Desh Amila is an award-winning filmmaker and creative director, responsible for innovations in the media industry, at the nexus between fields of education, entertainment, and social development.
His long journey locally and around the globe, had humble beginnings here in Sri Lanka. On receiving a scholarship at a young age he migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 2000, and graduated from Melbourne’s Deakin University with a Bachelor of Arts (Media Arts: Screen Studies and Photography) in 2005. This was the first step in what would become a slow and steady rise from working from the bottom as an immigrant in a new country, to running his internationally renowned media production company today, This Is 42. Named after a reference in The Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, the mission of his ongoing endeavor has been to find meaning and purpose in people, events, podcasts and film.
With a desire to inspire, Desh is part of a community of new thinkers, on a mission to educate, entertain and enhance the lives of others, using thoughtful and intelligent content and creative human resource as fuel. Multifaceted and quick to adapt, this has helped him surf through changing tides.
Some of his most crucial experiences include leading online media publications, founding Australia’s first YouTube festival with international game-changers in the viral video sphere, and years of creating and managing infotainment figures in Australia. His travels and networking saw him spearheading large scale events in hip hop and entertainment industries for more than a decade. The spirit of his work has been to create communities where ideas can be voiced and challenged through world-class events and facilitated by internationally recognized educators, thought-leaders and scientists.
A turning point in Desh’s career came in 2016 with producing and co-directing the acclaimed documentary film, Islam And The Future of Tolerance. The film is an exposé and treatise on how, in a world driven by violence and misunderstanding, prominent atheist author, Sam Harris, and Islamic fundamentalist turned liberal Muslim, Maajid Nawaz, seek to provide a remedy to the polarising rhetoric and obscurantism around the topic of Islam.
Another production under his belt is the limited-series podcast available on all streaming platforms, What The Hell Happened To Sri Lanka? The series is an attempt to investigate the domino effect of events that led up to the island’s economic and political crisis that peaked in 2020. In this podcast, he spoke to notable members of the Parliament, journalists, economists and researchers, to help paint a portrait of the island’s journey, through conflict, turmoil, changing leadership and survival against the odds.
These projects go hand-in-hand with the growth of his company, This Is 42, as it spreads its branches out internationally. Its teamwork ethic has been to celebrate intelligence in all its forms, using a signature touch in hosting tours and events, and producing and managing podcasts and brands that explore new horizons in the fields of art, science, design, sports and music.
Some of its clients have been notable speakers in the international realms of critical thinking and cultural commentary, like writer Coleman Hughes, psychologist Steven Pinker, journalist Meghan Daum, and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Founded in 2018, With a team of 35 spread across two continents, This Is 42 has been going strong through and past the pandemic era, redefining communication and digital connectivity across borders. The team collaborates across multiple platforms to paint in complex layers of writing, audio and visuals that together breathe life into some of the internet’s favorite podcasts and YouTube channels..
A proponent for change, Desh has also advocated for philanthropy and social enterprise in business. Today, Desh is responsible for setting up the Deshantha Foundation. In collaboration with other social development thinkers, the Foundation focuses on community development and research, with the larger goal of studying basic income and economy and setting up programs for poverty alleviation in Sri Lanka.
As someone who carried his vision from Sri Lanka to other parts of the world, in an effort to effect change and inspire growth and intellectual thought, Desh’s story is one to inspire others with similar aspirations. To get in touch with him or follow up on his projects, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram at @iamdesh, or his website www.deshamila.com