The Power of Passion: Jazz Productions’ story

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The Power of Passion: Jazz Productions’ story

A turquoise bicycle by the balcony, car seats turned into DIY mattresses and a striking blank green board on the wall with ‘IMAGINE’ written under it. The aura at the Jazz Productions’ office exudes creativity. In the awe-inspiring atmosphere of their office, Aneel Neupane, Labesh Shrestha, Niva Rajbangshi, Aman Karna and Prajwal Bhattarai shared their journey as creative entrepreneurs with me. 

 

Dropping out of college to build a career following passion

Three friends – Aneel Neupane, 24; Labesh Shrestha, 24; and Tejaswee Rajthala, 25 – decided to drop out of college in 2014 to build their venture. Aneel dropped out of CA course in Delhi to pursue his passion for photography. He would often go on photo walks with the camera he got from his parents when he agreed to join CA, and posted photos on Facebook where he met Labesh and Tejaswee. They were working in the same field and shared a common passion for visual arts. Aneel was working as a Cinematographer/Photographer in Newgen Internet in Mumbai; Labesh was a BBS student at People’s Campus working with Sattya Media Arts; and Tejaswi was freelancing. 

They realized that there were creative agencies in town, but there weren’t many who were doing that well. To satisfy both their passion and market need, Labesh and Tejaswee started working unofficially as Jazz Productions in Kathmandu while Aneel was still in Mumbai. Working for others, they reached a saturation point and decided to build their own venture. Aneel returned to Nepal in September 2014 and the trio officially established their venture under the name of Jazz Productions in October, 2014.

Their company creates multimedia products like videos, photos, commercials, and music videos. A creative media house, it is run by a group of like-minded creative individuals with no hierarchy among themselves. Each team member specializes in their creative area of interest and together they try to cover as much as they can in multimedia business.

“We approached people and shared our idea for the company with them even though we did not know where it would go. We had a tough time getting people who shared the same dreams. But slowly the team multiplied and after many additions and lay-offs, we built the present team who share the same passion. We also have our friends who help us with projects when needed,” says Aneel.

Building the team

The self-learned artist trio built their team through personal network. “We approached people and shared our idea for the company with them even though we did not know where it would go. We had a tough time getting people who shared the same dreams. But slowly the team multiplied and after many additions and lay-offs, we built the present team who share the same passion. We also have our friends who help us with projects when needed,” says Aneel.

The present team of Jazz Productions includes Aneel Neupane (Creative Director), Labesh Shrestha (Productions Director), Niva Rajbangshi (Manager), Prajwal Bhattarai (Art Director), Aman Karna (Sound Designer), and Tripty Pakhrin (Social Media/ Marketing). Tejaswee has left for Australia and started a branch there under the name Jazz Productions Australia in 2016.

Their families are not very supportive either. “Our parents, as any others’, want us to have a stable income with secure job and we understand their perspective. But at this point, the company is beyond us.  

A fair share of startup struggles

Following their passion in creative visual arts was a dream come true but the journey for Jazz Productions has not been easy. They started with no professional equipment or portfolio while reaching out to clients. Their first clients were from their personal network and as they could not afford to import the required equipment, they would either rent, create DIY equipment themselves, or settle for what was available. 

In the initial phase, the team had to settle for work they did not want to do just for the sake of money. Aneel recalls, “We had to do all sorts of work. Our ideas didn’t match with that of the clients’ but we had to do it for the money. And there have been instances of bad debts where we trusted people but they didn’t pay us after the job was done.”

Their families are not very supportive either. “Our parents, as any others’, want us to have a stable income with secure job and we understand their perspective. But at this point, the company is beyond us. 

When there is a project in hand, a certain percentage of income directly goes to the company account after which each person is paid based on their contribution. “There have been times when we were completely broke but we still worked with hungry stomachs and sleepless nights,” states Niva.

A year into business, the reality shock got to them and the motivation of the team hit rock bottom. They felt like leaving everything. But they could not leave a hard year’s of work and their passion behind for nothing. So they decided to discuss the matter and revive the workflow. 

 

Reviving work

Towards the end of the first year, the team decided to try a new structure of workflow. Aneel had learned about the importance of having a workflow in Mumbai and realized that other creative houses did not follow a specific workflow; this was how they thought they could stand out and position themselves in the market. They followed their intuition and began with new energy.  

To vent the frustration from working on similar projects and to have a steady revenue model, the team segregated its operations to ‘planned projects’ and ‘passion projects’. Planned projects include client projects like documentaries for NGOs, wedding photography and videos, on-location fashion photography, and music videos. The revenue earned from these back up their passion projects which include miniature photography, animations, among other forms of creative visual arts. At present, Jazz Productions works with at least three projects a month.

 

“We also learned to take a stand for ourselves. I’d read somewhere that if you want to be a lion, don’t eat grass and that resonated. We are very selective about our clients now and have placed our services as exclusive in the market,” shares Aneel. “We meet with clients three or four times to understand their perception and start to work only if our ideas gel with them,” adds Niva. 

 

The vision to build a legacy

“There is a weird perception with Nepalis and we want to change that. A photographer or videographer is not limited to a studio. There are different dimensions to it and this is an art as well. People do not see the kind of work that we do as an art form. Visual art is seen as more of a business. As a result, it has been difficult for us to find investors,” states Labesh.

But they have set forth to create a legacy. They want to establish Jazz Productions as a popular name in the market by creating a platform for artists and encouraging them. They have been inspired by Fuzz Factory Productions to operate their venture but have never had a mentor as such. Therefore, they want to become mentors to others. 

This vision has kept them going despite all their struggles and challenges. Niva shared an unforgettable experience when they were on a photo shoot for Daljit Sudan, a renowned fashion designer, during the earthquake. “We were at most probably the narrowest alley in Patan, surrounded by oldest of houses when the earthquake hit. Out of the 10 shots planned for the day, we had only gotten three or four. Labesh broke both his legs in the incident. It was a horrible experience. But driven by our vision, we completed the project within three months, after the trauma had settled down.”

Jazz Productions has also organized their first film festival ‘Indie Visuals’ to share and promote their love for short-movie making. “We were discussing about screening our short-film, BOB, among our circle but then I said that we need to include others too. So we organized this event in spite of our sponsors walking out on us in the last minute. We pulled money from our pockets to make this event happen where eight movies were screened to an exclusively invited audience. The positive response has motivated us to organize it every six months now,” says Niva.

“Take the leap of faith, follow your heart. You will regret the things you don’t do, so just go for it. In Nepal, there is a chance to be pioneers in many fields. Nepal needs brave souls to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams.”

The Future of Jazz Productions

Jazz Productions plan on exploring new areas of visual arts. They have been working on exploring sounds, design and art at the moment. They also plan on working with 2D and 3D animation-focused projects. They want to utilize their reach on Facebook and YouTube to create a fan base and have a steady revenue model while also building their own website in near future.

To share their knowledge and learn along the process, they also plan on organizing workshops for interested people and work on more passion projects. Additionally, they are planning to hire individuals in various departments and are branching out to the US soon. 

“There are going to be a lot of hardships but we aim for the moon,” says Aneel. To anyone aspiring to do something in life, his advice is “Take the leap of faith, follow your heart. You will regret the things you don’t do, so just go for it. In Nepal, there is a chance to be pioneers in many fields. Nepal needs brave souls to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams.”

 

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Guest Sunday, 22 October 2017