Filming the Microsoft video about the MSP Program – My Experiences

When I think about it, the whole experience looks surreal. Never had I imagined that I’ll be starring in a video shoot with a proper setup containing dozens of cameras, reflectors, a director, a producer, on-site crew, a make-up lady, a microphone et al plus a crew member who would travel all the way from Seattle, U.S to my place here in Hyderabad, India for filming the video.

During the interview shoot in Russia.

During the interview shoot in Russia.

It all started with a survey/questionnaire where Microsoft (through Waggener Edstrom) was looking for potential Microsoft Student Partners (MSPs) for their new video project that highlights the work that MSPs do. Selecting TWO people from around NINE THOUSAND in the world? Well good luck to them. That was followed by multiple emails before announcing my selection for the video project. My first reaction? BLANK.

I was then scheduled for a video chat to discuss more about the shoot and all but I ended up placing my hand on my chin feeling awestruck after interacting with the director – Matt Skerritt who not just has incredible work to his credit but also whose Dad played an important role in one of my fav movies of all time. Remember Tom Skerritt as “Viper” – the flight instructor to Tom Cruise in Top Gun? YES!

Many days later, I drove myself to The Westin to meet Andy Hanson, the videographer on this project who had flown all the way from U.S. to India to capture some scenes in my home background. THIRTY TWO hours in transit (back and forth each) from his place in Seattle to Hyderabad? OM.G!

Andy working inside the Charminar

Andy working inside the Charminar

I now thank my stars for helping me meet Andy. During our course of interaction and work over the next few days, I found him to be one of the most professional, humble and extremely well-mannered person I’ve ever met in my life. We shot at important places here in Hyderabad like the Charminar, the Golconda Fort (yes, we scaled those hundreds of stairs up to get the perfect shot), Hussain Sagar (speed boat, baby!), the Microsoft office etc. While at Charminar when Andy was busy filming me, a crowd of around twenty people used to surround Andy and the camera, each one of them stepping on their toes to get a glimpse of what’s happening in the camera screen. Not to forget the ‘Hyderabadi’ passersby on vehicles whizzing past us from whom I received hilarious comments during action and that was hard for me as I had to stay motionless/expressionless and NOT SMILE or laugh during the shoot.

Me and Andy after completing the shoot on the last day

Me and Andy after completing the shoot on the last day

Saying goodbye to Andy was hard but not without a promise to meet him someday in Seattle. In a week from then, I landed in Saint Petersburg, Russia for Microsoft Imagine Cup where Matt Skerritt and Brad Lenz (the producer) were scheduled to meet me to complete the remaining portions of the video shoot. Matt and Brad are super-efficient and they know how to get the work done. While fulfilling my responsibilities as an MSP Social Media Team member at Imagine Cup Russia, my schedule was pretty much bummed up (hectic) all the time but we did manage to get some amazing shots in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

It’s really been a great experience participating in this video project by Microsoft about the Microsoft Student Partner program. Meeting Andy here in Hyderabad, doing quick selfie shots at Dubai Airport en-route to Russia, exploring the Palace Square in Saint Petersburg with Matt, waiting for Brad to pick me up from the MSPSMT dorm room for our shoots during Imagine Cup, clearing my throat before the important interview on-camera. Ah boy! Good memories.

Matt - the Director is to the extreme left. Brad - the Producer is to my right

Matt – the Director is to the extreme left. Brad – the Producer is to my right

Thanks are due to Microsoft for selecting me for this video project and making me feel special. Thank you Andy for teaching me a great lesson in humbleness (I really learnt a LOT from you). Thanks Matt for ‘tolerating’ me all through the while. Thanks Brad for taking the effort to actually come down to our MSPSMT room and pick me up for shoots.

Thanks Mom, Michelle Fleming – Worldwide MSP Program Lead, for making all of this happen. Your support and love is unmatched!

The video is as below and it is AMAZING! Loved it. I should say – I feel extremely honoured and privileged to be featured in there. Thank you Microsoft for making me feel special. I owe you a lot!

Spasibo! (Russian for ‘Thank You’)


Selected for a special MSP video project by Microsoft – Yowzaa!!

Microsoft shooting a premier video about you and your experience as a Microsoft Student Partner, how cool is that? Very, I’d say.

Well, Microsoft in collaboration with Waggener Edstrom is preparing a special video project helmed by Brad Lenz and Matt Skerritt (LenzSkerritt Media) about the experiences of being a Microsoft Student Partner and what comes with it.

Two MSPs globally have been selected to be featured in this video project, myself being one of ‘em. A surprise co-incidence is that the other MSP selected (apart from me) is in fact a great friend of mine and an awesome team-mate.

