There are only a few people who can achieve so many milestones at such a young age and Neel Menon is surely one of them. The multi talented kid has won the best Documentary award at the prestigious San Diego International Kids Film Festival and has won or been nominated at various other film festivals world wide.
This 14 year old prodigy has been making films for the last 5-6 years. From working on stop-motion films based on superheroes to fiction stories to public service ads to documentaries, he has dipped his young toe in versatile genres.
He is a one man film making machine on his way to being an auteur in the true sense. He writes the scripts and screenplay, does the research, shoots the films on his Canon 5D, edits them on Adobe Premier and composes the music. To the last of these, he brings on board his skills as a talented Tabla and percussion player. His other great passion in life is music and he is part of a Rock and Blues band with a bunch of other 14 year olds. They do Led Zeppelin covers and original blues compositions.
His latest documentary ‘Girls Should Stay At Home’, was made in February 2020 as part of an individual project at school and was exhibited through a network of NGOs. It talks about the important and critical subject of gender equality. The film has been appreciated by many when it made the rounds of the Children’s film festivals around the world. It has won awards at the San Diego International Kids film festival, Accolade Global Film Competition, Kids First Film Festival, Druk International Film Festival and has been part of the official selection at the Boston International Kids Film Festival, Student Los Angeles Film Festival and the NY Young Filmmakers Festival.
The film has also been picked for worldwide exhibition on the Planet Classroom network.
The film has been entered into at least 10 more international festivals and accolades continue to come in.
Talking about the globally loved documentary, Neel says, ‘Girls Should Stay At Home’ began its life as a “Service As Action” project at my school, the Oberoi International School in Mumbai. We were told to pick one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and I chose Gender Equality, as this was a topic I had not really explored creatively yet. My teachers were good enough to give me the freedom to use film as a medium. From the beginning, I knew I wanted to make a documentary. This would be my second documentary, and I wanted more practise in the field. I also chose to create a documentary because I knew it would give the film that sense of rawness and reality that is needed to fight a problem as real-world as this. Initially, the idea was to create a film telling the stories of 5-6 women in India, breaking social barriers in terms of both gender, and profession. I began looking online, for contact numbers and emails, and eventually selected three women who’s stories could inspire others globally.”
He further mentions, “The research and shooting process took about two months to complete. The interview locations and framing were pretty standard, but I wanted to focus more on the B-Roll as it helped to convey the personalities of these three fantastic women in, essentially, their natural habitats. During the editing process, my main goal was to keep it as simple as possible. I didn’t want style or fancy graphics to get in the way of their stories. Overall, my focus was to tell these three stories of these amazing women to inspire others to start telling theirs.”
You can see the film here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBDPThLnSuI&t=438s
Neel has recently been successful with his ad-making attempt. He made a one-minute Public Service commercial a few months back. Please find the advertisement here:
Neel made his first documentary in 2019:
The youngster is back in action already and is currently working on a new public service commercial dealing with Hunger eradication.