Up Close With HK-Born Film Producer Hrisheek Panchmatia


Up Close With Hong Kong-Born Hollywood Film Producer Hrisheek Panchmatia

Hrisheek Panchmatia could be considered Hong Kong’s newest rising star in Hollywood’s entertainment industry, with an ascent to power in the cut-throat film space that would rival Jamal Malik on “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The former HSBC banker sought to invigorate his creative juices in a six-month trip abroad in Los Angeles to explore the film industry, which turned into a three-year-long journey operating as a film producer, working on the next big film hits, and meeting the next big stars of Hollywood.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hrisheek sat down with The Beat Asia to chat about the fated trip to Hollywood, his growth as an Indian-Hong Konger film producer in Hollywood, diversity behind and in-front of the screen, and the future for the rising star.

Tell me a bit about yourself, Hrisheek. What was your time spent in Hong Kong and studies at the University of Hong Kong like?

“I was born and raised in Hong Kong and studied economics and finance at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) before transitioning to the film industry in 2019. Growing up in Hong Kong was incredible. It is such a unique and wonderful place that has so much to offer.”

“Studying at HKU was honestly a bit tough; I felt a bit out of my depth with how competitive it was and how smart everyone was. But studying here taught me a lot; it taught me that your chosen profession has to be something that you are extremely passionate about because you must always be able to give it 110 per cent.”

“The lessons I learnt [at HKU] played an enormous role in pushing me to pursue [a job in] the entertainment industry.”

Why and how did you see yourself transition to this field after your first dip into the industry, your six-month stay in California?

“The summer before I left Hong Kong, I did an internship at a bank, and it went extremely well. I thought that I had a fairly good shot at a return offer or otherwise being hired by my team through a regular application.”

“The way I had justified my six-month stay in California was that it would get the desire to pursue [a career in] entertainment out of my system. At the end of my six-month stay, I found myself more driven to be part of that industry and ended up studying [film] production which has led to being a part of so many amazing projects.”

What projects have you been involved in during the beginning of your career?

“When I started out, I got involved in as many short films as I could primarily because when it comes to filmmaking there is only so much you can learn from books and online tools, the best teacher is practice and just making a movie. [O]n short films, you do not usually have many resources so everything comes down to you and your ability to make the most of any situation.”

“I was the associate producer on the independent film, “The Runner,” which performed exceptionally well on the festival circuit. This was an amazing experience, it taught me so much about how independent movies work, how to make the most of a limited budget, how the distribution process works, and the art of getting into film festivals.”

“[Working on short films and “The Runner”] were perfect opportunities to have to gain [jobs] on bigger productions, both on the independent side with “Get Lost,” and on the studio side, “House of Gucci.”

How has your experience been working as a producer versus working directly with

“When working as a producer, you look at everything in a much more macro perspective, […] you are heavily involved in pre-production, the planning of the shoot, the actual shoot and post-production, and editing. You are always working towards the big picture.”

“When working with talent, you also spend a good amount of time prior to the shoot breaking down the script and discussing the role so that the actor can be as prepared as possible. I now have an extremely unique perspective on how actor’s work, their mindset and how to forge a meaningful relationship with them.”

“As a producer, although you are always on location, a lot of the time you are planning the next day’s shoot or putting out the fires of the day. In my experience, working as a producer is a lot more hectic than working with talent, but it is well worth it. I have been extremely fortunate to work with very high- calibre actors who are genuinely fun and good people to be around.”

What do you think about the racial and cultural diversity of characters in the industry, both on camera and behind?

“I think that having greater representation both in front of and behind the camera is extremely important and I am so happy that the industry is getting more and more progressive day by day.”

“Diversity in the industry is so important, not only because it leads to new and innovative styles of content and filmmaking, but because it can also inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers.”

“One of the biggest reasons I was hesitant to enter the entertainment industry was the fact that I did not think that someone of my background, being an Indian from Hong Kong and not being an American, could find any sort of success within the industry. [A]s time goes on and the industry [becomes] more diverse, I hope that this mindset changes and that this stigma is removed.”

What is it like working with up-and-coming stars Edouard Philipponnat, Ella Travolta, and Jan Luis Castellanos?

“It has been wonderful! They are all so talented and such genuine people, so it has been an absolute pleasure. Working with Edouard has been an incredible and extraordinary journey. He just wrapped Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon” and has two films coming out this year so it is really an exciting time, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.”

“Ella is a singer as well an actress and this was new to me. She is truly one of the most talented and nicest people that I have ever met. It has been amazing to work with her and to learn a little bit about the music industry as well."

“Jan Luis is nothing short of an extraordinaire and I have had a [great] time working with him. He has so many remarkable things happening right now. His first big feature film “Tall Girl 2” recently premiered #1 on Netflix and the second season of his TV show “Bridge and Tunnel” will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.”

What is the future for you in entertainment?

"I would like to eventually transition into the studio system and have a position that allows me to develop and produce a slate of independent films. I hope to be able to give young up and coming filmmakers the opportunity to have their breakout project and help usher in a new generation of filmmakers.”

“At the same, I hope that I can develop and manage young talent. Working with talent has honestly been such a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Being able to help them achieve success in both their professional and personal lives has been amazing. [Hopefully in the future], I can discover more young talent.”

“I would also really love to do a film in Hong Kong one day. It would really be a shame not to do one here.”

What projects are you currently working on?

“The film that we shot last summer, “Get Lost,” is nearing its final stages of post-production. It has been an amazing journey and it has truly shaped into something special. I cannot wait for the rest of the world to watch it.”

“I am currently producing a supernatural television series based off the New York Times best-selling novel “Relentless” with the production company Force Majeure. I am executive producing a rom-com that shoots in Atlanta this summer that I am passionate about. It is a special film with a beautiful message at the end.

“I am producing two feature films, one of which has an Academy Award-nominated writer attached. The project is very much under wraps now, but if all goes smoothly, we will be shooting not too far from Hong Kong early next year!”

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