leena pendharkar

Mar 4

I shot this video back in 2012 but was stuck on it forever bc I couldn’t quite figure out the music, and how I wanted it cut. Finally, my husband, Ameet Mehta came up with a really dope track and I think it works…. Thanks also to editor Justin Zagri for bringing a fresh eye to it.

You Think It's About Magic But It's Really About Money


Like many people in the film industry, my mind this week has been on Sarah Jones. Sarah was a second assistant camera (the person who transports cameras and lenses, helps the focus puller take measurements to get the focus right and slates the take, among other things) who was killed by a…

Our new show #Mommyhood is getting off the ground with an incredible cast. We shot a pilot on Sunday and are so excited. The cast is fabulous with Grace Su, Sunny Mabrey, Monrok and Stefanie Seifer. Very excited to move forward with this!

Our new show #Mommyhood is getting off the ground with an incredible cast. We shot a pilot on Sunday and are so excited. The cast is fabulous with Grace Su, Sunny Mabrey, Monrok and Stefanie Seifer. Very excited to move forward with this!

New VDay short with a very cute kitty!

Sales Agents and the Nightmare of Getting Paid

For Raspberry Magic, we have a complex web of sales agents that rep the movie. One of our agents got us a deal with Starz for VOD/SVOD last fall which was amazing. The movie went live last Feb/March.

But our contract was for a $17,500 advance, to be paid out in 60 days. Over the course of the last year, I’ve asked the agent for a statement and for the fees we are owed and every time, he says it’s coming… But nothing. So in December, I decided that I was going to start emailing him weekly, and I have been doing so. But still, he keeps on saying it’s coming, but I haven’t gotten it.

This morning he said, “Leena: I can tell you from memory that we received less from the Starz deal than you think you’re owed.”

Yes, the point being, you got paid and I didn’t even though I spent five years of my life making this film. This is frustrating bc now I will have to get my lawyer involved which will cost more money. The math of this is terrible when it all comes down to it and honesty it’s all very disheartening.


Some Directing Lessons I’ve Learned

Sometimes it’s really easy as a filmmaker or artist to get caught up in wanting affirmation of success or seeing “results.” It’s especially easy to get caught up in that here in LA, where everyone wants to know who your manager is, or how much money you might be making on something. I’m guilty of this, and I find myself spiraling into a dark place when I often begin to ponder these things.

But recently, I popped Raspberry Magic into the DVD player, and was watching it and realizing how much I’ve grown as a filmmaker since making that movie. In other words, I can now see all of the places where I could have done better and more importantly. So here is my list:

1. You can’t meet with the actors enough. Seriously, rehearse, grab drinks, meet and connect. If you don’t do this, it will feel very awkward giving direction. Directing actors isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about collaborating, having a conversation and coming up with ideas. So the more you get to know your actors, the more you connect, the more you can create something cool together.

2. You can’t plan your shots out enough. Making a detailed shot list is important on paper. But I’ve actually found that for me, spending a lot of time in the locations, taking photos, and thinking like an editor is key. The more you can think through the puzzle pieces of the movie, the better it’s going to turn out.

3. Think through WHO is going to watch this. Because movies are an audience driven medium, it’s really important to know who is going to watch and where this is going to end up, because your directing choices will go in tandem with this. In other words, if you want your movie to end up in Sundance, cast the right sort of actors. Likewise, the shots and the visual palette should be in line with that. In think Raspberry Magic is a sweet film about a teen girl, but I really wanted it to be a more serious indie drama, which was silly. It’s light, it’s fun, it’s ok to have fun making it!

I didn’t really understand the film/movie/TV market when I first started making content, but I now have a much better/deeper understanding of it and think it’s crucial to know where something is going……

My point being that yes, tangible, measured success is great, but then again, all of the cool things you learn just help with the next project and then next project.

Why I Want to Dance more in 2014

First of all, I’m going to go ahead and say it. I love to dance. Seriously, when I was a kid, me and my sister took dance and gymnastics and we were obsessed. We danced all of the time. Then in my teens and through my 20’s, I went to clubs and raves and parties and danced. A lot. It was pretty much what I did for fun.

