Filmmaker to capture millennials’ digital spirit

By: Eric Czarnik | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published February 4, 2013

 West Bloomfield native Melissa Balan is raising funds to direct an independent film called “Sanskriti” about the millennial generation and technology.

West Bloomfield native Melissa Balan is raising funds to direct an independent film called “Sanskriti” about the millennial generation and technology.

Photo provided by Melissa Balan

WEST BLOOMFIELD — A plan to develop a film about the millennial generation’s international experiences with technology is using the Internet to raise funds for the project.

West Bloomfield native Melissa Balan hopes to direct her documentary, “Sanskriti,” while taking her film crew on a 2 1/2 month world tour. The film will take a close-up look at five young adults in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia and their experiences with a digital world.

“We are planning on spending about two weeks in each of the places,” she said. “My crew and I are planning on being completely ingrained in their day-to-day lives.”

While the crew plans to stay in hostels and take little more than film equipment with them, the expenses are still steep, she explained. They hope to raise $35,000 to finance the food, lodging, equipment and transportation needed to make the film. Balan is using the crowd-funding website to secure funds.

Balan, 22, currently lives in New York City, and she enjoyed film as a hobby while growing up in West Bloomfield. She took video classes at West Bloomfield High School, moved to New York in 2008 and graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2012 with a degree in film and TV production.

“I was always completely in love with movies when I was a kid,” she said. “I would have my parents drive me to Blockbuster multiple times a week.”

Balan said she brainstormed the idea for the film last summer while she was volunteering in Ghana. She explained that “Sanskriti” means culture, and she wanted a foreign title to reflect the cultural diversity explored in the documentary.

When fully finished, “Sanskriti” will tell the story of how technology like the Internet has changed the lives of five people who live in the U.S., Kenya, Finland, China and India. Balan said all of the subjects fall into the millennial generation, which she defined as people born from around 1980 to 2000.

Balan said she found the subjects for her work by searching for blogs online from interesting people around the world. “It was hours and hours and hours of research,” she said. “The ones that I ended up using for the film were very enthusiastic.”

Balan said she was fascinated by the similarities among the different young people she has contacted and interviewed so far — especially a few of the guys who come from technology backgrounds. “I think if they met each other, they’d all be excellent friends,” she said.

“Sanskriti” producer Margaret Reville is also a recent NYU graduate. She said she met Balan at a film shoot about a year ago, and they soon became close friends.

Reville called Balan a talented writer, an excellent coworker and a great director.

“We have a lot of fun collaborating, and realizing that, besides that, she’s helped me out with a few projects of my own, I agreed to produce her first feature film — ‘Sanskriti,’” she said.

“If anyone has the capability to pull off a project of this caliber, it’s Melissa.”

See the plans behind “Sanskriti” at or find the fundraising website at