Encouraged by training, government-funded incentive schemes and exposure through film festivals in the UAE, more Emiratis are taking to filmmaking. BroadcastProME speaks to two Emirati filmmakers whose works were screened at this years Gulf Film Festival Aisha Abdullah made an early yet gradual foray into filmmaking. Having studied Mass Communication in university, Abdullah slowly and […]
Encouraged by training, government-funded incentive schemes and exposure through film festivals in the UAE, more Emiratis are taking to filmmaking. BroadcastProME speaks to two Emirati filmmakers whose works were screened at this years Gulf Film Festival
Aisha Abdullah made an early yet gradual foray into filmmaking. Having studied Mass Communication in university, Abdullah slowly and steadily honed her craft, alongside a full-time media career. Filmmaking is an artistic avenue for Abdullah, which she enjoys because it is a direct way to talk to the world.
“Films have always attracted me, I pursue filmmaking as a hobby. It is interesting and there is so much to explore, I enjoy it,” says Abdullah.
Abdullah specialised in TV and radio at college and then took up a job with a media company. She now makes films on topics of social interest.
“I like to highlight social issues and consider documentaries an ideal way to do so.
In college, her interest in filmmaking was further piqued and as part of her project work and extra curriculum, she made films that won her several awards.
“I got awards for my films at the university, which was a huge encouragement for me, and made me believe in myself.”
She won the Promising Director Award from the New York Film Academy in the Gulf Film Festival for her short films Beginning…End and 69. Both films voice the concerns of the young generation as they seek to achieve their desires.
“The awards paved the way for me to pursue filmmaking more seriously as they gave me clarity and confidence. It was something I could pursue that I enjoyed doing and was good at.”
She volunteered for five years at film festivals which gave her a chance to work closely with national and international filmmakers. Her interest deepened further and she began to take a keen interest in the craft. Thats when the decision to join the New York Film Academy workshop came about and Abdullah enrolled for the Digital Filmmaking programme at New York Film Academy, Abu Dhabi.
Having made amateur films at college, a formal course gave her a better insight into the craft while also enabling her to brush up on her technical knowledge.
She has made six films so far, which are all short films between three and five minutes. She has also made two documentaries of six minute and 15 minute duration. In post production, she has been using Final Cut Pro X version 7.
Her entry for the Gulf Film Festival this year, was a documentary titled Beginning End, which was shot with her Canon 5D.
Another New York Film Academy alumnus, Ahmed Zain, is a late bloomer in filmmaking. He was looking for an avenue to express himself when he stumbled upon filmmaking that came as an ideal choice. Joining New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi was a first step towards fulfilling his dream.
“I had simple ideas and needed to express them, joining a course was what I thought of to begin with, and that gave me a direction. Then there was no looking back,” Zain explains.
Zain makes films as a hobby and works full time with Abu Dhabi Municipality. He took up filmmaking as a serious hobby after his stint at the New York Film Institute.
With five actors and 10-12 crew, his film Safi was shot over two days in Ajman. Its editing and sound took a month in all to complete.
Zain is presently working on a script and hopes to make many more films in the coming years, while Abdullah is looking for the right script to graduate to the next level of making a full-fledged documentary
Safi – a film by Ahmed Zain
Zain considers the camera a tool to capture moments to recreate images long lost. The themes that he chooses for his films are from everyday life or sometimes plucked from his childhood years to recreate memories. Ahmed Zains eight-minute documentary grabbed attention at the recently held Gulf Film Festival for its simple yet unusual theme.
Titled Safi, the film recreates the era of the eighties when rooftop antennas were common. The filmmaker says: “Antennas have always fascinated me. Even as a child, I used to look at the aerial as the first point of contact between us as TV viewers and the source. We would experience disruption and then fix the aerial or move it a little and everything would be fine.
“I wanted to highlight the importance we would give to antennas and how much in control we felt as kids when we made the picture appear by altering the direction of the aerial. I remember bonding over fixing the antenna with my siblings. At times, just to catch a glimpse of the programme, we would painstakingly keep moving the antenna. The joy was immense when the aerial got the right direction and we caught the image and sound properly.”
Technology has galloped ahead at breakneck speed in the past decade and to keep in step with the changing time, one leaves behind endearing fixtures. Zains film is symbolic of what was and what has come of it. Some memories leave an indelible mark on the psyche and antennas are one such element that Zain has a strong association with. Twenty years ago, they were critical to TV reception unlike the sophisticated set-top-boxes and OTT devices available today. TV was the only source of entertainment in most households, and television depended on antennas.
His equipment includes a Canon 5D Mark III, Steadycam camera supports (two tripods), sound gear (hand recorder, boom mic) and wireless transmitter and receiver. He used Final Cut Pro for editing.