Hasan Qureshi

Director/Writer/Producer
Canada

1. Your film Charlene won award the Best Indie Feature Film. How was the film inspired?

I read an article about a girl who walked out of her marriage because of domestic violence. She moved to the city but failed to survive because was not educated and eventually committed suicide. The story was stuck in my head for sometime until Angela Hou, the actress of Charlene posted a video of her dance on her social media. That's where the idea of showing emotions through dance came from. I got in touch with her and after she was on board, I started developing the script because I thought dance could be a great tool to use to show the characters psychological state.

Along with that the film is from an outsider's perspective because as a writer I saw that article from that perspective. I personally do not encourage the decision of the girl from the article or the character I created, but it is an unfortunately reality of the world which is why it was important to have another character with a serious issue to balance things out and see the outcome. The mistake of one character leads to being a lesson for another.

9. What was the most important lesson you had to learn as filmmaker?

  1. Patience

  2. The first cut of your film will always be disappointing.

  3. Know your film better than the rest of your team.

  4. There is no excuse to not make the film you want to make because people are making great films with minimal resources.

  5. Don't expect every film you'll make will be great.

  6. Films get to places where you may have never even thought of going.

10. What keeps you motivated?

Just making films, being behind or in front of the camera is exciting. The entire process is the best thing to experience. There's a great line from the movie The Disaster Artist by James Franco "even the worst day on a movie set is better than the best day anywhere else"

11. How has your style evolved?

I do a lot more research now to keep things authentic. Along with that I try to create a cinematic language for the characters in the world they live in. Before Charlene my films were more about things I knew, but now I explore and dig deep into the social and psychological space of the world and characters I create.

2. Tell us about your background and when did you decide to become a filmmaker?

Having studied filmmaking, initially I only wanted to act and write scripts. Although I had made a couple of films when I was in school on my handycam, around 2014-2015 by the time DSLR and cell phone filmmaking became common I developed interest in making short films. Over time I realized I can translate my written work better than anyone because it is my creation and I understand it better than anyone else. I started off with making short films with my phone which lead greater opportunities and now I have my own production.

3. Films that inspired you to become a filmmaker?

There are many, but to name a few Taxi Driver by Martin Scorsese, Udaan by Vikramaditya Motwane, Volver by Pedro Almodovar, & most recently Joker by Todd Philips & Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho. Inspiration never ends.

4. Who is your biggest influence?

It depends on the situation. For personal life personal experiences of the past along with the cultural and family values which come from my parents. Professionally, people who have achieved something great tend to be very influential. For example, I was influenced to make a visually beautiful film when I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson because the visuals of the film were stunning or when I saw That Girl In Yellow Boots by Anurag Kashyap because it was brilliant cinema created on a very tight budget.

5. Do you have a favorite genre to work in? Why is it your favorite? 

As an audience I enjoy comedies, but I feel it is the most difficult genre to make. So far I have made arthouse dramas and thrillers. I have enjoyed making thrillers, but I feel my arthouse films have been better and the final product has been more satisfying. Four out of my Five films have addressed some social issue or psychological issue and that is something I want to stick to more than sticking to a particular genre. Along with that arthouse films allow me to tell human stories which is something I enjoy watching as an audience too. After all, cinema is a reflection of society. All that being said, I hope someday I will attempt to make a comedy, but it will require a fantastic script and a cast with great comic timing. Until then I will stick to arthouse, drama, and thrillers.

6. What's your all-time favorite movie and why?

My most favourite movie is Udaan by Vikramaditya Motwane. It is a coming-of-age drama which revolves around a father and son relationship. I think it's one of the finest film ever made.

7. If you could work with anyone in the world, who would that person be?

It is impossible to say one name but, if Martin Scorses would direct me, I would put everything aside and act for free. As a director there is a long list of actors I want to work with.

8. The one person who has truly believed in you throughout your career.

My family- especially my parents, my wife, my brother who has created the background score for my films(Charlene & Obsession) and my friend Kenny, who's been a part of all my projects.

12. On set, the most important thing is...

  1. Discipline

  2. Everyone should be prepared for their job

  3. Food and drinks

  4. Most importantly if it's an outdoor location we must be respectful and keep it clean.

13. The project(s) you're most proud of...

Charlene(Feature) & The Journey(Documentary)

14. The most challenging project you worked on. And why?

Charlene was the most difficult one so far because mainly because of the sensitive topic and it required a lot of research. There wasn't sufficient information regarding anthropophobia at that time so some cinematic liberties were taken while making the film.

15. What are your short term and long term career goals?

Short term plan is to keep making films and if possible support young filmmakers. Long term plan is to turn the production company into a studio and be able to travel around the world to make films.

16. Your next projects?

Currently I am developing a feature script. I hope it shapes up well because I have already scraped six drafts. The subject is quite interesting and is a little different from what I have done in the past. I've been doing research on it for the past four months because it is another harsh reality of society and the topic is a bit sensitive. It's important to get it right. Hopefully it should go on the floor to be shot soon.