watch. What I usually do is just walk into the studio and we have anywhere from 8 to 15 interns that work with us, and these guys range from 17 to 23. And I just watch what they watch! Sometimes it’s anything from the guy with the big pimple growing on his face (I’m sure most people who go on YouTube know exactly which one I’m talking about), to the Japanese music videos, where it’s sort of an English course, but they’re studying it to music – which is hysterical. And of course, there’s the Obama Girl. For me, content is content. I look at everything. I think life is a culmination of points of views and aspects.

    TM: What’s more challenging: acting or managing Media At Large?

    SB: I would say managing Media At Large. When I’m acting, that’s all I’m doing. For me, that’s really easy because in a way you are kind of told what to do and you know exactly what is expected of you. On the other side, as a leader or producer at Media At Large, there’s a team of people that look to you daily for decisions, for your advice, for direction. But they’re both fun.

    TM: In the movie “And Then Came Love,” you teamed up with Vanessa Williams. What was it like working with her?

    SB: First of all, I have the highest admiration and regards for her. In the 22 days on set with her, I learned some of the ultimate lessons that I think I ever will in the industry from observing her, listening to what she has to say, speaking with her. She was one of the easiest people to work with. It was an independent film, we had a limited budget, and a limited amount of time to do it, and she was starting her first day of Ugly Betty the day after we wrapped the film, and so she said from the beginning: If you guys do your part, I’m going to do my part. And this is going to get done. And she looked me in the eye and she goes: You got my back? And I said yes. I got your back. I had no idea what I was saying or what I was really committing to. And she followed through. She’s also a total hands-on mother, which is amazing. She has four kids. She spends time with them, they’re all well adjusted, polite, and just fun to be around. And she’s just so professional and not about drama and about getting the work done. She’s very focused. And I would love to work with her again. She’s pondering the idea of being affiliated with our nonprofit, Open Media Alliance, so I really hope she comes on board because she’s a really smart woman and she cares. She does give back a lot, to society in general. I just really admire her.

    TM: You attended the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. Do you consider yourself a Method Actor?

    SB: Starting acting, moving to New York, 13 years ago, Method acting was perfect for me. It just introduced me to a whole other way of life and living that, if you had never been exposed to it before, you would think they were a bunch of lunatics in a room. It opened me up emotionally. It really messed with my head. It was good therapy I’ve got to say. The bottom line is that everyone has to find what’s right for them and there are hundreds of techniques and methods out there. At the end of the day, I think an actor should really study a couple techniques and then go out and work, and learn from the real world, and pull things from life experiences.

    TM: You’re of Indian and Antiguan descent, but you call New York home. Why?

    SB: I remember the first time I was in New York, I was 5 y/o, and it was about the first time I had one of those childhood moments looking into the mirror and pretending I was an actor. And that was a really important childhood memory for me. And the other childhood moment for me was being in New York on vacation, walking out of I believe it was the Waldorf Astoria with my parents, looking up and around me, I think the MetLife or PanAm building at the time was right there. And I looked up and I was like: Wow, I want to live here. And even though I followed a different path for a long time, this was something that was a part of me that I really can’t explain. I just knew then that I would end up here. I’ve lived in a lot of different cities, the Caribbean, Montreal, London, Puerto Rico…and New York is just home. One, because it’s interesting, the diversity of this city. And two, it’s the center of the performing arts, theater, and the independent film industry. It’s real. It’s not L.A., which I work in, but then just want to come back to New York. And it’s such a magnet for me. I get stressed out working in the city and I leave, but every single time I come back and I see the New York skyline, I get energized and I want to be here.

    TM: So what’s in store for Media At Large?

    SB: Everything!

    TM: Can you be me more specific?!

    SB: Tracy, one of our producers, came to me the other day and was like: You know, I was talking to this psychic and she was saying, Oh my god, Media At Large is going to be huge and have all these satellites. To start with, I want every component that branches out of this organization to be small and personable, and be a family and be creative together, and sort of walk this earth together, and make projects together. To grow and challenge ourselves, to produce theater, digital media, film, videos, a combination of all of them, and just put ourselves at the forefront, as synergists of talent and technology. Keep it interesting and not really knowing where we’re going to go next, and having a lot of fun in the process.

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    This entry was posted on Monday, July 28th, 2008 at 8:12 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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