January 12, 2015 at 11:48PM

6

Feeling very helpless and depress

I am passionate about filmmaking and planning to shoot my very first proper pro level work which is going to be a series of short documentaries for internet (100% free work without any chance or hope of making any money) though I am feeling very helpless and depressed.

In Pakistan I reside in a city called Peshawar where things are being very difficult to live, every single day we have security threats from the idiot fanatics called Talabns, the whole city got no video and no photography strict policy, if you go want to do any video work in any corner of the city then soon you would be surounded by the police or army and strictly told by them to handover your equiptment to them and you might get it back (if lucky) after weeks of inspection and more over can be arrested too.

The whole situation has made me feel very negative and helpless.

What shall I do?
How I can boost my positivity?
How can I create the stuff that I have always wanted to?

29 Comments

Can you shoot indoors ?

If it's impossible to shoot outside, then perhaps you need to find a way to tell your stories by filming inside.

January 13, 2015 at 9:20AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30595

Thank you very much for your reply.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 1:45AM

If I couldn't do what I love, and lived in a place that didn't allow it, I would move. Is that an option you have?

January 14, 2015 at 2:00PM

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Will Watkins
Cinematographer // Editor
213

Very true, its all about love affair and find the way to satisfy the passion of love.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 1:48AM, Edited January 24, 1:48AM

Try to build your own set in a room for interviews and take advantage of the situation, get a zoom lens, and document the STORY of the "Talabns". Who are they? What do they do? Why do they do it? Is it risky? Yes it is, but it's also an opportunity to document a reality that does not happen in every country, giving you a chance to maybe share with the world. Things that are worth it always require hard work and sacrifices. Good luck my friend.

January 15, 2015 at 12:53PM

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Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
2005

I like your idea, thanks and also thanks for being so kind. Recently I have purchased two vintages zoom lenses (Tokina 80 200 2.8 and Makinon 35-105 2.8 - both are in very good condition) so yeh would definitely be using it for documentary stuff though seriously its wise to stay away from Talabans and anything related to them or else Pakistani and US agency people are following me like a shadow :)

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 1:51AM

Hi Sabir,
I feel sorry for you in your current situation. But what all here are suggesting, shoot indoor. But for documentaries you need not be locked in your home town. If you are interested in street documentary then forget it doing in your home town. But you still can do lot of work by using stock footage and live interviews. You can show your talent in doing interviews inside your own studio setup. Don't get stuck with what is not possible for you now, instead start exploring what else you can do to exhibit your talent. Internet is an infinite source of information, dig there and you will find light. So don't just sit there, get moving. I wish your dream come true...

January 16, 2015 at 8:49AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
620

Thanks for your kind reply, I appreciate your intelligent advice "dont get stuck with what is not possible and start exploring what is possible", seriously thanks for your kind advice.

Your advice has really made me think about various options and alternatives that can help me do stuff as a filmmaker while having low profile, thanks.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 1:55AM, Edited January 24, 1:55AM

You probably want to start with interviews and as the others have suggested shoot them inside, behind closed doors. You can also get lots of b-roll inside with the people you interview. Even shooting mundane, every day things can be beautiful and even meaningful. And if your movie explains how difficult it is to shoot any footage in your country, the audience will understand why so much of your film is trapped inside. You might think of shooting a documentary only from inside locations as a challenge. How can you get creative with your shots? How many different ways can you shoot one room? Try putting your camera on the ground, on the ceiling shooting down, try some time lapse footage.

Then if you want to be really bold and don't mind the risk, you might think about hidden cameras for outside footage. Gopros are small and fairly easy to hide in a bag or under loose garments. Be careful, be safe and don't lose hope.

January 16, 2015 at 3:22PM

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Katie Damien
Writer, Director, Producer
106

Dear and Respected Katie Damien,

First of all its an hounor to have a reply from such a respected and accomplished person like you, thanks a lot, your reply really means a lot to me.

