1. Tell us something about your educational career?
I studied "Film & Television Production" at Sheffield specializing in cinematography before being invited the attend the "Faulty of Dramatic Art" at Belgrade National Film School in Serbia where I along with my fellow participants were mentored by Director Rian Johnson (who is known for the films Brick and Looper). I continued my studies by attending workshops and having private meetings with renowned Directors such as Alexander Sokorov (Russian Ark, Faust) and Krzysztof Zanussi (Constans, Spirala) to name a few.
2. Besides basic education, did you acquire specialised skills also?
Apart from the education mentioned above, I also studied Stereoscopy (how to film 3D film), basic colour grading, various lighting techniques, and After Effects compositing. I think the most important skill to acquire as a Director is the ability to listen. The key crew offer technical suggestions which be listened to and evaluated as the predominantly lead to improvements whilst the actors offer suggestions that can contradict, enforce and sometimes revolutionise what you had initially envisaged but skill lies in listening to how you communicate to all these individuals as you are speaking to them in real time as this allows you to ensure that your instructions are clear, precise and understandable.
3. You are a Director, Cinematographer and a Camera Operator, all in one; that seems a huge accomplishment. Please share with us how you manage to multi-task and acquire these diverse skills?
My educational background meant that initially I was unable to specialise in directing when I acquired my first education in the UK so I ended up specialising in Cinematography but was always working in short films as the Director and Cinematographer but after continuing my studies outside of the UK I was able to focus more on directing before graduating to feature films.
Specialising in cinematography gives you a strong insight into the possibilities and varieties of means in which to tell a story through the visual which helps you to work as a director because you are able to firstly focus on the story and performance of the actors and then enhance the performances and the strength of the story by creating strong visuals that you know fit the atmosphere of the scene and are not purely eye candy. I prefer to solely direct and not to take on the cinematography or camera operation as to split my concentration over the various roles means that I can’t fully focus on either role fully causing the end result to be overall weaker.
The cinematographer I work with at the moment is extremely good so in the pre-production he creates a mood board which works as a visual reference of ideas we think will work best. We then use this to breakdown the script together as we design the cinematic look of each scene then when onset we takes over the cinematography entirely leaving me just direct and view the performances as though part of the cinema audience.
4. You have made many movies. Which one do you consider your most outstanding work and why?
It’s difficult to say as I tend to always be dissatisfied with my films as I always see the mistakes or the areas where I could have done better and should have pushed for a bit more so I don’t really see them as outstanding. If I had to choose a film it would probably be a film called "Stay" as we shot the entire film across one day starting at 4am and finishing at 1am in a variety of locations such as a forest, sea, in a city and then in the mountains all in a small town/city in Italy, and film ended up being exactly what I wanted and the actors were great along with my cinematographer.
5. What has been your most successful venture?
I guess anytime you make a feature film it is a pretty epic venture as what is involved in just getting to the point of shooting so I would say co-directing my first feature film "Big Speakers" as it was made in Lithuania a country I didn’t know in a language I didn’t speak with a deaf child and on a tiny budget so it was a success just making it.
6. Share with us the details of awards won by you, any that you feel very proud of?
It probably sounds like a lie but I don’t really care much for awards, maybe because I got used to losing haha, but maybe the first award I won in Italy as it was the first time people who weren’t my friends told me that one of my films was good and had emotionally affected them.
7. Regarding your venture in Pakistan, tell us about the equipment being used. Has it been sourced from Pakistan or brought by you from abroad?
Well we are shooting on RED which is basically the international standard camera which all feature films seem to be shooting on and the lights and stabilisation systems we sourced from Pakistan but we had to build some equipment which isn’t available here and also bring some specific lights from Poland along with the lenses for the camera as these are very high quality and weren’t available in Pakistan.
8. Have you gotten used to the Pakistani environment and local work ethic? We do tend to be late and are not too particular about time and schedules.
The work ethic is a bit of a shock as film sets in the West and Europe tend to be a lot more efficient so what we are shooting over 2-3 days in Pakistan, we shoot that in Europe in 1 day but I think it is due to the cost in Europe is far greater. Also Pakistani people especially Lahoris eat all the time so it’s hard to drag them away from their plates. 🙂
9. Will Driven be the only production or will there be more projects by you in Pakistan?
I guess it depends on the success of Driven but I have the template for a few more films I would like to do in Pakistan so if the opportunity is there then why not.
10. Any chance that you may get married in Pakistan?
I think my girlfriend would kill me if I did.
11. Summarise your experience of Pakistan and its people for our readers?
Pakistan was and is surprisingly welcoming. From what we hear in the media, we as foreigners are lead to believe it to be a very hostile place but in reality it’s very hospitable. In the first few days we were in Pakistan we had a car accident not far from our house and I was really surprised how all our neighbours came to make sure we were ok and of course we had to have tea with them all so it was a real nice gesture from them and kind of summarises my experiences in Pakistan.
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