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Visualizing the future of visual jobs. Interview with Deval Mistry

Deval Mistry

Deval, why did you move from India to NY in 2016?

Upon completing my education in animation and film making (2012), I started working in a professional capacity with local media agencies. As a creative visualizer, I had collaborated with both the public and private sectors developing media campaigns. By 2016, I had played decisive roles in multiple print and digital campaigns, commercial campaigns, short and long form films. India provided ample exposure in the local and national professional experience. Soon, I realized that a lot of the work done for large scale audiences in India was non-creative and more mechanical, labor-type work. All the creative decisions and developments happened at the international head offices in the USA. Thus, I decided to return to academia and pursue an M.A. in Communication, Arts and Media Management in New York.

You received the John J. Theobald Graduate Achievement Award in Communication Arts as the best graduate student in your department. What do you remember about those days?

It was a great honor. I was already super happy with being nominated, but winning the award made it one the best days of my life. Returning to school full-time after having worked professionally for 4 years isn’t an easy transition. Many times over the following two years of study for my master degree I have had doubts about coming back to school. But receiving the award from the school for best graduate achievement confirmed for me that it was the right decision and a worthy choice.

What is the main difference between working in India and in NY?

The industry in India is equally concentrated and explored as it in NY. However, when working in India one has to work within the restricted rules and constraints of the regional society. It’s challenging and helps you grow, but soon one realizes the lack of freedom of expression. The USA, and particularly NY, embraces and celebrates the right to freedom of expression, a freedom equally reflected in both work and lifestyle.

How has New York affected your career?

It’s been more than 4 years that I have been working in NY. The intensity of pace and the variety of projects that I have had the opportunities to work on would have taken me much longer to accomplish elsewhere. I have worked on music videos, PSA, corporate commercials, short films, TV pilots, web-series, LIVE news productions, print news and streaming shows, as well as Broadway shows. NY has introduced me to multiple cultures which has shaped and expanded my design thinking, making it more inclusive and ever-evolving.

Deval Mistry (producer) with Singer song writer Jody Leylac on the shoot of the music video produced by him.

Who are some of the most famous people you have worked with?

Susan Seidelmen and Jesse Kelly.

You worked as an assistant director, and have now decided to specialize as a Director of Visual and Creative Services. What are the main differences between being a movie director and being a Director of Visual and Creative Services?

A movie director mainly works with the narrative of the movie. He works within the realm of moviemaking only. Whereas a Director of Visual and Creative Services is involved in every decision, ranging from pre-production, post-production, marketing and publication. I have had ample experience at every stage of the production process and gained the technical knowledge, but I realized I love supervising a project right from its inception stage until the final release. Thus, I decided to specialize as Director of Visual and Creative Services.

What are some of your current projects?

Currently, I am working with a start-up political opinion digital network called "The First." The programming of the network focuses on the freedom of speech and expression in the current age of global internet access. My responsibilities include designing graphic and film assets for the current and future programming of network and its several shows, executing approved assets with the production crew on a daily basis, supervising the daily production and post-production process, and designing social media marketing content.

How do you think the special effects industry will change and influence the world of communication?

Just a decade ago, the special effects industry was restricted to Hollywood and big networks. However, the cloud culture and the booming audiences on smaller devices, like tablets and phones, have raised expectations of the content produced by every production - big and small. The result is that the tools for special effects and the workforce have spread into every genre of the world of communication.

Deval Mistry (Director of Creative and Visual Services) directing the "I'm Right with Jesse Kelly" show on the The First TV Network.

Your work is very connected with social media strategy. Do you think that social media is changing communication in real life, too?

Yes, indeed. Social media has become a very integral medium, and for some markets, the major medium for marketing and sales. While designing and creating content for any client or project, I have to consider the current social media trend, as well as forecast the trend, so that content grabs the attention of the intended audience and generates engagement. Strategies like click-bait titles and thumbnails, call-to-action messaging, consistency of scheduling and collaborative hookups have to be used in measured proportions while designing creatives and visuals.

In the future, is it possible to have a social media platform dedicated to special effects only?

Social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat have already started experimenting with filters and themes which are created and contributed to by individual artists. Artist like @eduard_ov have received great response and now have a permanent and prominent position on Instagram. It is evident that the market will soon have a social platform dedicated to artists and designers publishing and collaborating on special effects content.

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