The film and television industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, with traditional filmmaking methods becoming unviable. But the demand for new content has only increased—and the show must go on. In the seventh of our interviews with Harappa faculty, we asked filmmaker and producer Sunitha Tati what the impact of the lockdown has been on the professional and personal front. Sunitha, the founder and director of Guru Group, a film production house, tells us which Harappa Habits have helped her navigate the challenges of the lockdown, how her film projects were affected by it, and how she envisions the future of the film and television industry in the post-COVID world. Read on.

Adapting To Work From Home Using Good Habits

Working remotely has been a big switch for most people. While it's been seamless for many, it’s been a big challenge for others. We asked Sunitha what working from home has been like, and which skills and habits helped her manage the challenges of the lockdown. She said she has built a great work ethic and discipline, and learned to demarcate her personal and professional space, which has helped her have a semblance of work-life balance. She has also mastered the ability to schedule all important tasks and meetings in her calendar and stick to her schedule.

According to Sunitha, discipline is the first and foremost habit that young professionals should hone in this period. She believes that when working from home, people need to clearly demarcate a working space if possible. Holding oneself accountable is critical to better time management. She suggests people learn to draw boundaries and learn to handle both housework and office work, simultaneously. 

The Impact Of The Lockdown On Her Film Projects

Like many other industries, the traditional filmmaking industry also ground to a halt during the lockdown. We asked Sunitha how her work as a filmmaker was impacted by the lockdown and how she has navigated this challenge. She said that luckily most of her projects were in the pre-production phase when the lockdown started. She was also building new stories and hadn’t started shooting them yet. So while things have slowed down, she didn’t incur any major losses due to canceled shoots. However, she has been facing funding-related challenges. Several of her investors pulled the plug on projects. She is trying to solve this problem by communicating regularly with her current investors to instil confidence in them. 

We asked her what big changes her organization has made during the lockdown. Sunitha said that her team has been using technology for meetings. She has been able to get people who work in remote villages to become tech-friendly and do Google Meet calls. She has also used the lockdown period to upskill her team.

The Importance Of Communication And Collaboration

We asked Sunitha which Harappa Habit —Think, Solve, Communicate, Collaborate, Lead—she has relied most on in the lockdown period. Sunitha says she has relied a lot on two habits during the lockdown—Communicate and Collaborate. She has been communicating as often as possible because she didn’t want to be isolated from people. She also realized that she needed to have empathy for what people might be going through, while working and collaborating with them.

Learnings And Milestones

There are three things that Sunitha learned during this period. Firstly, her experience taught her that each of us has a purpose and we each have to go through this journey of experiencing the highs and lows of life to get to where we need to go. However, being grateful for what you have helps. Next, being patient and avoiding restlessness brings method to the madness, which is much-needed as we try to manage our lives amid the pandemic. Lastly, she believes that it is important to keep things simple in these times—one shouldn’t pile their plate, and we all should learn to prioritize. 

On The Long-Term Impact Of COVID-19

The nationwide lockdowns imposed due to the pandemic have caused a shift in the way people watch films. With multiplexes and cinema halls closed indefinitely, people have turned to OTT platforms to consume films and television shows. We asked Sunitha if she feels that this is a permanent change. As a producer-director, she strongly believes that theatres are here to stay and watching films in cinema halls is a part of our culture. 

Reflecting on the impact of the pandemic and lockdowns on her own industry, Sunitha said that this period will force filmmakers and production houses to reduce the wastage of resources during the production of projects. For example, it’s common to see actors and actresses with entourages that comprise a number of bodyguards, drivers, dedicated make-up persons, assistants, etc. But now teams will be leaner and people will become more efficient. 

We asked how she anticipates the world at large will change in the near future. Sunitha said that she believes that people will slowly realize that COVID-19 won’t go away, so we will have to keep everything clean. This will help improve general health, hygiene, and sanitation. She thinks there will be doubt and uncertainty for a while but then we will emerge stronger—we will adopt better lifestyles to boost our immunity and we will start appreciating nature a lot more.

Read the other blogs in this series here and here.

Talking about the Collaborate habit, you may want to check out the Managing Teamwork course from Harappa Education and learn to build great relationships at the workplace. Explore our other Online Courses and begin your journey towards professional success.

Sunitha Tati was interviewed by Sanjay Deshpande, who is a Senior Specialist in the Curriculum Team at Harappa Education.

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