What happens to a dream when it becomes reality?

Does it still exist somewhere, in some ethereal place, waiting to come to fruition again?

Could a fictional narrative capture an emotional state, and the true meaning behind a real, live event with more drama and conviction than a traditional documentary?

These were just some of the questions that arose when I took on the “CITY OF LAKES” project late last year. First, it would become an unprecedented attempt to combine a fully scripted, produced film with a real, live wedding (central to the plot) into one, seamless film. Second, the live wedding and production would be shot entirely on-location in Udaipur, India over a period of nine days. Third, the skeleton crew I would commission would be made up solely of live event filmmakers from across North America, who would shoot the live wedding events and production simultaneously & exclusively on DSLRs, the Canon 5D MarkII and Canon 7D.

The project would require a leap of faith first from Chicago natives, Melissa & Samir, who initially invited me to document their three-day destination wedding in Udaipur, India, while simultaneously considering a Bollywood concept they hoped to premiere at their reception. I quickly realized no concept film could rival the fairy tale wedding they had planned. So after pitching the idea to combine a scripted concept with their wedding film to produce a much more meaningful ‘hybrid’ feature, they deliberated, and finally took the leap. For that, I can’t thank them enough. It then took a leap of faith from my DP & Co-producer Patrick Moreau, who was skeptical, but eager, followed by talented wedding filmmakers Joe Simon & Casey Warren. Rounding out our team was my jib operator, Chris Geiger, Amish Solanki, and Mumbai-based super-producer, Pravin Thakur; a true miracle worker.

“CITY OF LAKES” is as much a documentary about what it means to return to the birthplace of one’s ancestors, as it is an exploration of the Hindu faith, and the rituals of a Hindu marriage. Central to this is the Ganesh puja, which in simple terms, is a prayer over a fire believed to invoke the spirit of Ganesh, a great deity and protector, who can remove all obstacles from one’s path. The puja is performed several times in the film and carries great significance to the plot and characters in both literal and metaphoric ways.

Melissa & Samir had always dreamed of being married in India. We hope this film helps them cherish that dream. But it could not have been without the acting talents of Anubhab Saha, Sharon Chawda and Rushad Rana, who were consummate professionals and a joy to work with. It also could not have been without the support of our sponsors: Canon, who provided two pre-production 7Ds and a host of L-series lenses; Tiffen, who provided all of our lighting; and Cinevate, who sent us much needed gear and sponsored an incredible behind-the-scenes campaign viewable at Cinevate.com.

The challenges were immediate, abundant and frequent. At times, we were certain the film was destined for failure; I wondered if the film was too ambitious to execute. It took the perseverance of filmmakers who deal routinely in making the spontaneous appear staged and constant script re-writes to adjust to the obstacles.

You won’t find many studios ready or willing to post a full length edit or main feature online for anyone to see; and for good reason. Event films are documentaries meant mainly for the people who lived them. But it’s with pride that we share Melissa & Samir’s ‘hybrid’ feature, “CITY OF LAKES,” which hopefully achieves more than a documentary, and perhaps at the same time, more than a scripted film.

There is a final question we hope you’ll find difficult to answer as you watch our film. In more ways than one, try to answer:

What is real?

Thanks for watching,

Pacific Pictures presents “CITY OF LAKES”
Starring Melissa Kumar, Samir Shah, Anubhab Saha, Sharon Chawda & Rushad Rana
Written & Directed by Kevin Shahinian
Produced by Kevin Shahinian & Patrick Moreau
Line Producer Pravin Thakur
Director of Photography Patrick Moreau
2nd Unit Director Joe Simon
2nd Unit Steadicam Casey Warren
Film Editor Kevin Shahinian
Jib Operator Chris Geiger
Set Photographer Amish Solanki

Relevant links:

“City of Lakes” on Cinevate.com

“City of Lakes” cover story in EventDV Magazine

An article by DP, Patrick Moreau of StillMotion

“City of Lakes” article on DVinfo.net

Interview on Crossing the 180 with Ron Dawson

Interview on 16×9 Podcast with Carl Olson

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  1. Jon McKee says:

    Outstanding work. It was a pleasure to view at the premiere on the big screen and a joy to see again on the web. Congratulations Kevin, Patrick, Joe, Chris, and the rest of the crew, cast, and of course Melissa and Samir.

  2. Kaipo Schwab says:

    Omg. Jaw droppingly awesome. The early reviews do not do it justice. It’s beyond what I imagined. Congrats to you, P., Joe, Casey, Amish and everyone else involved. Incredibly inspiring!

