Richie Mehta

Richie Mehta
Affiliation: 
Alumnus
Place of Birth: 
North York, ON
Graduation Years: 
2001
Department / Division: 
Art and Art History

I really got to know people and become close; we grew with each other. It was a special moment in time.

Richie Mehta

Filmmaker Richie Mehta knew that he didn’t want to attend film school right out of high school “because I knew I wasn’t ready to make films yet, since I hadn’t lived.” Instead, he chose U of T Mississauga’s joint program (with Sheridan) in art and art history as an opportunity “to practise art while getting academic exposure.” He also added a minor in cinema studies at the St. George campus to his credits.

“I didn’t put any pressure on myself, I was just learning and participating,” he says. “It was the best thing I ever did.”

Mehta commuted to UTM from his family’s Mississauga home, a location where he spent little time during his undergraduate years, between classes and extra-curricular activities. His after-hours focus was the Medium, the student newspaper, where he began as a film critic and rose to become editor-in-chief.

“My entire social life became taken up by the paper,” he says. “It was so much fun, and we took it very seriously.”

For Mehta, who was focused on visual studies, the paper allowed him to “meet a group dedicated to storytelling in a different manner” and he credits his newspaper experiences for his script-writing prowess today.

Upon graduation, Mehta entered Sheridan College’s new film production program and made a number of experimental short films. One of them, Amal, earned him entry to a number of international film festivals and connected him to a large network of filmmakers of Indian heritage.

“I’m culturally connected now and have a world of support,” he says, which helped him compensate for the loss of community students feel upon graduation.

Mehta travelled worldwide with Amal and pitched it as the basis of a full-length feature to the Canadian film industry. He got the go-ahead and produced a singular film that earned dozens of international awards.

“I was lucky to be in Canada,” he says. “There is a system; they want to help first-timers.”

His feature-length treatment of Amal was shown at TIFF and was sold for distribution, opening doors for other films. Today, “I’m in the lucky position that people come to me with interesting projects,” Mehta says. “Most of my time is spent writing and fundraising.”

And he thanks UTM for all of the writing experience that he didn’t realize he’d need.

 

Selected Awards:

Desmond Parker Outstanding Young Alumni Award, UTM, 2016, for contributions to excellence in profession and in community service.

Feature film, India in a Day, made its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, 2016

Feature film, Amal, 2013, garnered more than 30 international awards, received six Genie nominations and was named one of the top Canadian films of the decade by Playback magazine.