But since I hit my mid 30’s, had a kid and started to get “more serious” about life, my dancing has halted to be almost nonexistent. I really don’t go out much, and going to a club sounds… Complicated. But, I have been taking Cardio Barre, and though it’s not that sort of dancing, listening to catchy music and moving has been really, really refreshing. I realized, I miss listening to pop music and I miss moving my body.

So, in the evenings this fall, my husband was gone a few nights a week to a class, and I felt like I was just too tired to engage my toddler in anything complex… So one night I thought, we should just dance. So I started playing silly pop songs on YT, and told Amani we could only listen to the music if we danced. The whole time. I busted out Madonna, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry and silly music that I might otherwise be embarrassed to admit that I like :)

Amani loved it right away, and even grew to love some of the songs, like “Starbright” which she calls “the video with the lady in black dancing.” So we’d eat dinner and basically start our dance party. I found that this is was something really fun for me, because Ameet is the music guy in our house, and I don’t often get to share that side of myself and it was nice to bond with Amani in different way. We would just move, and she even got to practice her ballet a little. Then when Ameet came back into the mix, he liked it too and was down with my my silly pop songs.

Honestly, I found that moving a bit and listening to music is helpful for so many things, if not for just having fun and getting your groove on. So for 2014, I just want to dance a little more….. Maybe you can join us.

Happy holidays! We shot this short film on my new Sony A65! So excited to have this camera, it’s really a great little toy.

Reflections on 2013

A year goes by with a blink now days. It’s funny because when you’re a kid a year seems like forever. Now, it’s literally nothing.

Around this time last year, a lot of things were up in the air for me creatively. The So Natural sketches were supposed to be a show, but that didn’t work out. My new screenplay, Dandekar wasn’t working and I just didn’t have it in me to do revisions. I wasn’t sure of what exactly was next, but I knew I wanted to be prolific. And by prolific, I mean I wanted to make a lot of films and especially grow So Natural TV. I had a lot of things I wanted to make, like shorts plus a series, but these were all ideas. I had no idea how any of this would happen.

But I knew I wanted it to happen. It was like, after making the So Natural sketches, something just kind of clicked. I took control of my own creativity, and stopping waiting around for people to green light me. It sounds stupid, but for a long time, I was sending scripts out waiting for people to answer and blah blah blah. So, in 2013, I made stuff. A lot of stuff. Several short films, a series and even a beauty show.

I learned a lot. So much. I l confirmed how much I love directing, and collaborating with great people. I learned that building an audience on youtube isn’t easy, but possible. I learned that I love comedy, and that I can push myself to do cool things visually. I learned that when you look inward and focus on the work you want to do, you attract great people and things. It has really been amazing, and I want to carry on. So here’s what I want to in 2014:

1. Mommyhood. So, I’ve been writing “mommy related”sketches for the past couple of years, just sort of collecting them. I have so many, it’s basically a show. So, we are currently casting for the that show. It’s really exciting and a little nerve racking but we are looking at some great actors, and I am really looking forward to taking things to the next level.

2. More short films. The short pieces on So Natural are a little hard to promote, but I love shooting them, and hope to do a few more this year. I have a lot of ideas, but my brain is so focused on the show, it’s a little hard to think outside of the box… But I am excited to do it.

3. Dandekar. So, I put this script away for a long time. I loved the idea of it. but it really wasn’t quite working. Then in the fall, I got an opportunity to submit to the Sundance labs. I didn’t get in, but the possibility of getting in forced me to re-write the script. I almost didn’t bc I felt like it was too hard to tackle. But… I did it and finally, finally after really struggling with it for a long time, it’s better. It’s finally the script I want it to be. So, I want to take it slow, but I see the images in my head, I know what I want to do. I’ve just got to do it… And slow but surely, make it happen.

Excited by the possibilities.


Dec 8

Cute Vine of a penguin!