BPF recently met up with the young and talented
filmmaker Suman Hanif
Suman Hanif is a Yorkshire based filmmaker. With the passion for creative storytelling the young filmmaker aims to connect people through the medium of film. Suman’s films are dedicated to exploring social, cultural and environmental concerns with the intention to empower, unite and encourage positive actions in the society.
1. How and why did you get into filmmaking?
I found interest in the media industry at a very young age. I often questioned myself to what went behind in the making of such fascinated images that griped me to the screen. I started making my own short films on the phone. I used to experiment with sound and effects to create a story. This became my favourite hobby.
After graduating with a first-Class honors degree in 2016 I made my first documentary film ‘Plates, Food Waste Vs Food Poverty’. The film was about Food Poverty and Food waste in the UK and how it impacts society. My film featured interviews of MP Naz Shah, Leeds City Council, Love Food Hate Waste organisation, FareShare Yorkshire, Jamie’s Ministry of Food and many others. After launching, my film was screened at the Busan Film festival, Leed’s Millennium Screen, Bradford’s City Screen and at DoccyMcDocfest. The film was further highlighted in the press such as BBC Asian Network, and Telegraph & Argus.
I made some co-operate videos for the local business and charities to build my portfolio. Soon after I was commissioned to make short film by Age UK and Bradford City of film.
This year I am taking a step further and producing my first British Asian Feature Film ‘Amara and Family’. Inspired my real-life incidents, the project aims to break various stigmas in the British Pakistani community. This film will be made in Bradford for an audience worldwide.
2. What three qualities do you feel a movie maker should have?
Passion, Passion and Passion for storytelling. For a lot of working professional’s filmmaking is not a job it’s a passion. The film industry is extremely competitive, for me my passion kept me going through the challenging periods.
Problems Solving. Filmmaking is not simple as some people perceive.
3. What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
I don’t watch a lot of films but when I do it’s mostly for work purposes. Alfred Hitchcock’s films are really inspiring to me. His films are both artistic and meaningful. These two elements are often challenging for filmmakers to balance in their films.
4. Why do you think there are so few women from the Asian community in film making?
I am surprised that I have not crossed paths with female filmmakers from the Asian community. It could be because of the culture barriers or the fact that filmmaking has never been conventional career option for Pakistani women.
5. What has been your most exciting film?
My first documentary film was the most exciting and memorable project for me. The film’s success gave me a lot of confidence as an independent filmmaker.
6. Is it harder to get started in this industry or to keep going, remaining current and fresh?
To get started in the industry you need to be very focused throughout and avail every good opportunity that comes your way. It’s still important to have dreams but equally important to plan how you can realistically fulfil them.
7. Do you feel filmmakers have a responsibility to Culture?
Yes, I do feel that filmmakers should have a responsibility to culture. Culture, traditions and values make us who we are. A filmmaker’s background and culture can be reflected and seen through their films. When we watch films, we learn about other people’s lives and their cultures which we may not experience in everyday life. Thus, reflecting various cultures in films will help develop and connect communities.
I also believe that old traditions alive in their films, so the upcoming generations can watch and reflect.
8. Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back to the community or tell a particular story?
For me filmmaking is about discovering human complexities in all forms and shapes. As a filmmaker, I want to discover stories that are not heard or found. My community is also my audience. In my films, I try to explore the growing concerns in the communities and try providing a solution in my films.
9. What is the “one” topic you would like to make a film about and why?
I would like to make a film about the growing concern of child labour in Pakistan. During my last visit, I was heartbroken to see so many young children working on the streets and even as servants in people’s houses. I once asked one of the young boy working in a café ‘why he is not going to school?’ He didn’t reply. His silence left me curious.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?
My advice to someone who wants to make a career in film would be to research the industry and learn about the different theories and concepts of filmmaking. One of the best way to do this is by volunteering on a film set in a junior role.
11. Do you ever consider becoming a mentor or teach workshops?
In the future, Yes. I am always keen on developing my knowledge and method filmmaking as much as I like sharing my knowledge and experience with others that have the same passion.
12. What words of encouragement would you give young aspiring filmmakers of today?
Don’t wait for anyone else to give you hope because it’s least likely to happen. We are all a lot more capable then we often think. It’s about finding your strength and accepting your weaknesses. No one is perfect, but we can always be better then yesterday.