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AIRDA NewsDesk

Message of the Month

March 2020

In conversation with Shiva Prasad
Award-winning filmmaker on mobile phones



Shiva Prasad is a Mumbai-based management graduate in international business. He chose filmmaking as his career, and has worked in Indian and British films. He also worked as a creative researcher for the Hindi feature film Irada, which won the Indian National Award in 2018. He has also been rated as a top photographer on Google Maps. As an extension to his passionate interest in anything smartphone, Shiva is an active stock video producer for leading stock agencies across the globe.
Shiva tasted success as a filmmaker in the year 2013, when he was stranded in the Uttarakhand flash floods. He managed to survive that and captured nature's fury in great detail on his smartphone. (That was all the shooting kit he had with him at that point.)

Shiva has filmed a 20-episode television series on India's holy river "Krishna", with his smartphone. And Samsung, too, was inspired to produce a promotional video about Shiva Prasad's creative journey in movie making.

For our Message for the Month feature we chatted with Shiva on his personal journey, and how people on vacation can take better pictures and videos on their smart phones. (This is the first segment in a two-part series of interviews.)

When did you discover the true potential of shooting high-quality videos with mobile phones?

To answer this, I may have to remind you of India's worst natural disaster in Uttarakhand – the year was 2013 and the event was also known as Himalayan Tsunami.

I had gone to Uttarakhand, keen on exploring the beautiful Himalayas – also on my mind was a script for a movie story. My initial days were like a dream come true. I trekked to a place known as Gaumukh, the source of the holy Ganga - capturing the beautiful Himalayan peaks, the river itself, and other natural visual highlights along my route. Every now and then I was checking my footage only to be stunned to see the amazing visuals captured by my small mobile phone.

The beauty of the visual panorama continued the next day as well. The entire hamlet was carpeted with crystal white snow. Instinctively I reached for my phone to capture the natural beauty around me. But grandeur of the spectacle was short-lived - weather conditions soon turned rough and I was right in the middle of the tsunami.

That’s when I decided to do what was best in the situation. I survived, volunteered and filmed a spontaneous documentary on the disaster with my phone, and titled it: Himalayan Tsunami. Later I was officially introduced as a mobile filmmaker by various mobile film festivals across the globe.

My footage on the Himalayan Tsunami demonstrated that professional documentary films can also be made with a smartphone. The documentary won the second prize in the prestigious International Mobile Film Festival in San Diego. I was the finalist at the Olleh Film Festival in South Korea.

The euphoria continued, as my film was also nominated at other mainstream film festivals, in addition to being part of smartphone film festivals in Australia, Canada, USA, Argentina, South Korea and Mexico.

There are 26 popular mobile film festivals in the world which showcase films shot with mobile phones – giving people like me a stage and an audience to display my craft.

Have you found your best platform yet, in terms of the ultimate phone?

Newer versions of popular models are capable of capturing high-quality videos and images. Samsung recently launched the S-20 mobile phone with a professional quality camera sensor, 108 megapixels, and other first-time features. It also records true cinematic footage in 24 frames per second, in 8k resolution - which is a great feature for professional films and commercial movies.  It takes mobile filmmaking to the next level.

Mobile phones of the future may also take the bar higher in terms of multiple camera lenses, and other inbuilt creative features like video stabilization, variable frame rates, multi-camera resolutions, and advanced exposure control settings.

The future landscape of photography and filmmaking will be dominated by mobile phones - they are easy to use, easy to carry and always within reach in an instant.

Are you planning a video on your journey from aspiring film maker, to professional?

Currently, I am in the middle of a multi-continental feature film. If time permits I would love to share my journey - from aspiring filmmaker, to professional mobile film maker - with a wider audience in mind.

One can find inspiration in my 9000 scenic images (also shot on my mobile) on Google maps.  Google has praised my efforts and rewarded me with free storage space on Google drive. I was also rated as a top photographer on Google maps, with 60 million views. 

To inspire mobile filmmakers around the world, I have a dedicated channel on YouTube with videos captured on my mobile phone.  I also have an exclusive video portfolio on POND5 – one of the world’s leading video stock agencies.

Have you heard of timeshare as a vacation ownership concept in India?

I have heard about timeshare vacations through advertising and social media. I can see that vacation ownership is popular among corporate professionals and high networth individuals. Club Mahindra comes to mind as they are popular with exciting offers.

I also see that many of Club Mahindra’s resorts are located in scenic locations across India. I would love to explore these properties to capture some “unique visual experiences” with my mobile phone.

But more importantly, I would love to share tips on taking better pictures and videos on a vacation – and your mobile phone is all that you need.

This interview is Segment 01 – please watch this space for Segment 02 of this interview.

Shiva Prasad / Useful Links

Video Footage

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