Himalayan Tsunami – A Mobile Film Community Story

Who is your best friend? Who is your best friend when you need to get across town? Your car. Who is your best friend when everyone is mad at you? Your dog. Who is your best friend when you need a camera? Your phone!

How handy it is to have a phone with a camera in your pocket when something erupts right in front of you or around you?

Shiva Prasad has a wonderful story to share with us. We showcased his documentary, Himalayan Tsunami in San Diego at the International Mobil Film Festival™ where all films are shot with only mobile phones. The film was submitted to MFF2014 under the Community Stories category and it won our festival’s second place honor. The film was selected by a panel of judges and was presented as a documentary film. Shiva had no prior experience with filmmaking either behind the camera or editing video.

Shiva Prasad On Location

The story told by a man and his smartphone is well done. It tells a story as it unfolds with the recounts of Shiva Prasad himself during an interview of his experience during the event that unfolds before us. Shiva guides us through the journey which he endured at first by accident and later by choice. A true documentarian with journalistic flair capturing footage of a tsunami taking place in his homeland, the Himalayas.

This story begins as Shiva went to visit the Himalayas to write a script for a film.

“Uttarakhand is a beautiful Himalayan state in India. It is also known for its famous pilgrimage destinations named as Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath ,Badrinath and Hemakund sahib.”

“I am enjoying my time in Himalayas and capturing the beauty on my mobile phone. After some time the weather turned bad and devastation occurred. Major devastation occurred at Kedarnath and Gangotri. I was stranded near Gangotri.” Shiva told us he got scared when he figured out that he was in the middle of a tsunami.

“There is no trek route back to base camp. I prayed to God for my survival and he answered my prayers. I faced rough weather and crossed tough terrain to reach base camp.

We asked Shiva if he was a filmmaker before this experience. “I survived Himalayan Tsunami and made a realistic film on it and won a prize in MFF one of the prestigious Mobil film festivals in the world.”

“Himalayan Tsunami made me a filmmaker.”

Shiva Prasad Production On Camera

Although he was not an experienced filmmaker, yet…why did he decide to stay behind and make a film instead of leaving when he had a chance?

“After spending four days in deeper Himalayas and filming our survival, I returned to base camp with other pilgrims and trekkers. From here I have to reach helipad to go out of the state. I reached helipad and saw thousands of people of all ages are waiting for their turn to go home.

I gained confidence and felt that I can go home easily. One evening while spending time with pilgrims and Army people, I got an idea that I make a good documentary on this rescue mission and also a wonderful opportunity to make a realistic documentary. I thought that I should film this rescue operation known as operation ‘Surya Hope,’ the largest rescue operation in the history of India. Even when my turn came Ii refused and preferred to be stay and film it.”

When it came to actually recording the events not many people had any idea he could make a good video with a mobile phone (Samsung Galaxy note 2). He said even the army folks didn’t know that his phone had an HD camera and were stunned at the quality when he showed it to them. Most people, he said, were very cooperative and willing to share their plight with him.


Okay so what were the limitations of using a mobile phone’s camera?

“Most of the footage was shot Hand held only I missed some static shots of Himalayas and rescue operation. It was unplanned and I didn’t carry Tripod.”

There were also benefits to using his phone to film.
“Thanks to the invention of high end Smart phones (especially Samsung) which are capable of recording Full HD professional videos. It’s got more advantages than a video camera in terms of filming, compatibility with formats, portable and supportive tool for people who love to make feature films, music videos and documentaries.”

So what about post-production problems? None. He said he did not encounter any.

When it comes to showcasing a mobile film, since that is a big part of filmmaking, we asked Shiva Prasad if he realized he would be able to showcase his film on a big screen in a film festival.

“I had no idea about exhibiting my film at a film festival on a big screen to a wider audience until I connected with Susan Botello on LinkedIn®. She encouraged me and supported me to participate in the Mobil Film festival.”

“I am happy that I discovered and proved that Mobile Filmmaking is an upcoming genre and also planning to shoot a commercial feature on Mobile phone Samsung Galaxy Note 3. It offers 4k resolution camera for 1/10 th cost compared to other professional video cameras. Huge Savings in terms of production budget. Easy for Multi camera setup. Easy for filming and compatible with all professional formats.”

Shiva told us he plans to go back and film a second part to his documentary film, Himalayan Tsunami at the end of this year. We wish him the best of luck and yet another wonderful experience making a mobile film documentary.

Shiva Prasad On Camera

You can watch the film and congratulate him on his win at MFF2014.

Community Stories is a year-round program created by S. Botello Productions as a part of the Mobile Film Resource Center which includes the International Mobil Film Festival™ in San Diego.