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Sri Lanka’s multi-skilled creative – Stefan Rajendran

3 months ago

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This week, we sat down for a chat with the filmmaker, video editor, public speaker, and storyteller Stefan Rajendran. Here’s what he shared.  Tell us a little about yourself. What can I say? I’m just another kid who believed in himself when no one else did. I love telling stories verbally and visually, and I love putting a smile on people’s faces through my content. I never had an ordinary childhood or school life. I always went against the norm, and I still do. I see and understand things in a very peculiar manner, hence my ideas are driven to be a little different from the usual. I’ve got this furious personality of wanting to learn more and grow more, which has led me to pursue multiple skills from a very early age, and most importantly – above everything — I’m a child of God. Tell us about the multiple skills you’ve acquired.  The skills I currently have would be DJing, public speaking (Toastmasters), videography, video editing, filmmaking, sound designing, acting, and creative content marketing. It took me 10 years to learn and start earning through these skills. I’m pretty much self-taught, I spent hours and hours researching and putting it to practice for almost a decade and I’m still learning different aspects of each of these skills. I’m very excited about learning more skills in coding and motion graphics in the days to come. As someone who has been the face of several well-known brands on TikTok, how do you go about creating engaging and creative content for marketing purposes? What are some best practices you would recommend? As I mentioned earlier, I see and understand things in a very out-of-the-box way. I’m able to take ideas and inspiration from whatever is trending and incorporate them into my own style of creativity and bring something exciting to the table, which I’m sure every creative is able to do at the end of the day. The best practice I would recommend to anyone trying to create engaging content is to be your authentic self. And tell a good story.   What are some of the challenges you have faced with TikTok marketing? The toughest challenges I face on a day-to-day basis with TikTok marketing are not getting the right engagement for an important piece of content and trying to get my clients to understand what works and why. It can be truly daunting and demotivating to see a video into which you put so much effort and creativity going down the drain, but it’s a part of the process on that platform and I don’t let that stop me from creating more. It can be a challenge trying to justify a Gen Z idea or trend to an organisation that’s new to the platform. How do you manage multiple careers while still finding time to learn new skills? The answer to this is very simple and straightforward. I love what I do, every single bit of it. I pretty much work all seven days from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. No matter how drained I am mentally and physically when I get to bed, I’m ready to do it all over again because I love what I do. It doesn’t feel like work, to be honest. How do you promote tourism through visual storytelling? I’ve had the greatest opportunity of working with YouTubers Shenelle Rodrigo and Shehan Tahir in promoting Sri Lanka’s tourism; they have been an exceptional inspiration to me as a creative and filmmaker. I’ve made the best use of every opportunity I’ve got from them to showcase my skills in visual storytelling. Whenever I travel, I make sure to capture the hidden visual stories of this island’s beauty and showcase them on my platforms while telling a story that creates that emotional bridge between my content and the viewer. Have you ever experienced creative blocks? How do you deal with them? Of course I have. I experience them most of the time when I get burnt out. The are several ways I deal with it, but the top three methods of mine are praying, taking a break, or hitting the gym. They work every time. There is a famous saying that goes “great stories happen to those who can tell them”. What’s your take on this, as a storyteller yourself? Every action has a reaction. The reason I’m here telling a story to all of you guys is because I decided to take action, not today not yesterday but 10 years ago. If I had given ear to all the voices that disapproved of my dreams, I wouldn’t be here telling this story. You need to know yourself and most importantly be yourself. Self-awareness is a skill and a superpower. I know this is going to sound cliché, but I firmly do believe that with great power comes great responsibility; there is no point in only hoping for the best, you must also put in the work for the best because great stories only happen to those who can tell them. What’s your take on the future of Sri Lanka’s upcoming young creatives? I know without a doubt that there is exceptional creative talent in our country, but they’re not given the right opportunity to prove themselves. Opportunity is given based on who knows who, at least from what I’ve seen. These people have the potential to bring so much foreign exchange into this nation if they are given the right tools and opportunities. Opportunity should be given based on skills and talent, not the follower count. To every young creative out there working hard, I say, be your own hero. Think differently, think big. Don’t limit yourself and keep learning on a daily basis. This is a long journey. Things don’t happen just like that. Surround yourself with like-minded creatives who will help you to grow and work as a team, you will start to see great things happen.  Everyone has a story to tell, and my dream is to tell those stories for them – verbally and visually. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Stories can and will change lives. PHOTOS © Shameem Ismail   
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