4 min read

How This Local Storyhunter Crew in Mumbai Brought Gucci’s Vision to Life

Mumbai-based Storyhunter freelancer Hardik Contractor directed a corporate social responsibility documentary for fashion powerhouse Gucci.
How This Local Storyhunter Crew in Mumbai Brought Gucci’s Vision to Life
Photo Credit: Devpriya Mohata

Mumbai-based Storyhunter freelancer Hardik Contractor directed a corporate social responsibility documentary for fashion powerhouse Gucci.

Who is the brand?

Gucci, the iconic Italian luxury fashion house, launched Gucci Equilibrium in 2017 that is part of a “10-year plan to embed a comprehensive sustainability strategy into and around the brand.” Under this strategy, Gucci has supported the “I Was a Sari” initiative, an Indian social enterprise founded by Stefano Funari that sells contemporary ready-to-wear and accessories made from second-hand saris (saris are an Indian garment that are a symbol of national pride.) Gucci’s support for “I Was a Sari” includes a special embroidery training program for female artisans at its partner export houses in Mumbai, India.

Gucci’s program led to a new and premium line of “I Was a Sari” products called “Now I Can.” It operates under Chime For Change, a global campaign founded by Gucci in 2013 that fights for gender equality.

Photo Credit: Devpriya Mohata

Who is the freelancer?

Hardik Contractor is a documentary filmmaker and creative director who has a production team in Mumbai, India, and gravitates towards working for companies committed to creating positive change in the world. He has completed 60 projects on Storyhunter across Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe for clients including Udemy, Global Citizen, Doha Debates, and Edelman.

In addition to his video production expertise, Gucci hired Hardik because he knows Mumbai like the back of his hand. He had been to the areas where Gucci wanted to film, and therefore, could more confidently handle the logistics and execute the shoot.

What is the concept of the video?

Gucci wanted to create a five-minute short documentary that conveyed their commitment to sustainability, a circular economy, and uplifting the lives of underprivileged women. They also wanted to emphasize their support for gender equality.

“Men often make embroidery in India,” Hardik said. “There were thousands of men doing the hand embroidery and a few women. Under Gucci’s initiative, the women learned the technique and began to work alongside these men. Earlier, they were not even stepping out of their houses, but now they are doing the job and becoming financially independent.”

Photo Credit: Devpriya Mohata

Hardik said the concept was “not just recycling or transforming the old saris into new contemporary products, but metaphorically speaking, they were also reinventing the lives of these women from marginalized communities.”

In addition to this social message, Gucci wanted to highlight its unique and elevated products that are “very special in terms of their look and feel,” Hardik said.

Photo Credit: Devpriya Mohata

What were the creative process and production workflow?

Hardik and his team played a crucial role in formulating the story. “When we were shooting, we discussed what kind of film they wanted. Do they want very polished, commercial content? Or a raw, authentic story? Gucci wanted more of a documentary style piece.”

Hardik’s team captured two terabytes of footage over the five-day two-cam shoot. From the beginning, Gucci was clear about the brand messaging, but there was no script. “When we ran through all the footage, we realized that unfortunately, we could use everything,” Hardik said. “All the stories, all the characters, all the instances we had captured, they were all unique. So, the most challenging task was what to keep and what to discard.”

Hardik had a few rounds of discussions with Gucci, and “I Was a Sari” to shortlist the stories they wanted to highlight. Gucci’s Global Brand and Culture Engagement Director Alessandra Bichi then went through the transcripts and selected the exact soundbites they wanted to include in the film. Hardik then had the creative freedom to build the story, from editing the sequence, color correction, to choosing the music.

Hardik provided the first version that was eight minutes long. It was edited down to the intended five minutes and immediately approved. The edit took two weeks, while the project from start to finish took three months.

What was it like in the field?

Hardik acted as the creative director on the shoot. His team in the field included two documentary filmmakers, a sound recordist, line producer, production assistant, and photographer. There were also members of Gucci’s team who flew to Mumbai from Milan for the shoot.

“Ten to 12 people were sneaking into the narrow lanes and the slums of Mumbai carrying huge cameras and tripods,” Hardik said. “In the five-day schedule, I think we covered all of Mumbai in terms of geography as each location was at a different spot.” (They filmed at Gucci’s partner export houses, at the women’s homes, and at I Was a Sari’s production spaces.)

Photo Credit: Devpriya Mohata

Hardik said another challenge was translating interactions from Hindi to English for Gucci’s representatives in the field while maintaining the busy production schedule. “So, the shoot was very challenging, yet fun and exciting,” he said.

How was the video received?

Gucci was thrilled with the film, Hardik told us. “I got messages from each team member saying that I did an exceptional job.”

“The credit goes to everyone, including the Storyhunter team, for bringing me on board, bringing the client to us, and navigating each step of the process so accurately and precisely.”

Photo Credit: Devpriya Mohata

The short doc has over 25,000 views on YouTube and has helped share Gucci’s brand story and values in a visually powerful way. Gucci has received worldwide recognition for its initiative: In 2019, “I Was a Sari” won the Circular Design Challenge Award, India’s first award for sustainable fashion, and the Responsible Disruptive Award in Milan at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards.

By Shivan Sarna, Head of Stories