I read your post word by word several times and most definitely would follow your advice and if possible would like to seek more guidance and advice from you in the days to come.

Thanks and kind regards.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 2:04AM

Living in a city run by the Taliban is quite a story, but it seems a love of filmmaking cannot crossover with it. What if you learn to edit, and freelance on the internet. You would have to compromise, but can still be engaged with the filmmaking process.

January 17, 2015 at 1:37AM

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Zachariel Shanahan
Writer/Director
1013

Thanks buddy for the kind advice, I am definitely interested to know more about freelance work and projects through internet and maybe you can guide me if possible.

Thanks.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 2:05AM

Hi, S.M.

Yes, I guess when the Taliban have a shooting schedule they mean something a bit different. I am an ethnic Pakistani living in the UK. I guess you are a Pathan somewhere in the North-West province. Do you travel much or have any friends in other areas ? If you do some level of pre-production, then get over to Lahore or similar and hit your project in a short schedule, then quiet post behind closed doors. Maybe that could work. Low budget, low key. Otherwise friends, greenscreen and download Fusion (!).

I think countries everywhere are getting more security minded - my school day trip to France as child, or the weekend I once had in Paris might have to be rethought today. I dare say if I went to public parts of London with a camera, I'd get questioned, and I would love to visit the U.S. one day, but I'm sure there would be a chunk of questions to answer ("What do you mean you want to attend NAB just to look around ?").

I do sympathise with you, but Pakistan does have a rich culture of performance art, perhaps more in theatre than cinema at the moment, but you have to find it. Even in the UK there are villages, and the chances of success for someone in film-making are perhaps increased by being more connected in London or Cardiff or similar, if you know what I mean.

I love Pakistan and admire and respect you in your vision, wishing you every success in maybe being that one guy who changes the outside perception of the country, armed only with a camera. Best.

January 17, 2015 at 6:30AM

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Saied M.
1364

Assalam o Alaikum Brother,

I do appreciate a reply from a brother, thanks. I am not a Pathan though my whole family is from Peshawar region, we are Hindco and Urdu speaking.

Your words and advice sounds very kind and friendly, for that thanks a lot.

Most definitely Pakistan got a very rich culture and for this coming year I am planning to spend a month or two in areas like Chitral, Hunza, Gilgit etc. where I plan to shoot 2 or 3 documentaries simultaneously.

We should talk if its ok with you.

Thanks and Allah Hafiz.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 2:13AM

I'd be interested to see a documentary about how hard it is to make a documentary in a country where doing that kind of thing can get you arrested... Hope that doesn't sound facetious or glib - as I genuinely mean it. I'm in London, and it's easy for us to take certain freedoms of expression for granted - but in other places it's a huge struggle to do the same, and it would be interesting to know the lengths people have to go to. It's a story that has tension, conflict, wide interest (the taliban/security aspect)... Even if it's just talking heads with other filmmakers talking about their experiences - and telling stories of what they've had to do to get stuff made - I think you'd find an audience.

Hope it goes well - and let me know if you get something made. I used to direct/trustee a filmmaking charity specialising in documentary and fiction work for humanitarian purposes - and I think there's plenty you could make in your current situation.

Cheers,
Alex.

January 17, 2015 at 4:10PM

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Alex Richardson
Director
3387

Hello there,

Thanks for your reply, I have lived and studied in England for a few years and hell its one awesome place to work and be creative though when you come back to a place like Pakistan and then soon find yourself surounded by morans and retards like talabans then you start to feel very trapped.

I agree with you 100% that I can do a lot if I want to, thanks for the advice and most definitely I will explore more venues for my filmmaking, thanks.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 2:26AM

Hi there,
I agree with Alex. The subject is very interesting. But all depends on the ratio of risk and gain. But risk factor in Peshawar is almost death or in hell for the rest of the life, and the gain is almost nothing unless the film is smuggled out. We cannot imaging the kind of life these people are living. I really feel sorry for them. But I wish, Sabir will find a out from the feedback on this column.

