In 2012, Mahesh was introduced to video production by an inmate at Oregon State Penitentiary who was serving a life sentence. He used his newfound skills to give back to the community by producing cultural and spiritual programs from the South Asian diaspora. He also produces music videos, including a piece recognized as a “Best Music Video, Independent Producer” in the 2019 Hometown Media Awards. Mahesh allies himself with OpenSignal, an inclusive community media space in Portland, OR. All of his production and editing work is done on volunteer time.
I was drawn to this project through a strong camaraderie felt with the artist. As he began his journey to build his first console table, I started my own journey to produce my first documentary. We wanted to craft a story for artists in all domains; underneath documenting a physical process of manifestation, we have documented the ethos and mental process of ideation, discovery, and presentation — capturing what all content creators struggle with in their work.
Neal and I have similar philosophies in our creative flows. During filming, many of the pithy sayings that came out of his mouth were fully in line with my own thoughts. This included his stance on breaking through “impostor syndrome”, on letting go of your creation since it was never yours in the first place, and on always being the best version of yourself. We hope that through sharing our own stories, we will encourage and uplift others who are on their own paths, internal or external. The audience can then see it is not only the concrete that bends, but also our own minds, to allow for tremendous growth and learning.
This project is also unique in that the director of the studio unit is a hearing-challenged person-of-color. Andre Gray has been deaf his entire life, but he uses this to his advantage; plus he is one of the most hard-working producers I know. He took the lead in interviewing Neal and his background in art and graphic design made him well-qualified to conduct the conversation and tease out the proper sound-bites. Although this was logistically challenging, the crew rose to the occasion with an atmosphere of inclusivity. In projects such as this and others, Andre leads the pack, allowing the deaf community to witness his efforts and to feel empowered.