Meet the Insiders using tech to make a movie

The team with the Director, Vivek Elangovan (middle).

About two years ago, one of the members of the Windows Insider Program team, Vivek, gathered  a crew of his Microsoft tech enthusiast friends and decided to make a feature film using Microsoft products. This scrappy startup with very little funding had its world-premiere of their movie VellaiPookal – Dandelion at the Cinemark Lincoln Square in Bellevue, Washington on April 12.

The movie, which is in Tamil with English subtitles has an intriguing plot and a crazy series of twists that kept us all guessing. It was an honor for our team to attend the premiere, mingle with the movie stars, and of course, see the movie. But even more importantly, it was an honor to have our program and its technology support our coworker and friend’s pursuit of his dreams.

Meet the team behind the movie

Indus Creations is a media/performance arts group based out of Seattle that was created in 2005 by a group of software engineers from Microsoft who were passionate about the performing arts.

Thanks to the patronage of locals and generous volunteer hour matching from Microsoft, Indus has collectively raised over $300,000 for various charity organizations. The team has produced more than ten major theater shows and numerous short films, some of which have been screened at film festivals around the world. Navam won the best film award at the Bay Area Film Association short film competition, and Odam won numerous international Film Festival awards.

After the experience gained from theater and short films, the group set out on a moonshot to make this full-length feature film. This was possible only because of Microsoft’s core culture of empowering every employee to follow their passion and contribute to the community. They learned that, like software development, filmmaking is a serious business, involving a big crew, cast, funding, planning and collaboration.

Microsoft tech enabled Indus to reimagine the creative process of movie making. A 100+ member crew used Microsoft technologies to communicate, collaborate, and create this feature film. They cannot imagine being able to achieve this potential without Microsoft.

Making the movie with Microsoft’s tech

While of course Vivek was making the most of Windows 10 Insider Preview Builds and the team was using Surface devices, Microsoft Office was actually an extremely important part of his team’s toolset. Throughout the project, the organization and collaboration that Office provides was key.

The first step on any major project is finding your team, and making a movie was no different. This team used Office 365 Exchange and Outlook for their emails and Skype to communicate with their distributed team—including convincing three movie stars from India to star in the movie! These tools allowed them to communicate and work around global time zones.

Once they gathered the crew together, they started using OneNote for all their planning for the script, production, direction, and camera work.

Snapshot of their OneNote notebook with notes.

As their inventory grew, they started to use Excel to track all of their equipment, as well as their progress. It also became the primary tool they used to track their expenses and budget.

Inventory spreadsheet.

Once they’d begun filming, they needed to organize the footage somewhere that everyone could access it. OneDrive became their hub for files. It was heavily used for storing and sharing lots of documents, images, and movie stills in real-time between the cast and crew.

File folder with Excel spreadsheets.

When they were ready to share beyond their team, they turned to Azure to host their website and share raw video. When it came time to go to market, they used PowerPoint for promotion and planning their marketing.

PowerPoint with movie trailer.

 

VellaiPookal will be releasing in theaters in many cities this week. Watch the trailer now!