Guest post from filmmaker Eyad Zahra, discussing his DIY experience with his first feature film “The Taqwacores.” “The Taqwacores” world premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and it will be opening in New York City at the East Village Cinema on October 22nd. To learn more, visit www.punkislam.com. My first feature film, The Taqwacores, opens in New York City tomorrow (Oct 22nd) at the Village East Cinema. It’s been one heck of a grind to get it to this point, with so many people helping along the way, at nearly every stage of the process. This was a true DIY film, made with the help of Cleveland’s punk community, and produced out of the basement of my parents house with the help of my filmschool friends.
Let me pause a second to give a big shout-out to the key players of my team: Allison Carter (Co-Producer/Line Producer), Michael Muhammad Knight (Co-Producer, Co-Writer), Nahal Ameri (Associate Producer/Production Legal), Joshua Rosenfield (Editor/Post-Supervisor/Trailer Editor), and JP Perry (Director of Photography, Colorist).
Let our film be a sign of hope to other filmmakers. If our ultra low budget movie about a subculture, of a subculture (punk Muslims) can play in thirty international film festival and land solid distribution deals in the US, France, and UK, that means anything can happen. Don’t get bogged down by the negative stuff out there, this really is an incredible time to be an indie filmmaker.
I remember back in September of 2007, I was hanging out with my Florida State University film school alumni pals, which included Adele Romasnki and Justin Barber. Over hummus and carrots, we were discussing the kinds of movies we wanted to make, and how we were gonna pull them off. All three of us, eventually went out and made our films, and all three films were able to get distribution deals. Justin produced Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melencholy (IFC), Adele produced David Robert Mitchell’s The Myth of The American Sleepover (IFC), and I produced and directed The Taqwacores (Strand Releasing).
What our films had going for them was the fact that they were all very original, and all were made at a very high quality level. I think we all preferred making our films in this DIY manner, as we were all in control of our visions, and we didn’t have any sort of studio-like executives telling how to do things. In a way, we actually were at a place where it takes some filmmakers years in their careers to arrive at. We were making personal films that had great commercial value, and we had final cut rights.
What more could a filmmaker want?
We need to do a better job of educating filmmakers on this DIY style of making films, film schools especially. Every major film school should be teaching how to make these kinds of films. Today, filmmakers can easily be coming out of film schools with features, and not just shorts. The technology has become beyond affordable for curriculums to support that.
Thankfully Ted’s blog is also an incredible resource for DIY filmmaking. I gotta take a second to thank Ted for sharing his life-long knowledge on the craft, and his willingness to constantly explore fresh, new ideas of the filmmaking frontiers. We need more blogs like Ted’s out there.
We need to empower, encourage, and excite tomorrows filmmakers. We can’t be stuck in the rut of saying things are not the same as they used to be. I can only see things getting better.
Eyad gives an in-depth presentation about the do and don’ts of DIY indie filmmaking through a workshop he has created called “DIY NOW”. He has presented “DIY NOW” at USC and most recently at the ABU DHABI FILM FESTIVAL. To learn more about DIY NOW, contact EYAD at firstname.lastname@example.org