  3. It’s every bit as good as I was hoping! Totally drawn into it. Great story, directing, visuals, audio….
    Well done Kevin and the whole production crew.

    p.s. I’ve written this after having only seen the first 10 mins :)

  4. Dario says:

    Simply… WOW!!!!!

  5. Amank Sandi says:

    Kevin, you are my idol !!!

  6. Joel says:

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant. Great cinematography, story, talent, production, editing, sound, music, color grading…awesome. You guys are inspiring a whole new group of cinematographers and storytellers…this film sets the stage for a rise in the tide within the industry. A whole new perspective of wedding films has been born in me. Thanks for sharing this inspiring film with us!

  7. D&A Films says:

    Amazing, absolutely beautiful!

    Thank you for posting this Kevin!

  8. Bill Vincent says:

    Kevin & crew, this is an amazing work. I’ve read with great interest all of the trials and challenges you have talked about around the making of this film. You all rose to the challenges and have produced a work worthy of all the praise you will surely get from it. My congratulations to you all, and to the Bride and Groom as well. Your work is an inspiration to myself and many others, and serves as a beacon for what is possible given the right attitude and hard work. Pop the Champagne, Kevin!!

  9. John Miller says:

    Wow - just incredible. This is huge moment. Congratulations, and thanks for inspiring our industry!

  10. Tom Markiewicz says:

    I am lost for words. This was absolutely amazing and touching. God has really blessed you with an amazing talent. Very inspiring.
    Keep up the great work.

  11. david robin says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Aside from creating a true masterpiece, full of complexity, depth and inspiration, you have shown the world, and the entertainment industry, that the new breed of “Event Filmmakers” are a force to be reckoned with. This film is “huge” for all of us, and will go down in history. Bravo Kevin Shahinian.

  12. Kevin-Congratulations is such a weak word for your achievement. You are deserving of every accolade and future success that comes form this. Who knew that when you were in Chicago it would lead to this! The stars aligned for you my friend. God has blessed you with talent but more importantly the vision to use it. YOU are the new face of the event filmmaking industry but I know that our community won’t have you for long. I will pray that your talent gets to be experienced by a much larger audience. Once again, congrats to you and your crew for making your vision come to life and thank you for allowing us all to enjoy and prosper from the fruits of your labor. Now go enjoy the limelight…You deserve it my friend.

  13. Daniel Dunn says:

    Off the freakin hook guys. Kevin and crew, this is an unbelievable statement of creativity, hard work, and love. Thank You for doing this, I will watch it again, and be inspired over and over.
    It make me proud to be part of this industry of “wedding filmmakers” to see something like this.
    Thank You

  14. Cliff says:

    Simply spectacular! Totally blew my mind. Can’t even fathom the work and talent required to make this happen. Kudos.

  15. Matthias says:

    Blown away. This is the most inspired wedding video I have ever seen.

  16. Kevin, Patrick, Joe, Casey, Chris and crew… That blew my mind guys! Superb job all the way around. I’m literally speechless. Thank you for your talents that continually inspire and raise the bar! Now, where can I purchase a Blu-ray Disc?

  17. AMAZING wedding film!!! Quando vem para o brazil fazer um desses?

  18. Wow, It´s Inspiration!! congratulations filmmaker dream team.

  19. Incredible work, Kevin. The production value alone was out of this world. I can’t even begin to fathom all of the challenges a production like this, with such a small crew no less, would require. The melding of authentic and produced was handled so well. Just a beautiful piece of work overall and you should be very, very proud. Congrats to you and the entire crew and cast.

  20. Robert says:

    A film of unspeakable beauty, charm, and magic.

  21. Danial Haris says:

    I am so happy that you guys had pulled this off. It must have been really tough. Congratulations, you guys just pushed that level up again.

  22. Kevin…I mean…WTF?!!!!

  23. Geoff says:

    This is undoubtedly the most elaborate, intricate, amazing, fantastic, beautiful piece of cinematic wonderfulness all wrapped up in awesomeness…are there any other adjectives to describe how wonderful this is.

    An amazing feat…congrats!

  24. Andrew says:

    As I’ve said before… Simply amazing! Kudos for pulling this off!


  25. Geoff Boka says:

    Wow! That was so many levels of awesome! Not sure what to say actually. Amazing. Fight on!!

  26. Wow amazing stuff. Awesome stuff guys

  27. Kevin, This was the most amazing “wedding film” I have ever seen. It is so much more than a “wedding film” it feels like it was meant for the big screen. The whole cast did a great job acting especially the kids. Thank you for sharing. Keep up the amazing work.

  28. Laurent Desmetz says:

    I wish i could have seen it on the big screen. It was already beautiful and amazing via web. What must it have been at the Premiere in Las Vegas. Congratulations to all of you. An incredible work and an inspiration for all of us. Spectacular images and wonderful storytelling.

