Created in 2002, the Trailblazer Awards recognize outstanding achievements by racially diverse professionals in the Canadian entertainment industry. These 6 remarkable individuals inspire others and blaze a trail of excellence through their constant efforts to improve and diversify our vibrant film and television industry.

2020 TRAILBLAZER AWARDS

Anand Ramayya

Producer, Karma Films Inc

Anand Ramayya, founder and principal of KarmaFilm grew up in Northern Saskatchewan working on his father’s guerrilla films.  After dropping out of University Ramayya spent 5 formative years teaching english and backpacking throughout Asia before returning to finish his degree and pursue a career in film and tv.  

Combining a passion for humanist, inclusive stories KarmaFilm has built an impressive track record as a producer of original content.  With over 75 hours of doc, animation & feature film credits KarmaFilm has received more than 35 awards for excellence including 6 Geminis/CSA’s (Canada’s Emmy).

Check out our Exclusive Interview with the Trailblazer Below

Q: What Drives you?

I love the work and I am passionate about the stories we tell.

Q: Is there a theme in the work you pick?

When I look back at the slate of work that I and our company have done and that we anticipate doing, they seem to have very wide and sometimes diverging themes. The connective piece between them is that they are stories that bring people together. I feel passionate about those stories – about identifying the commonalities between my characters, their stories and the viewer. Being passionate about the stories that I tell has been essential. I have tried (early in my career) to pitch shows that I don’t identify with and it never ‘felt right.’

Q: Was it luck or strategy that helped you find success?

I’m still working on the “successful” part and hope for more to come! But seriously this is a tough question, you can set goals, strategize and work hard but we all know there are so many talented story tellers that never get recognized. That said, luck will most certainly NOT find you if you’re not in the game. My first ‘break’ into the industry though came about 20 years ago when I was accepted into the Reel Diversity Program for emerging diverse creators. I pitched a doc about my Indo-Canadian family and it went on to win the Gemini ‘Canada Award’. That was my “lucky” break, and I believe consistent with the strategy of the program.

Q: Who impacted your career the most?

Definitely my father, he was a rebellious new Canadian who immigrated to Canada in the 60’s. He wanted to make his own films at a time when there was no industry in Saskatchewan. His audacity really normalized that ‘anything is possible.’ I saw at an early age that, despite the challenges and stress there is a joy in the process that just gets into your blood.

Q: How did you build the team around you? 

For me It’s been a process of finding my tribe which I think has really come together over the last 10 years. Often a shared interest in a story sparks a connection and then if you work well together and enjoy each other it can be a pleasure. It’s a tough business but I’m very fortunate to consider many of my colleagues friends and people I truly respect. We look for ways to work together.

Q: Did you ever give up hope that you’d not make it? 

The elimination of the tax credit in my home province of Saskatchewan. I had spent 11 years of building a team and infrastructure and it was gone with the stroke of a pen. That was a tough experience, shutting down an office, laying off staff, moving into my basement. It strained every aspect of my life but again the silver lining was that when once door closes another opens. That precipitated a partial shift to India and resulted in me growing my circle of like-minded filmmakers and producers. I am so fortunate to keep such good company.

Q: What was your worst experience in this business?

I’d have to say winning my first Gemini and sharing that moment with my wife and parents, but honestly I’m still hoping the best is yet to come!

Q: What was your best

experience in this business?

I’d have to say winning my first Gemini and sharing that moment with my wife and parents, but honestly I’m still hoping the best is yet to come!

Q: Advice to someone just starting out? 

I’ll pass on the advice given to me early on, and that is to “partner up.” Always be willing to share ideas, learn and insist on surrounding yourself with smart, challenging people.

Q: How was Reelworld instrumental in your career? 

Reelworld has been pushing forward diversity in Canada since its inception in 2001, just after I started in the industry. As we stand in the wake of The Starlight Tours, Coulten Boushie, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Chantel Moore, Rodney Levi and in solidarity with #Blacklivesmatter, its clear Reelword is and always has been essential. We wouldn’t be seeing ourselves reflected in the content universe if it weren’t for Reelworld and other champions fighting to create space for our stories and voices.

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