Dual projects for media duo

Kashif Pasta (left) and Shyam Valera (right). | Photo by Marianne Meadah, SFU

Kashif Pasta (left) and Shyam Valera (right). | Photo by Marianne Meadah, SFU

Kashif Pasta and Shyam Valera of Dunya Media have hit it big with their entry into Telus’ StoryHive entitled ‘Welcome to Surrey’. StoryHive is a community powered funding program for new content creators.

The annual competition welcomes applicants from Alberta and B.C. to take part in creating their own web series. The winner in each province receives a $10,000 dollar grant to finish their series and expand their stories.

The path to StoryHive

When asked why they decided to put their project forward, Pasta explained that it wasn’t always in the plans for them. While they had heard of StoryHive, they hadn’t considered submitting their work before. They changed their minds after speaking with Prem Gill, the CEO of Creative B.

“She used to be at Telus and was aware of StoryHive and was aware of us, and really encouraged us to go for it. She really thought it would be a good fit. It was really great having someone who knew what they were doing telling us to go for it,” Pasta says.

The competition had two parts. The first was a surprise when the duo realised they only had a few days to get their documentation, video pitch and voting campaign up and running. After becoming one of the top 30 submissions, Dunya Media was then given a budget of $1,000 to create their pilot.

The known and the unknown

Welcome to Surrey follows the story of Suneet, a law student studying in Toronto, who comes home to Surrey to take care of her ailing father. After reconnecting with past friends and flames she is forced to choose between the known and the unknown.

“The idea came about when we were students at SFU. One of our friends moved to Montreal for about a year and he was one of the most enthusiastic guys you could know. In our old high school, there is literally a spirit award named after him. When he came back from Montreal there was a reverse culture shock for him. Everyone experiences it when you move away from home. You come back and you feel like you’ve changed but the place hasn’t really. That’s where the idea stemmed from and we took it from there,” Pasta explained.

Background influences

Growing up in Surrey, with a really large South Asian population, it was a bit different. Technically I grew up as a minority but in my locale I’m not really one, so you do have that mixed experience,” says Pasta.

Although the project’s primary location is Surrey, the premise can be translated to any small town in any part of the world. What makes this experience different however, is the diverse and culturally expansive experience that Vancouver has to offer.

“We grew up in a place where people have Bollywood music and Kanye West on their iPod and that’s a uniquely Canadian thing,” Pasta explained.

Although they did not get to make their series through Telus, Dunya Media is still working on getting their series funded through a number of different avenues.

Looking ahead

Expanding on what they’ve learned from their initial project, the duo has used this experience for their upcoming project: Dunya Health. Realising that the South Asian population in their locale had a lot of health information that was not delivered in an engaging manner, Dunya Media’s new project, which is described as a “Bill Nye meets Buzzfeed” show for South Asian seniors, addresses issues that are prevalent in the South Asian community in a fun and interesting way.

For more information, visit www.dunya.ca.