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Filming The Universal Sport

Local filmmaker describes the creative process

Growing up in Roslyn, Shilpi Gupta was more interested in social studies and photography than in film or television. Inspiration from her teachers at The Wheatley School and forays into creative writing led to an eventual career in television editing and finally, film production. Gupta’s first documentary, When The Storm Came, one that she both wrote and directed premiered at the Sundance Film Festival garnering the Grand Jury Prize and was short-listed for the 2005 Academy Awards.


In 2010, Gupta followed that up with Changing The Game, a film that was shot at that year’s World Cup soccer games in South Africa. Currently, Gupta is involved in a fundraising campaign to have the film premiered at the 2014 World Cup games in Brazil. 


The idea for the film came from her involvement with Grass Roots Soccer, which led to Gupta’s further involvement with Football For Hope, an organizations whose teams played at the 2010 games. Watching Football For Hope in action gave Gupta “the right story” for a new film, one that she said would focus on how this popular sport can be used as a tool to teach social issues in a fun way.


“This film has been my labor of love, in some way, shape, or form, for nearly five years – since I first heard of soccer being used to empower youth to transform their lives,” Gupta said. “Our amazing team is working tirelessly to finish this film in time for the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil – where the next set of teens will follow our teens’ journey. We are racing against the clock, but no matter what we will do everything in our power to make this happen.”


When The Storm is set in a village in Kashmir and concerns a mass rape that afflicted its residents during a time of conflict. 


Meanwhile, for Changing The Game, Gupta was given a leave of absence from her work at CBS, where her duties have included editing CBS This Morning for Charlie Rose and Gayle King. 


A graduate of The Wheatley School, Gupta attended both Brown University and the University of California at Berkley, where she received both an M.J. in journalism and a M.A. in International Studies. 


At The Wheatley School, Gupta remembers Ms. Bogt and Dr. Van Wy as her favorite teachers. Both taught social studies and both inspired the young Gupta to do her part in helping to make the world a better place. Gupta especially remembers the creative ways that Ms. Bogt taught history, even bringing some humor into the infamous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.


It wasn’t until Gupta graduated from college that she began “thinking in film.” While working on creative writing pieces Gupta recalled that she began to “visualize [a] story in my head.” That led to desire to make documentaries, as in time she would combine journalism work with “dissecting film.” Among her work in that field includes Kim Snyder’s

Crossing Midnight, a film that highlights the unique solution of Burmese refugees’ to providing medical care for those on the run. Next year, the eyes of the world will be on Brazil for the World Cup and Shilpi Gupta hopes her film can play its own role in creating, at least for a time, the global that soccer provides.