Stories of Inspiration: Project Mars Winners Divya, Subigya & Mayukh

Divya Mayukh Subigya

Through the hundreds of submissions to the Project Mars competition, we witnessed incredible displays of creativity – but only a few students could win for their imagining of our Mission to Mars. Led by SciArt Exchange and NASA, Project Mars gave students across the country an opportunity to envision our future on Mars through an original short film or poster.

Over the next month, we’ll hear from some of our winners about what inspires them in their art and what excites them about future journeys to Mars.

This week, we checked in with the Grand Prize winners, Mayukh Goswami, Subigya Basnet and Divya More from New York, who created a stunning animation, “Rendezvous with Mars.” The story follows a young woman on her journey to the Red Planet, and the events that inspired her and empowered her to complete her mission.

Check out their stories below and be sure to catch their short film!

1. What inspired you to get into filmmaking?

Divya: I grew up in Mumbai. I was surrounded by cinema, cinema lovers and stories from a very young age. I live amongst so many people and the city has instilled a sense of empathy in me which I think is most essential to be a storyteller.

Subigya: The idea that visual media has the power and potential to shape people’s perspective inspired me to get into filmmaking.

Mayukh: I love storytelling in general. I’m fascinated by how stories can shape our culture, create movements and are instrumental in mythmaking. Filmmaking happens to be the most compelling medium that is available to us at the moment.

2. Which director is your biggest influence?

Divya: I specialized in film during my undergrad. Over the years I have been exposed to and have grown to love and be inspired by many films and filmmakers. Today where I stand, Abbas Kiarostami cinema is what I am inspired by the most.

Subigya: Steven Soderbergh

Mayukh: For me, it would be Andrei Tarkovsky and Hayao Miyazaki. I love how Miyazaki fills the space between spoken words and Tarkovsky absolutely kills me with the way he chooses his subject matter and compositions.

3. If you had the honor to name the first rocket to Mars, what would you name it?

Divya: Marilyn.

Subigya: Omkar

Mayukh: Bebop

4. If you could have one actor or actress star in your film, who would you choose?

Divya: Aubrey Plaza

Subigya: Radhika Apte

Mayukh: I don’t know, there’s just so many of them that I want. Brian Blessed is definitely up there. I’m mostly thinking from a voiceover perspective, mind you.

5. What excites you most about travelling to Mars?

Divya: The silence and the view

Subigya: Venturing into the unknown.

Mayukh: I’ll be happy to get out of all the pollution. Jokes aside, we really need to become an interplanetary/interstellar civilization as an insurance against the destruction of our species. Mars is the first step.

6. How did you learn about the Project Mars competition?

Divya: Mayukh and I have been wanting to collaborate for a while. He told me about this competition and I knew this was the perfect opportunity for us to explore what we can co-create.

Subigya: Mayukh and I have been collaborating in multiple projects for over a year now. We had been for the lookout for opportunities to create films throughout the year. I found about the competition from him.

Mayukh: I have this friend, Sara Camnasio, who is a space junkie and a NASA fangirl. She is the one who told me about this competition.

7. Who and what would you bring on your journey to Mars?

Divya: My brother & my boyfriend are my two most favorite people in the world, to travel with. I would probably carry lots of films to watch and books to read on the journey and my PS4 console.

Subigya: I would love to bring my girlfriend for the journey. I cannot even imagine how life-changing that experience could be, and cannot think of anyone else to share that with than her. I would like to bring Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harrari, my ukulele and a lot of TV shows.

Mayukh: I might bring along my cat, Cain. A cat in zero gravity would certainly be amusing.

8. What is your earliest memory of science or science fiction?

Divya: When I was about to start my second grade, my mother explained the solar system to me by putting together a 3D model of it. It had all these lights and details. I have never forgotten what I felt at that moment. I realized the expanse of everything for the first time that day.

Subigya: I think it has to be the tv show Small Wonder.

Mayukh: I first got into Sci fi after reading the book Sphere by Michael Crichton while I was still in school. There was this conversation about how difficult it is for us to imagine what an intelligent life with a completely different evolutionary background would look like. That blew my mind.

9. Who is your favorite character from science fiction?

Divya: There are so many. There’s Neo from Matrix, there’s Clementine from Eternal Sunshine, there’s Louise from Arrival, Eve & Wall-E

Subigya: Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Mayukh: HAL 9000. Hands down.

10. Aliens???

Divya: In all probability!!

Subigya: Definitely. Only a matter of time before we find out more.

Mayukh: Fermi’s paradox makes me skeptical that we’ll ever find intelligent life. If we ever do, I suspect that we’d be more like the invading aliens that we love to see in our movies. Nevertheless, I’d be bursting with excitement if we were to find microbes on Mars or Titan.