  29. Chris Dumlao says:

    Kevin, you are a bastard, I hate you! Hahaha.. just kidding. Dude, this.. is… amazing!!

  30. Simonfilm says:

    Amazing, amazing and amazing.

    Ps, have you shot using any specific picture style (neutral, superflat, extra flat, Marvels cine gamma, etc)?

    Thank you and congrats.!!!

  31. Shah Kamlesh says:

    Its simply superb, never seen before.
    I wish i could have seen on a big screen.
    Thank you for sharing this lovely video with us..

  32. Carlos says:

    Kevin congratulations on this amazing work, and thanks Canon for giving us, (all filmmakers) the possibility and the tools to dream as high as the mind of Kevin Shahinian, and be able to see our dreams come true as filmmakers in such amazing image quality, this is the future, free minds flying.

  33. Karpathia says:

    Congratulations on such a delightfull 28 minutes of a motion picture.

  34. John says:

    What do you think you were doing making a movie like this? Do you know what it is like for a 46 year old man to tear up in front of his computer!

    Absolutely a brilliant film…

    Thank you very much.

  35. Kitti says:

    OOO I can not open XR

  36. Angelo Evans says:

    I cried to the end…
    It was so inspiring!!!
    Congrats to everyone involved in this film.
    Pure perfection!!!

  37. A 10/10 quality movie!
    Really its a nice work on our city.

    Represents our city the best way it could.

    Would love to have a review HD Quality movie CD if possible.

  38. Absolutely Outstanding… Long may it continue!

  39. Congratulations Kevin - it was worth the wait after the promo to see this wonderful production.

  40. Luis Palha says:

    Overwelming. Paramount.

  41. Lupe Aguilar says:

    Thank you for sharing such a great master piece of filmaking … It was a touching story!

  42. Melissa Shah says:


    Thank you so much for providing this opportunity to Samir and I and our families. We haven’t been able to stop watching the film since it’s been posted. You’ve managed to tell the story of my dreams in a way that is better than I could have done on my own. Each time I watch it, I am still as emotional as I was on the actual day. I can’t wait to show baby Shah (and Shahs to come….) the movie that is the happiest day of my life. Thanks again to you, Joe, Chris, Casey, Patrick and Amish and to all your generous sponsors who made this film a reality!

  43. Gorgeous imagery, great storyline, perfectly executed.. Well done guys, I am thoroughly impressed..

    Love and Aloha, Kalani-

  44. VillageBoi says:

    Is that the most amazing thing ever or what? Wow, astonishingly beautiful!!

  45. Congratulations!!! Award worthy and definitely setting the bar absolutely higher! Can’t wait to see your next film.

  46. Alejandro says:

    Extraordinary. Just as the DSLR represent the convergence between photo and video, this work is the convergence between Documentary and Fiction in the field of weddings.
    I think wedding videos will have a before and after from this experience

  47. A good example of a nonlinear story, interspersed with great timing, never breaking the shift, good narrative, art design in harmony with its elements, color, texture, lighting and so on. The steering with a set of simple scenes but with good photography, good rhythm in the editing (action completed) but more important is the drama where the story creates emotions, taking us through ACTION - REACTION of the characters and shows us that to master the art of video, you need the study of literature and especially drama screenwriting. Weva = this is the best example for what is a love story and will be very difficult to copy because it is a unique love story. Greetings Kevin, keep in touch.

  48. Matt says:

    I can’t say enough about this. Such technical, aesthetic, emotive, and cultural story telling skill, executed with impeccable brilliance.

    Hands down the best wedding cinematography I’ve yet to see. Very ambitious.

  49. Sascha Heppe says:

    Thanks for this film.
    You bring wedding films to the next level.
    Very inspiring!

  50. Amazing film, very inspiring and great to see the cinematography that can be achieved with these cameras! Linked to this in my blog so more people can experience it! http://tjhblogs.blogspot.com/2010/10/aron-ralston-one-armed-climbing-8.html

  51. Sarah-Lee says:

    Speechless. I couldn’t help but cry at the end. What a masterpiece!

  52. Effect Lab says:

    I never seen this type of video… It is really very very amazing video. Amazing show of indian culture, wow.

  53. Carolina Shahin says:

    There is no one else I prefer for my wedding to be filmed by non other than Mr. Shahinian. I loved the film from the beginning to the end and it has left me to tears. Beautifully executed and visually stunning. This is indeed a masterpiece. You deserve world-wide recognitions for such gift to draw us in as if we were in the film. Congratulations!

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