Are you an aspiring filmmaker? Here's what you need to know
- 20 December 2017
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The film industry is a tough one, no doubt about it. And it takes a lot of patience and drive to break into it. My Salaam chatted with eight finalists of the Muhr Emirati programme at this year’s Dubai International Film Festival, and they offered their most important tips for those looking to pursue a career in film.
- WATCH FILMS
Most of them agreed that the first step to becoming a filmmaker is knowing what you are getting into. “Watch as many films as you can,” said Goldfish director Abdulaziz Almannaei. “Not just Emirati films, but films from all over the world, from every generation, from every genre. Film festivals are a great resource for this, as they offer a sense of liberty and creativity that the commercial space does not. It’s the best start to your education.”
- JUST DO IT; DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO HELP
“If you want to be an actor, just record yourself, go out and perform, and find the platform,” said Mohammed Al Hammadi, director of the sci-fi movie Al Zaman Al Baki (The Remaining Time). “If you are a writer, finish your script. If you are a director, find a script and actors, and just make that film. […] You need to go create that opportunity for yourself. Your first attempts may be horrible, and people may discourage you, but you have to push on and find people like us who will be encouraging instead.”
- FORGE YOUR OWN PATH
Aisha Alzaabi, who won Best Emirati Film at DIFF in 2014 for her first production, believes that experienced filmmakers can sometimes be a bit harsh. “If you ask for advice, they will tell you to wait, or take it slow, or that it’s too hard,” she said. “But if you really want to do something, it is not difficult at all. If you can manage it, just take the plunge and do what you want to do.”
- TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN
Take every role or job you get, and each one will be a learning experience. As Abdullah Alhemairi, director of Sarmad, noted, “I started doing small roles as I wanted to gain more knowledge and better experience before I started directing. Which is why I suggest that no matter how small or insignificant you may think the role or job is, do it. It will leave its mark and add to your knowledge and experience, making you a better professional.”
- NEVER STOP LEARNING
Director Waleed Al Shehhi, who came to the Muhr Emirati programme with Dawu Khafet (Dimmed Light), said, “I don’t like to call it an industry because we are still far from that. We need more time, and for people to make movies that are close to us and about us for the industry to grow. Even after all these years, I am not complacent.
“I learned something new (animation) and made a film in this genre. So I would advise young people to go and learn for themselves, through the Internet and then through workshops and courses, and continue to develop their skills to make better and more diverse films for us all.”
- USE RESOURCES WISELY
As a young, aspiring filmmaker, Yaser Al Neyadi found answers to his questions difficult to come by. Today, however, there is a wealth of information available online and through platforms like DIFF at our fingertips. “Read, research, and learn as much as you can from this. Answers are easy to find if you ask the right questions, and success will come if you have the wisdom to sort the right answers from the nonsense.”
- NETWORKING AND CONNECTING
Films festivals like DIFF are a great venue not just for watching some amazing films from the world over but also for meeting and interacting with fellow filmmakers. For Ahmed Hasan Ahmed, director of Wudu, this is an unmissable opportunity.
“Meeting new people, watching their work and then having the opportunity to talk to them is a great learning experience. If you are interested in cinema, you must visit and attend the festival programmes. Meet new people, and try to work in independent films, as this is an important and developing field.”
- IT’S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST GLAMOUR
With about 30 years of experience in cinema and filmmaking, camera director Abdullah Aljunaibi has this to share: “Look at any big actor, actress or director today. Do you think they were born onto the red carpet? Look at their history and understand the struggles they went through to get to where they are today. If you want glamour and fun, this is not the industry for you. You must be passionate enough to work hard and make many sacrifices in order to make your dream a reality in this world of dreams.”