For 5 months during the end of 2016 and early 2017, I put all work aside to develop a screenplay.
I learned an important lesson - storytelling is hard work, and it takes dedication over a long stretch of time to understand the craft.
My money ran out and I had to return to client work. To get the juices and energy flowing again, I collaborated pro-bono with my old friend Eldred Tellis to make a movie on a rehabilitation clinic he manages in the hills near Pune.
The first half of 2016 was devoted to long term projects with the State of Architecture In India exhibit and Education World Magazine.
Mid-year, cinematographer/producer Indraneel Lahiri and I sat down and asked the magic question - if we had unlimited resources, what project would we undertake?
The answer was: a video to counter the message that consumption can make us happy.
We got busy identifying an angle, writing a script and roping in collaborators.
In the video, titled #EmbraceYourColor, we took on the racket of skin color creams and presented an idea that you could enjoy for free: self-love and appreciation come from within.
The project's success - a film festival win, coverage in several major digital news outlets, 30,000+ views - reinforced our core creative principle: intent is key.
Actors - Farah, Pinky, Rani, Sandhya
Writer, Director, Editor, Producer - Sidhant Mehra
Cinematographer, Producer - Indraneel Lahiri
Producer - Robin Chaurasiya
A year after starting up, Acumen offered us a unique challenge:
During a 2 day retreat, could we interview the CEOs of all their India portfolio companies on day 1, edit the video overnight, and screen the video at the closing celebration on day 2 of the event?
We said Yes! and got to work planning this 36 hour video project.
The video was directed and edited by Sidhant Mehra with cinematography by Malini Dasari.
A friend, the very passionate environmentalist Vivek Gilani, asked me to do a video on his organization Fair Conditioning.
The video, created using a mix of interview and stock footage, takes us on a visual journey across continents and landscapes to illustrate his team's unique approach to battling climate change in India.
FEB 2015 - ISRAEL
In early 2015 my best friend cajoled and bribed me into joining him for a 17 day hike through the Negev Desert in Israel.
I brought my camera and made the movie above.
There was a man in Madurai who had built a huge rehabilitation home, with private funds that he attracted by virtue of his remarkable dedication and conviction.
I wanted to meet him and make a movie about him, so I took a series of buses from Mumbai to Madurai, and spent 3 days at his facility.
The footage resulted in the next short video, Brother's Keeper.
As I completed my first two practice videos, I began seeking clients. My goal at the time was to work for social causes.
A friend connected me to Aured, one of India's leading schools for the hearing impaired.
6 days of shooting + 2 months of editing resulted in 3 short videos and a high water mark for me in terms of what it feels like to work for a client who is appreciative, supportive, clear, and pushes you to deliver the best you can.
Aziza Tyabji, the founder of Aured, has remained a friend and mentor. She built Aured with great love, conviction, and inclusiveness. I was lucky to have her as my first major client.
Next I joined a friend, Abhishek Bharadwaj, as he facilitated an interaction between business executives and street-dwellers.
The idea was to build bridges between the impoverished and the wealthy. It was an interesting exchange, captured in the video above, Common Purpose.
I had been working as a freelance web designer for 3.5 years when my brother helped me buy a fantastic Canon DSLR.
I retired my Flip camera and started afresh on the hunt for interesting things to film.