Culture Spotlight Featuring Andrew Gajadhar
Andrew Gajadhar, p.g.a. is a Producer, Writer, Director and Actor, known for What Matters (2018), Prelude to Infusco (2014), Shenanigans (2019), Alienography (2019), and is in production of a new horror trilogy called Milila (2020). His career started as a fight/tactical choreographer, rooted from an extensive Martial Arts, Law Enforcement, and Military background in the U.S. Marines with his founding organization, American P.I.T. Fighting Academy. Gajadhar then extended his company with his two business partners, Christian Manganelli and Faith Creech, to produce film after receiving degrees in both the Arts and Psychology. This new entity, Picture Media Group, not only rapidly grew after just two years in business, but it became a staple in the community by its ability to employ citizens and its commitment to education through produced content and community involvement. This spawned the development of a nonprofit organization that bridges the gap of industry professionals and independent filmmakers by way of networking and film education for the entire state of South Carolina, Carolina Film Network, with the help of his business partners and another colleague. At this time, Gajadhar was able to become the first ever accredited Producer with the Producers Guild of America registered with the South Carolina Film Commission. After receiving several awards and recognition for his outstanding contributions and films he's written, produced, and directed in South Carolina, to include eight nominations and three awards at the Rising Star Academy Awards in Philadelphia, PA (2018), Gajadhar and his business partners recently had their inaugural year of their own international film festival, Freedom Festival International, highlighting underrepresented groups, women, and military veterans in August of 2019. In addition to this, Gajadhar was inducted into the Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors and included in the World History Book for his Martial Science contributions as the founder of American P.I.T. Fighting. Currently, Gajadhar does public speaking engagements, is a reoccurring guest speaker and contributor to the Media Arts department at the University of South Carolina, teaches classes in the film industry, and with his business partners are in the process of building what will be the first major film studio ever in South Carolina. His mission and vision is to create his own "Hollywood" in South Carolina that will give opportunities for independent filmmakers to make their dreams a reality by having direct access to sound stages, pre-constructed live sets, tactical cinematic development, and opportunities for formal education and internships for film.
"Why leave the place our dreams were created to 'make it' when we can make those dreams a reality right here?" -Andrew Gajadhar, p.g.a.
Tell us about your experience at Hip Hop Film Festival? The Hip Hop Film Festival experience is one that I will never forget. Not only was my film well received, but I made some of the best connections in my career at the festival. I felt like a person of importance, with the entire VIP treatment and push of exposure. The best part of the festival had to be how much C.R. Capers made us all feel like we were her children, and she was going to do everything she could to take care of us and make sure we got as much publicity, exposure, and knowledge of the industry as possible. Ultimately, I left more confident and excited than I ever expected to be.
Why are stories from the culture important? Stories from the culture are more than important, they are a necessity. We are absolutely nothing without our history, and our future is meek without full representation and inclusion. We need our stories to not only be included, but we need them to influence our community. The psychology of our culture is based on our experiences, and our stories are our therapy. Every beat of our rhythm is a heart knowing it’s alive. Every tear that we shed is testimony of what we’ve been through. Every story that we tell is inspirational food for our soul. In short, for our progression, we need us.
What projects are you working on now? Right now I’m building the first major studio ever to be in South Carolina, and it is exclusively going to be for the betterment of independent filmmaking. With our studio, we are also creating the first independent distribution line that will put independent films in select commercial theaters for an entire week before DVD, VOD, and online platforms. My company is also preparing for our second year run of our international film festival in August. I am also in pre-production of my first horror film, set to be filmed in October. In addition to all of this, I am being included in the Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Honors History Book as the founder of American P.I.T. Fighting Martial Science. I’m looking forward to a very productive year.
Why do you think the Harlem film house and Hip Hop Film Festival is important?The Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival is important because there is no other film festival that truly belongs to our culture the way that it does. There are other cultured festivals, but they keep the culture contained without encouraging it to flourish. This festival is like a museum of culture that acts like a traveling exhibition, and its reach expands beyond its walls.