Dhaka is one of the largest megacities in the world. Yet, if you browsed online, there are almost no videos that showcase it in a creative way. We wanted to change that and this is where the idea of "Amar Dhaka" was born.
My friend Sajeed & I started brainstorming about the project around October 2016. In another life, communicating from two different parts of the globe would have been a logistical nightmare. However, Facebook made it very easy. Who said Facebooking is a total time-waster?
The idea was to encapsulate as many elements of Dhaka as possible within a 2-minute video. We jotted down locations, shot ideas, themes, as well as transitions that may work. We ended up having a massive Trello Board (highly recommend for project management) that organized all of our random thoughts and ideas into a neat web interface.
Making it Happen
Right after the day I landed in Dhaka, we went to Buriganga river and started experimenting. Even though we had a "creative vision" on how we wanted the final project to be, just like the dark murky waters of Buringanga, it was unchartered territory for us. Fast forwarding 10 days of constant shooting from dawn to dusk (thank you jet lag), we had some interesting footage!
Editing can be a fun and frustrating process. I still remember editing my first video project in a friend's borrowed Macbook (that friend Ishtiake just got married- another crazy story!). It took me hours just to understand how the software worked and how to cut a clip. For this project, it was a different type of struggle. How do you edit something with no linearity or storyline? After sorting out the best clips from hours of footage, we started making progress and developed a pace for the edit. Just sheer persistence & experimentation, no magical technique to share with you, unfortunately!
After launching the video, we were overwhelmed by the response. It went viral on Facebook with 3000+ shares in a matter of days! People really connected with "Amar Dhaka" on a personal level and took pride in the city. For us, the most remarkable moment came when the video was Staff Picked on Vimeo. Vimeo is the go-to platform for video creatives from all over the world, and the Staff Pick category highlights the best work from thousands of uploads. From our knowledge, it was the first instance of a Vimeo Staff Pick project that was produced completely by a Bangladeshi crew. As (wannabe) filmmakers, what brought us the greatest joy is that we were able to show Dhaka city to the world! Amongst its many problems, Dhaka has a special place in our hearts and no matter where we go in life, Dhaka will always be home.