Samiksha Katyal:

Indian American filmmaker Sameeksha L. Katyal has directed a new workplace comedy called “The Interview from Hell.” (photo provided)

Indian American filmmaker Sameeksha L. Katyal’s new short film, “The Interview from Hell,” which was filmed during the pandemic, is being well received on the festival circuit.

The film has won over two dozen nominations and eight awards, including the ‘Best Director’ and the ‘Audience Choice Award’ at the Direct Monthly Office Film Festival, stated a press release.

Titled, “The Interview from Hell,” the film is an office comedy which focuses on the experience of interacting with crazy and weird people at work and wondering who hired them, said Katyal, who also stars in the film.

The satirical comedy revolves around the interview of a candidate named Tom by a polite interviewee, Eve.

Kaytal shared that the idea for the storyline struck her earlier this year when she was working tirelessly on her finance job and had some interesting interactions. She shared it with her friend Michael, who, she said, wanted to put this from the perspective of someone who was job hunting himself.

“I loved the idea and asked him to put a draft involving his experiences. Michael wanted to make fun of this and write dialogues that only he wishes he could say in interviews. We particularly got stuck on one mocking question the interviewers love to ask: ‘Where do you see yourself in five years.’ We wonder how managers in a capitalist society expect job applicants to have five-year plans. It’s especially absurd because we work in a world where any one of us could be fired or laid off at any moment, no matter how well we are performing in our jobs. Yet, hiring managers expect to hear how we are willing to commit our lives to the firm,” said Katyal, who serves as the sole producer.

“Additionally, when you work some place long enough, you might have gone through a process to get your position. But then they hire some guy who’s completely insane. You wonder, ‘Did he have to go through the same process I did?’” added Katyal.

The story was originally written for a play but has now been adapted into a short film. The script was presented and was well received by audiences at the National Writers Union in New York City and the Mystery Writers of America, she said.

The film’s title, too, went through several iterations until she realized that a dialogue from Eve in the story best describes the film.

“The pandemic which then followed gave the title that interesting edge of how people are going through their own version of hell during these hard times,” Katyal said.

The short film was shot in March in New Jersey in a private office and the postproduction took two and a half months. The film will be released on multiple platforms in 2021.

“Due to Covid-19, everything was shut down and our processing of the script became impossible,” said Katyal. “We had to connect to our network of friends in editing, adding background music and finessing it to submit to film festivals.”

Katyal’s 2019 production “U&Me” has been picked up for distribution by BeBop Channel and will be available on RokuTV, Hulu, Vudu and Amazon TV, added the press release.

Katyal, now based in New York, moved to the U.S. in 2016 on a scholarship to study at Drexel University. She is actively involved with the Chelsea Repertory Lab at the Acting Studio where she trained in Meisner Technique and has been a part of off-Broadway theatre festivals. 

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