Sandeep Goyal
May 20, 2019

Thinking vertical: An Indian documentary wins at Cannes

An Indian documentary has won an award at Cannes Nespresso Talents 2019. The contest is limited to films shot in a vertical format.

Achyutanand Dwivedi
Achyutanand Dwivedi
Indian documentary filmmaker Achyutanand Dwivedi’s three-minute film, ‘Seed Mother’, won the third prize in the international section of Nespresso Talents 2019 in Cannes on last Friday night. Nespresso Talents is a contest limited to films shot in a vertical 9/16 video format.
Held annually as part of the Cannes Critics’ Week, Nespresso Talents encourages new perspectives in filmmaking and is now in its fourth year. This year's theme was ‘We Are What We Eat’ … aimed at exploring the world, experiencing diversity, and sharing experiences and knowledge through food. The contest received as many as 371 video entries from 47 countries in three broad categories: Farming and Biodiversity, Food Heritage and the Value Chain and Food in Popular Cultures. 
‘Seed Mother’ by Dwivedi celebrates the exceptional spirit of Rahibai Soma Popere, a woman who champions the use of local seeds and traditional farming methods in the villages of Maharashtra. The Nespresso 2019 first prize in the international section was won by New Zealand's Josh Morrice for ‘Subak’, about rice cultivation in Bali, while the second prize went to Mexican filmmaker Marco Aurelio Celis’ ‘Ruffo’.
Besides Dwivedi’s creditable win in this prestigious contest what thrilled me most was that the entire Nespresso contest is only for videos in ‘vertical’ format. And globally it is now becoming a format of choice. In my very first Blog for Campaign India in the beginning of last year In 2018, Think Vertical, I had predicted ‘new learnings, new orientations and new perspectives. For 2018, for everyone in advertising, the single most important message is: Think Vertical. Frame Vertical. Shoot Vertical.’ 
I had written in that piece, ‘Vertical Video Syndrome is here. And it is here to stay. The next time you are at a cricket match or a concert, look around you. 9 out of 10 youngsters will be holding their mobile phone vertically, and shooting video. The reason is that when they post their video on social media, they will get higher engagement.’ I had used some interesting statistics to support the argument: 
  • Facebook garners 8 billion video views per day and has started supporting native 2:3 video format 
  • Snapchat gets 10 billion video views per day and has started supporting native 2:3 video format 
  • Periscope live broadcasts are measured in years watched – with 110 years worth of video watched per day, mainly in the vertical format 
  • Instagram has 300 million daily active users and gave vertical video the indefinite shotgun
Interestingly, only last week Facebook India announced an initiative titled Thumbstoppers partnering leading ad agencies Wunderman Thompson, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, McCann and Mullen Lintas. The lead theme of the learning being imparted was usage of vertical formats. In fact Wunderman Thompson created some demo videos to serve as examples of what to do … so as to showcase the importance of grabbing attention in the first few seconds, especially when viewed on vertical most often with sound-off, and a delight to view with sound-on.
I have said this before; I repeat that … as screen devices become more and more ubiquitous in our lives they are becoming more portable, and flippable. Device ergonomics and human physiology encourage us to hold mobile screens in a predominantly vertical orientation. So when there’s a ton of people watching videos in the upright position, marketers have no choice but to include the vertical format in their production book and spend money promoting it on social channels.
Advertising with the vertical format will be the norm in the very near future (if it already isn’t). The sooner advertisers start, and the more often they do it, the better will the visibility, noticeability and interactability be for their brand communications. 
Congrats to Dwivedi for his Cannes win. The likes of Dwivedi now need to become the torch-bearers for this vertical thinking and vertical creativity. So used are art directors and cinematographers to the left-to-right eye movement that they still have to fully figure out the travelling of the eye from north to south. Those that will learn quicker will gain quicker. That at least is a reality not difficult to predict. As the Facebook Creative Playground gains momentum, as more and more creative people get tutored into storytelling on the mobile, horizontal will cede more and more mindspace to vertical. Yes, we are headed into interesting possibilities, interesting apertures and interesting times. 
Just the mindset will have to tilt 90 degrees!
(Dr. Sandeep Goyal has been a pioneer of mobile advertising in India and has been one of the
foremost evangelists of mobile-in-vertical creativity. He set up one of India’s first mobile-only
creative boutiques, The Mob four years ago.)


Campaign India