Sharmila Ray
Director of Film & Video/
Production Designer/
1st AD


Sharmila Ray

Director of Film and Video / Production Designer / 1st AD

Echo Park, Los Angeles, CA



What do you do?

I’m a film and video director. I direct and create concepts for short films, web stuffs, commercials, documentary, music videos and feature films.

This process starts from concept to completion… meaning I start with a pitch or a script, develop the project from finding talent and crew then directing the project and oversee the editing/post process.   

When I am not working on my own projects I love being on set, so I also work in production as a production designer or various jobs in the art department such as a set dresser or prop master.  As a production designer I am responsible for the overall look of a project, art department budget, logistics and staffing the team.  As a prop master and set dresser I just shop for the props that are needed for a project and decorate the set per the needs of the production designer and director.

I also work as a 1st Assistant Director in which I am responsible for the coordination of the overall production.  I dissect a project and figure out the best scheduling for filming based on location, talent, gear and time of day - all the variables and pitfalls of a project and find a way to make a project come to life while making sure everyone eats lunch and doesn’t kill themselves.  I’m mostly the timekeeper when working this position!


Whew! Sounds awesome. Which particular piece are you most proud of?

I just finished my first feature film which we are working on distribution… you can view the trailer here: 

I really like the music video piece “Let Go” By Luke Janella: 


I also really like my super short called “Float”:

17 magazine was my first client so i’m proud of that work: 


If you have multiple jobs and/or skills, which one do you wish you could do more often?

My problem is that I have always had multiple skills which made it hard to figure out what I really excel at. I decided that I wanted to become a director because of this problem.  I always wanted my hands in the cookie jar, I just couldn’t figure out which cookie I wanted. As a director I can make the cookies and even the jar.  


Give us a specific example of how you do your job like a BOSS.

When I get a project I get excited about finding talent and crew to best fit.  It is like fantasy football but with my talented friends.  Details, Details!

I’m still a big fan of writing everything down.  I usually brainstorm and make a lot of lists then once all my thoughts are down on paper I review everything then I start spreadsheets and create mood boards on pinterest.  Finally I usually draft up a treatment for the team to review and then can add to.  

Do you have any tools you use to keep track of all the details?

Gdocs is my best friend… I create all my treatments and spreadsheets on it because it makes it easy to share with a team. Celtx I use for script writing.

I then itemize and start planning all the needs with my department heads - Color ways and look with wardrobe- decorating and props with the production designer and then lighting and camera movement with my director of photography; working with talent on motivation and acting finally logistics and location scouting and budget with producers.  It’s moving pictures… so you have to think about all the details.  The best is when you get to set and you see everyone excelling in their tasks and jobs, being on a good set is like being a part of a well oiled machine there is no cogs out of place.  Finally the finished product… When edited and finished you can’t believe how much work went into 5 minutes of screen time, when it looks effortless to the client or audience on screen you know you did well.

What is frustrating you right now? What is making your job/business/project hard to move forward?

Self motivation.  Not enough hours in the day. $$$.

What are you putting off right now, but you know you have to get to, but you haven’t had the time?

Putting together my directors reel and sending collaboration emails to people that I admire and want to work with… I get shy…

You don’t sound like a shy person  ;) … Give us three people you’d love to meet and work with and why? Go for it!

Keanu Reeves… uh because it’s Keanu… and who wouldn’t want to meet their teen crush! Cary Fukunaga because he is my current crush and truly loved his work on True Detective and Jane Eyre and I wouldn’t mind shooting the shit about how he pulled off at amazing one shot on episode 4 and how he landed an HBO gig.

Having a one on one with Catherine Hardwicke because she started off as a production designer then moved into directing which is the path that I am on right now.

If you could hire someone for $20/hour, what would you have them do to make your day easier?

Research, PR and project management. I would love for someone to tell me who I should be looking out for and network with.  I want to stay with the creative side and not have to worry about social media or how to deal with the strategy of it.  I spend a lot of time on Instagram and FB and that can get overwhelming as it is.  I am also really great when it comes to planning a scheduling/organizing other peoples lives, but I could use a good kick in the pants sometimes. Oh and websites stuffs, It takes me forever to build website stuffs, so I would love someone to deal with that.  

To work on the website you currently have or new websites for future work?

It would be great to have someone help maintain and add to current sites while help build new sites for new projects.  

What are you working on right now?

I have a feature film that I am developing called N vs. S which is a landscape piece that takes place in Central California that follow the lives of brother and sister’s destructive relationship and the idea of perceptions.  

I am also developing a creative platform based around rejection- I have had a lot of rejection in my life, but if I didn’t have those experiences I would not have been able to open another door.  I have some scripts that I wrote a while back so I want to direct them and then start a site where people can talk about their experiences and how they then flipped the switch and turn those rejections into a positive.


This is so rad. It’s so important for future generations to understand that rejection can be turned around into something positive. Great message!


What kind of opportunities/projects are you looking for right now?

Collabo with local peeps that want to make video projects… I am looking to expand my commercial work portfolio.  I am also looking for producers and investors for future larger projects.


Describe your ideal client?

I love clients that actually trust me... and that have a good grasp on what they want and know how to vocalize their needs concisely.


Do you find that trust is an issue in your line of work? What’s the best way to gain someone’s trust, or how do you establish trust with a new client?

Yes, in my line of work trust is what gets you to move on to another gig.  When you gain the trust of a producer and director they will suggest you to other peeps. Since there is so much talent in LA with tons of people wanting to do exactly what you do what helps me stand out is that people know they can trust me with the budget, with creating their look and to give suggestions with creative critique honestly.  


Describe a client/job/partner you would rather not have. What are your deal breakers?

Mean and ungrateful people with no sympathy for the people that have been working hard for them.


What is your rate, retainer, or salary range? If it depends on the project, give us some examples of projects and the cost.

Depending on which job I have, I usually talk it over with the client about the actual workload and negotiate depending on the project.  There is usually have a day rate for production days.  Then I have rate for prep days and production materials and what not that get factored into cost…


How should someone approach you about working with you?

Just hit me up on my telly! 619.757.4966 or send me an email:


This member profile was originally published on December 2014.