Independent producer tells Tall Tales

(Photo by Kelly Chandler)

Culver City-based independent film producer Anmol Bajpai works at 21 Laps, the production company behind Stranger Things. However, his most recent and ongoing project is the independently-produced short film Tall Tales, which will follow a young girl’s adventure in a desolate post-apocalyptic future.

“I’m a 25-year-old Indian-American filmmaker and I graduated from USC in 2021, with a major in communications and a minor in cinematic arts,” Bajpai told the News. “After graduation, I worked as an independent filmmaker before taking a job at United Talent Agency (UTA), one of the leading entertainment agencies of Hollywood. With agency experience under my belt, I moved over to 21 Laps Entertainment, the production company behind Stranger Things and the upcoming film Deadpool & Wolverine. Working under Academy and Emmy award-nominated director Shawn Levy and producer Dan Levine, I’ve supported projects such as the recent hit Netflix series All the Light We Cannot See and the upcoming series The Perfect Couple starring Nicole Kidman.”

After graduating USC in 2021, Bajpai and director Lana Nguyen moved to Culver City from Downtown Los Angeles. 

“As students, we always admired Culver for its long historic significance in film/television production, hosting MGM and Sony Pictures Studios,” he said. “We now live near Downtown Culver, which has a vibrant art community with the famous Kirk Douglas Theater, The Ripped Bodice, and the Amazon Studios lot. This neighborhood serves as daily inspiration for us as aspiring artists.”

Tall Tales was initially developed by Bajpai and Nguyen when they were in the final year of film school, via Zoom classes. 

“It was the height of the pandemic, so naturally, she imagined what the world would be like if everything we knew was gone,” Bajpai said. “What small beauties would be lost? Initially, this story was conceived as a reflection of our collective grief and the newfound community we all experienced during the pandemic. Soon, it found its shape as an acknowledgement of the devastation recent global conflicts have dealt on the planet, and the loss of innocence so many young children face through them. Unfortunately, Lana was unable to direct this project as her USC senior thesis since the pandemic shut down all live production. However, we’re now finally bringing this project to life with this crowdfunding campaign. Though this story started four years ago, we believe it’s more important than ever to make it today.”

The plot of the film is intriguing: “When her mother dies, a young girl and her newfound companion embark on a journey to bring her back, guided by the ‘Old World’ myth that a birthday wish can make any dream come true. The year is 2541 and 12-year-old Adeline knows nothing other than a frugal existence in the desert. One night, her Mama tells her a bedtime story. In the ‘Old World,’ Mama says, people used to eat a magical, sweet treat called ‘birthday cake.’ When adorned with candles, and blown out, your very biggest wish would come true. When Mama dies in a dust storm, Adeline finds herself orphaned and alone… until she’s struck with a brilliant idea. If she can bake a cake, light some candles, and blow them out – she can wish for Mama to come back to life.”

Nguyen is the writer and director of Tall Tales, while  fellow USC alum Rhys Kroehler is a producer on this film alongside Bajpai. Tre’len Johnston is the cinematographer, and Justine Chen is the production designer. They are currently in the process of casting. Principal photography is slated to begin this summer, and they aim to complete post-production on the film by early 2025. 

“While we don’t have a firm release date yet, we will be taking Tall Tales on the film festival circuit through the next year before publicly releasing the film online,” Bajpai said. Along the way, we will be revealing casting news, film posters, trailers, and behind-the-scenes footage.”

When the shoot is complete, Bajpai will be attending the USC School of Cinematic Arts as a MFA production student this fall! 

“Following in the steps of my director Shawn Levy at 21 Laps, I will be continuing my journey as a filmmaker at USC as a graduate student,” he says. “As I take my next steps and complete Tall Tales in the coming months and years, I plan to continue working out of Culver City. ”

Find out more about Tall Tales at