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Creator Conversations : Shetal Shah and Mel House

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

Cathleen Trigg-Jones interviews Shetal Shah and Mel House on their multi-award winning film, Off Duty. The short film won fourth place in the iWoman Audience Choice Award, was an official selection of the South Asian Film Festival of America 2021 as well as was a finalist for Best Narrative Short Film in the Madrid Film Awards of 2021. Off Duty also received an Honorable Mention in the Social Issue Category of the 4th Annual New York Women In Film & Television Online Shorts Film Festival. Based on a true story, Off Duty, is a story of mistaken identity, and what happens when we let our presumptions about race, identity and social media cloud our judgement. Filmmakers, Shetal Shah and Mel House, made this film following a real life experience Shetal faced. The experience inspired her to write about the dangers of presumptuous behaviors and how they can affect the average person.

The film follows a woman who is quietly going about her day and is approached by a neighborhood homeless woman. Unfortunately for the main character, she is caught in the middle of the dispute between the homeless woman and a police officer. Off Duty, utilizes social media and camera phones to express how living in the digital age where all actions are recorded and thoughts can be tracked via online pages can be both helpful and detrimental. Shah and House became creative partners after working with each other on an on-stage production of MacBeth. Quickly the two women realized they were neighbors, became close friends and began their creative ventures with one another. Be sure to watch Off Duty, streaming now iWoman TV.

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