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Los Angeles #FemmeNouvelle: Malika Guram

Malika Guram (MG) is a go-getter female in film living in Los Angeles who just finished her first movie as a Director. The film, Soldier Saints, is a documentary about Sikhism - specifically focused on a 300 year-old festival called Hola Mohalla - that she directed on site in Anandpur Sahib, India. Soldier Saints became much more than a film for MG (and directing a film is a huge accomplishment, especially for a woman in her 20s). Through being involved in every aspect of the making of the documentary, MG returned to LA with the confidence and insight to make her an even better filmmaker. She also realized that the only way for her to set herself apart in the Industry and step out of the corporate ladder was to also step out of her comfort zone and "just make a movie".

Soldier Saints is currently being submitted to festivals around the world - large and small (stills from the film are included above). Stay tuned for what will be an incredible insight into the culture and history of Sikhism, and be sure to check out the Editor's note below!). Here is MG's advice:

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The Nouvelle Connection (The NC): How would you define success?

Malika Guram (MG): Success is ultimately being the first female James Bond director. Or in a bigger sense being a recognizable face in the film industry.

The NC: What are some of your daily habits/life hacks that have aided in your success?

MG: Because I work for myself, it's key to keep myself motivated and on task. Writing everything I need to get done in the morning and checking it off seems simple but it keeps me straying too far, because I also watch a lot of movies and TV. Immersing myself in my industry keeps me inspired.

The NC: What is the first thing you do to start your day?

MG: I catch up on the news on the New York Times and The Hollywood Reporter

The NC: What are three essential things you carry with you in your bag when you leave the house?

MG: It’s on my phone but music and podcasts. I try to keep myself inspired throughout the day. Also a notebook, I write down any little thing that catches my eye or ear. Really just those 2 things!

The NC: 5 things you recommend for women looking to pursue their passion(s)?

MG:

  • 1. Make connections. It's a "no shame" business; use every resource. Reach out to people you think are interesting and aspire to be like.
  • 2. Just go for it, don't wait for someone to hand it to you
  • 3. It sucks but be twice as prepared as the boys. I’ve done tasks of higher ups on jobs because I knew what I was doing and that’s when people recognized my ability.
  • 4. Be willing to do it for free at first but know when you’re worth more
  • 5. Make sure you’re always updated on your passion, know what’s new and hot but also the classics. Make sure you’re as educated as you possibly can be so everyone knows why you’re there

The NC: Are you a planner or of the ‘go with the flow’ mentality?

MG: I would say that I’m a planner. I have to be, otherwise I don't get things done. I have a wandering mind

The NC: What has been key in your journey to success?

MG: Taking my career into my own hands

The NC: How has your career/life path changed along the way?

MG: I lived in LA for two years PAing (Production Assistant) and 2nd ADing (Assistant Director) and finally I realized I could be doing this for a decade if I didn't make the move myself, so I made my own movie. I came up with the idea, got funding through Kickstarter and just made it happen. At least for film, moving up the ladder isn’t the only way.

The NC: What advice would you have for young women today?

MG: Do what you love and be the best at it. It’s okay if your first experience is a learning one. In making my own movie I’ve learnt more than in film school and working on other people’s sets combined.

*Editor's Note*

Looking to get started in the film industry or stay in the know? These articles can help:

So You Want to Get into the Film Industry

20 Rising Female Directors You Need to Know