Radheya Jegatheva is an Oscar-qualified and AACTA- nominated director, animator and filmmaker based in Perth, Australia. Radheya’s films have been selected to 28 Academy Award Qualifying Festivals. His 2019 film, The Quiet was made the longlist for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short, and his 2017 film iRony was nominated for an Australian Academy of Cinema & TV Arts (AACTA) Award.
Radheya’s films collectively have more than 1,500 official selections and won 540 awards worldwide, and have been played in all the world’s 7 continents – including Antarctica at the Davis Research Station.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
Because the ‘world’ that was created in my film was the fractured mind of a lonely man, I can’t say I would want to live in it, despite the celestial beauty that exists in there. For a sci-fi world I’d buy a one-way ticket to, perhaps the Star Trek universe…I’m not sure if this counts, but some of the Sci-Fi worlds that Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes conjures up in his imagination looked super appealing to me as a kid, and honestly still does now.
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
Friend (as long as they can pass a CAPTCHA test). As for if robots started making their own sci-fi films, as someone who was initially discouraged from going into the arts and the film industry even though it was my passion - I’d absolutely support them! Robots could afford to be a little more creative, and everyone deserves a go at their endeavors.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Ellen Ripley because she’s Ellen Ripley, Louise Banks from Arrival (2016) because I love Amy Adams and an interpreter is always a good addition to a team, and GERTY from Moon (2009) because I could do with a benevolent robot that looks out for me above all else.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I’m an over-thinker, and to find ideas, both good and bad, I do a lot of thinking. I do a lot of this thinking at night, which is probably why I find it hard to go to sleep. Many for The Quiet and my other projects came to me while I was lying in bed. I know I'd forget it in the morning if I didn't write it down, so I’d reach over to my phone and quickly type the idea into my notes app, even if it is like staring into the sun. Then the next day or several days later I comb through the notes and see if I can find any gems that might spark something great.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
I would consider myself to be part of a sci-fi community, I’ve always loved sci-fi and was fascinated by space, like a lot of children. I used to be a big Doctor Who nerd, and I think Gravity is probably my most watched movie of all time. I don’t necessarily see it as isolating, and I think filmmakers are very used to having their brain in the past, in the future, everywhere while we’re stuck in the present, in our reality, trying to figure out how we can show viewers a new dimension.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
I would consider myself a mix of both, a lot of my animations and work is done on my laptop, and my drawings are hand-drawn but they're still done on a tablet, so it’s a mix. But when I do create something digitally I love bringing in real-world textures and that organic feeling into it to create a blend of the two, and I like sketching storyboards and concepts out on paper. My films tend to feature a range of different styles and types of visuals and animation, so I think that the technology I make my films with (digital with analog elements) and how it all mixes together helps to lean into that. One of the types of animation that I haven't explored yet is stop motion, which I would consider quite analog, but I’m really keen to explore that space.
Where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
A lot of my inspiration from my short films have actually come from stories or ideas I’d written years previously. Elements of The Quiet started out with a short story I wrote called silence, which begins and ends with the same words as in the film. The story was quite different but it evolved from this piece of writing in high school as a starting point, which I’d then elaborate and improve upon. Space can seem quite unfamiliar and mysterious, and there’s no sound up there. For The Quiet, by constructing this human story set on Earth and telling it through celestial imagery, I was able to take those relatable/familiar everyday household sounds that are part of our lives and develop ideas from there as I projected them into space, twisting them into something more unfamiliar. In fact, one of the first thoughts I had for the film was the sound of salt shakers and stars, and the sound of a gas stove and the sun. For the character in the film, these sounds from his past essentially help to construct his environment around him, and at the same time they really helped to construct the film itself as well.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
This is very difficult but I’d have to say Star Wars (but Star Trek to live in), Philip K. Dick, Practical (even though CGI is more of my forté, you can’t beat the look of practical in so many scenarios), Utopia to live in and Dystopia if I’m watching it, and Pre Apocalypse.