January 18, 2015 at 8:20AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
620

Really thanks for being so kind and considerate, I really appreciate this.

Most definitely this forum got lots of awesome and friendly people including you and I am sure all of you will help and guide me in best possible manner.

Thanks, your post means a lot to me.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 2:29AM

Never give up. Never stop dreaming. If you can't do outside, make inside. :D

January 18, 2015 at 3:53PM, Edited January 18, 3:53PM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
8115

HELL YEH, thanks for the beautiful words and trust me I believe that I am destined to rise very high and shine like a star.

Thanks.

S M Sabir

January 24, 2015 at 2:31AM

You have certain limits in your creativity. Use these limits to concentrate on the subject that's right before you, in the mirror...
You're story is touching, at least for other filmmakers in the world, and you should tell it by using your camera. Make a documentary about how hard it is to make a movie in Pakistan. The people are really interested in topics like that.

January 25, 2015 at 4:14AM

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Dennis Mirza
Nomad Filmmaker
36

Thanks for your kind reply, I appreciate this.

Now days after getting advices and suggestions from so many awesome people of this forum I have started working on few plans to shoot documentaries so hopefully I will have something good in my hands in near future.

Thanks.

S M Sabir

January 26, 2015 at 11:25PM

Hi Sabir,
are you present???

January 28, 2015 at 7:08AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
620

Most definitely I am :)

S M Sabir

February 3, 2015 at 1:16AM

Thanks for your kind words, I appreciate this.

February 3, 2015 at 1:17AM

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S M Sabir
Filmmaker in MAKING :)
303

Unfortunately I have no great insight or solution but all I can say is come to India and we'll help you as much as possible :)

February 3, 2015 at 8:17AM

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Vivek Venkatraman
Student
100

there are different solutions but each of them has its own risk.
for example you can shoot outside in a small hidden camera (If you are lucky to buy it on internet, I dont know if thats possible in your country) this cameras comes in a tiny size, some of them like a hand watch...
but the problem of shooting with hidden cameras in dangerous places is that it may cause many risks for your life. Especially if you got caught by Taliban for example. U need millions of years to convince them that you are not spying on their locations..
However the only available solution that I can see for your situation, is using hidden camera for shooting panorama shots only for exteriors..(outdoors)..without giving much attention to what you are shooting with (so no need for someone to stand in front your camera and talk)..you can make a voice over for that person and in the editing u just put his sound on the shots u shot outside...
example of hidden cameras nowadays is just like using your phone...
you can shoot photos as well, and find nice voice over lines to explain and go further in the story of your documentay.
and when it is too much dangerous for shooting (photos and videos) you can record sound for the action that takes place...and you can find creative way of making that sound visually interesting by other videos or photos that u choose..
filmmaking is about creativity..in the hard situation u live in You will be able to come out with creative ideas that many others who dont live you situation can't come up with. And thats what will make your film interesting and hopefully screened in Tv channels and even get selected to film festivals...
each filmmaker has his own ID. and the place where you live in will give you your own ID and you will be able to pass these obstacles by using your own creativity. you will be unique and different from others for the unique stories that others cant tell. So I hope that makes sense for you and can increase your confidence and make u more positive..
cheers

February 3, 2015 at 10:47PM

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Ammar Quteineh
Director|Cinematographer |||France|||
748

As a fellow filmmaker from Pakistan, I understand and relate with your despair. However, being in Lahore affords me a little more freedom I think. I hope that you will succeed with your ambitions if you persist with your efforts. Do let me know if you need any kind of help in Lahore.

February 9, 2015 at 3:48AM

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Ali Kazmi
Editor / Writer
86

Hi Sabbir,
now that you have so many well wishers from around the world with you, what's your plan? Did this boost your moral?
May God bless you...

February 28, 2015 at 5:07AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
620

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