Long distance inspiration

Posted by Charlotte on June 6, 2008 at 2:37 pm.

I had the pleasure of a completely unexpected call from a former classmate the other night, calling all the way from Pakistan.

It’s probably been close to a year since I last heard from Ali and to be honest I expected never to hear from him again, which made the phone call all the more fantastic.

Ali will be an amazing filmmaker, there’s no doubt about that. It’s in his blood. During our Masters I began to really like Ali as he lacks many of the social graces I do, in that he can’t tolerate bull***t, speaks his mind and isn’t afraid of putting people’s noises out of joint if they don’t agree with him. I’m not saying I always agreed with what he said, and that can be said from his perspective of me, but I certainly admired his complete focus to filmmaking and his constant desire to learn.

It was the first time I’d spoken to him since he completed his film and it was wonderful to just talk about the experience of making our respective films. We both shared an emotional rollercoaster in the process of the shoot, his far more so than mine as he was filming in Pakistan last summer throughout all of the numerous changes that happened in his country and the process left him drained and exhausted.

For the both of us the films had been less about an assignment as part of a course but our first chance to make films that we were desperate to make and to engage in something we were extremely passionate about.

Making a film about the Death Penalty challenged every sense of ethics, morality and justice that I have and really made me re-evaluate my own opinions in a way that has changed me forever. It was not an easy process and was mentally draining. Something I truly hope happens with every film that I make.

Ali’s experience was one that I can’t possibly comprehend, seeing his country combust whilst looking at it through a lens. Day in day out viewing political meltdown, death, grief and all the while dealing with the logistics of the shoot, while feeling as though you have to put your personal views of the situation to one side to remain impartial must have been unbelievably difficult. My experience pales in comparison.

Although he remains dejected about a large amount of the process, and still doubts and still feels frustrated it felt as though the experience had been worthwhile. Even though it feels like hell whilst it’s happening I can’t imagine Ali ever doing anything that wouldn’t push him to the extremes.
Making a light-hearted, safe film is just beyond his comprehension, and I hope mine.

More than anything the conversation made me feel extremely guilty that I haven’t picked up my camera for months. He was still in a place where the film was still consuming him and was still a massive part of his life, and I was jealous. It has been nearly a year since I finished the cut of my film that I submitted to uni and I felt ashamed.

I haven’t stepped back from documentary in any way but I have from filmmaking and my personal work. Although I have decided to put off attempting to be a full-time filmmaker for the time being, due to my lack of experience and need for further training, I am not using the camera enough and I am not in the mind set of just simply needing to be working at my filmmaking that I know Ali can never stop doing.

The phone call couldn’t have been more of a wake-up call and any better timed. My drive has returned and I have promised myself to make another film I care about before the end of the year.
So thank you Ali, even though you feel the film has pushed you to your limits you haven’t given up and you should be proud, and I can’t wait to see it.

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