Be it independent projects or blockbusters, one industry that continues to surprise and impress us is the film making industry. While setting high expectations and hopes from established filmmakers has become a norm, audience is always craving for new, unprecedented concepts too. We have new filmmakers debuting every year, contributing to the industry without diminishing the classic cinematic creation and adding another movie into the list of local cinematic excellence is the upcoming release ‘Bits of What I Have’. The thought-provoking drama focuses on two days in the life of an aging writer who is in the brink of extinction and a youthful soul who is in utter need of inspiration and happens to seek it in the arms of an anguished writer. Weekender had a conversation with team members, Writer and Director ‘Saleh Sharif’, Co-Producer ‘Zeeshan Jawed Shah’ and Associate Producer ‘Riaz Ali’, on the highs and lows of movie making and how anyone can relate to this movie’s concept.
W.Does the story hold any personal meaning to you?
Saleh: I consider the film a very special project to me and my team. It is my first feature film and that too one of the very first scripts I wrote. I came up with the basis of the story while reading about many famous authors, artists and musicians who had not achieved fame during their own lifetime but was only appreciated many years after their death. It made me wonder about their daily lives and personal experiences especially as they had no ego of fame.
W. What will the movie bring new to the screen, not experienced before by the audience?
Saleh: While writing the script for Bits of What I Have, I took inspiration from many classical independent films and directors. So in a way this film brings back the ideas and methodologies from this era. The screenplay consists of many long shots as well as the use of natural lighting and sounds that are rarely seen anymore in today’s cinema. I hope the audience will appreciate these aspects of the film while also finding it a fresh experience as opposed to the generic commercial cinema they are always used to.
W. Why did you choose Turkey for your shooting destination?
Saleh: Turkey was chosen as it immensely suited the story-line and the different perspectives of the film. Istanbul is a city in which old ideas and modern lifestyles take place side by side and very much influences each other. So the locale and feel of the movie turned out to be very much in line with what I had imagined when I penned the script. Another reason was, we received a lot of help from the local talent who supported us even though we had a very small budget. We shot the film using the best of equipment and the best of technical talent. If we were to shoot the film anywhere else in the GCC region, it would have cost us up to 4-5 times the amount we spent.
W. How long did the project take? Any major setbacks did you have to face during production?
Saleh: There were many hurdles we faced in every section of the filmmaking process. There was not even one day without tensions and problems. But overcoming these hurdles is the best and most exciting part of making films. The Production and the Post-Production process took approximately one and a half month. We hired the equipment for a month, and we could not afford it for a prolonged time, so we were tight regarding shooting time. We had to complete the whole shoot working hard days, sleepless night, and never compromising on the quality.
W.How far along do you think this movie will help in giving a major boost to the local film industry scenario?
Zeeshan: I have produced so far three movies and released them in the Bahrain Cinema; I mainly worked with the students who have the potential to create a film, because I believe every talent needs a push, and I became that push for them. However, this time we tried to bring the serious and real cinema. The main reason was to spread the awareness that the movies are not always about action, visual effects and special effects, and the main ingredient that makes a movie is its story.
W.What do you think are the strengths in Bahrain and what are the major weakness when it comes to movie making?
Zeeshan:The major strengths I see is the growing interest and the potential among the students. However, if I have to chose a major weakness that will be a lack of support and grants. We had struggled a lot to finance the movie, and after knocking on every door, we went across the border for the help.
W.Why should the audience watch Bits of What I Have?
Zeeshan: “Bits of What I Have” is not a story of two characters; it is a story that exists in our society in every home and every person. We can easily relate ourselves to the characters of the movie, and the situation they are going through, and how they overcome them.
W. When it comes to meeting international standards of movie-making, what major elements did you make sure were of flawless quality and presentation?
Zeeshan: We tried our best to maintain both technical and creative qualities. We mainly emphasized on editing, color grading, and lighting on the technical level. On the other hand, we also emphasized on rhythm and flow of the story, the performance of the character, and the timings on a creative level.
W. Is it true some kind of movie genres are always safer to work with as opposed to others?
Zeeshan: It is believed by many that genres like horror, action, and science fiction often require strenuous efforts, and, on the other hand, romantic, comedy and drama movies require fewer efforts. However, I believe it is not the genre that makes the difference, and it is the story or script that decides if it is safer to work upon or not.
Three Things Any Good Movie Must Have?
1) The content of the film:
If the audience is not interested in the content, they are not interested in the movie.
2) The relation of that content with the actors
Co-relation between actors and the content is really important.
3) Mise en scène
Why is it so critical? In studying movies, mise en scene is esteemed for setting the tone, feeling and importance of the shot.
Just changing the cinematography can change the whole look and feel of a film.
As the director is the captain of the ship, the success or failure of a film rests on his shoulders.
Many great directors agree to the fact that films are going to make it or break it in the editing room.
As it defines every aspect of the film.
As it is what captures the audience and it’s what stays with the audience even after the film ends.
3) Technical Aspect
Which will include camera work, sound, editing, coloring etc.