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The video crew will be covering my responsibilities during the Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals in St. Petersburg, but not before shooting a significant portion of the video at my home location (Hyderabad, India).

I did interact with Matt Skerritt over Skype and can already predict this to be a lot of fun. Matt is known for directing video content for clients like NBC/Universal, Columbia Records, Warner Bros., Microsoft, Holland America Line, BBC and MTV. Waggener Edstrom is famous about its work for Microsoft. Other notable clients include T-Mobile, Toshiba, Boeing, Mastercard and Sony Electronics.

I am as excited as I can be about being selected for this special MSP video project.

Looking forward!

Microsoft DreamSpark Yatra 2012 – Hyderabad: The success story

Abey yaar” was my reaction when I got the official notification regarding details of Microsoft DreamSpark Yatra 2012. Phir se? Probably yes.

One year ago:

MSPs of Hyderabad and the surrounding areas were pretty excited and pumping up to their best when they all were selected as MSPs (yours truly included). They were all smiles when the Open Day was held. A month later at out very first MSP meet, hardly twenty turned out from the official count of 54 MSPs. Moving ahead, we had our regular dose of meet-ups/live meets etc. in preparation for DreamSpark Yatra 2011. And they all went well. The two DSY events at Warangal went off really well. We came back to Hyderabad only to find that we are short of dates and a venue for our very own DSY event. We fixed a date, finalized a college as the venue and marched along. It went well except for a few glitches (I won’t talk about) which later turned out to be bigger than we had expected. Coming to a personal side, I was a bit offended over the proceedings and the way things were handled post the DSY event given the amount of hard work and dedication I (we) had put in them. And this had has stayed with the old MSPs until recently.

“It all depends on how much willing you are to leave the past behind, move ahead to help create a difference at present and create history in the future.”


We (AP MSPs) were on ground zero and raring to go. This was an absolutely fresh start for the DreamSpark Yatra 2012 event. We wanted to make it BIG. We wanted it to be heard across everywhere. We wanted it to be talked about in the circles. We wanted it to be an event par-excellence. And yet, we were still on ground zero. There was a need for an initiative. I jumped on it and from there on, we began sailing. Warangal was again host to two excellent and splendid DSY events. But coming to the Hyderabad version, we had to be very very careful since this was where we had erred a year ago and we did not want any repeat.

I was very ably supported by my team, i.e. AP MSPs who understood me very well. We got two great speakers from Microsoft for the event, we got a great college auditorium for the event, we had a fab agenda for the day, covering topics such as Windows 8, Windows Phone 7, Kinect, Windows Azure and a live demo with a robot integrated with Kinect. Everything was perfect on paper. Never in the history of DreamSpark Yatra have registration tickets been sold out so fast! We literally had to pause the registration process in the middle as more than 700 tickets out of 1000 were sold in 8 hours flat without a single poster being distributed! Yes, that’s a record.

As the D-day arrived, I could feel the jitters. And as I slipped into my bed to wake up the next day for the DreamSpark Yatra Hyd event, I suddenly got a flash recall of the previous year; all those memories started trimming in my head. I remembered how I had lost my voice during the middle of my session due to excessive session-talk in the earlier two DSYs. I remember how I had left my house at 3:37am for Warangal while the whole of India was busy sleeping. I remembered the smile on my Dad’s face when he saw the memento I had received for being a speaker at the Warangal DSY event. It all was to happen again and the culmination of all our hard work had trimmed down to one day: TOMORROW!

And boy! What an event it was!! Excellent!  The chief guests from Microsoft were all in awe! The attendees wore huge smiles as they left with their certificate and DreamSpark key. And those pain-staking efforts were justified by that smile as that was our only motive, to let the student community know about the latest technologies.

After the event was over and when the workers started running in and out, emptying the chairs and the carpets, I suddenly realized that yes, we had done it. We had exceeded our expectations. We had worked hard and the fruit was right in front of us. That, according to me, is the best feeling in the world.

The post-event appreciation made us pat ourselves on the back. DreamSpark Yatra Hyderabad 2012 was one of a kind. Oh yes, it was heard across everywhere; it was talked about in circles.

There is

One thing to be learnt from all this: No matter what, believe in thyself. We started from nothing and achieved something. That’s speaks a ton. It indeed does.

Huge thanks to my fellow MSP colleagues without whom it wouldn’t have been possible, for a sailor needs a supportive crew and not just a ship.

Tomorrow when a senior faculty member asks me about my experiences during my Harvard admission process for my MBA, I can happily recall my DreamSpark Yatra 2012 Hyderabad experience for I feel it’s worth it.

“Be Yourself” – Syed Asrarullah