I can’t say I have had many run-ins with many people from Britain before meeting England native Abid Khan. Being from Canada I wasn’t sure if the connection with England was current or relevant in the filmmaking industry. To my surprise, I found Khan’s perspective to be well connected with Canada’s goals. Khan is a director at Eyefive Films and is currently pursuing his first feature film titled Granada Nights. After seeing his short film Bardo, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, I saw Khan’s bravery and confidence as a filmmaker to convey a Lynchian inspired look. Khan’s style of storytelling is bold, aesthetically pleasing and detailed.
Although Bardo is the latest and more sophisticated project from Khan, it wasn’t until I watched his earlier short Say Something when I saw a direct connection to Canada. Being a Canadian and the bare honesty of a heart-bending story connected me more to this project than Bardo did. This cross Atlantic break up story was shot in Montreal, London and New York City assembling a collaboration between America, Canada and Britain. I believe the choice Khan made to involve this collaboration for Say Something is the same route Canada is beginning to make with their 54 partners in regions around the world. For this reason, I find Khan’s journey as a filmmaker relevant and accurate toward the direction Canadian filmmakers can convey to thrive in the industry.
Here is my exclusive conversation with Khan at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival:
What has your experience with Canadians at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival?
In Cannes I noticed Canadians in full force promoting films, film festivals and talent and the country itself. Most Canadians I’ve met seem to come from a tight knit community who care deeply about storytelling and promoting their peers. They really help each other out and I think that’s something people need to focus on more in this industry as competition seems to take over.
Being a British-Pakistani, I think there is a connection with Canada because of stories I have heard about the old Commonwealth. It’s also a special connection that I felt when I was in Canada. People received me with open arms and there’s a mix of cultures and minorities that make it a vibrant country full of opportunity.
I think it’s important to have a presence at International Film Festivals/Markets like Cannes. To meet international people, to connect and to learn about the international film community is both educational as well as a great opportunity to nurture future co-productions.
You shot your short film in Montreal, any specific reason for that location?
It started off as a pure coincidence. I was invited to Montreal for Christmas by a fashion designer I use to know and although I’ve been to Canada I was curious to know more about it. I was in the process of writing a script and looking for an American location and although I love NYC, it didn’t lend itself to the story. When I arrived in Montreal I knew this was the place I had to film but I only had three days. So I put a casting call out and met some wonderful artists including the multitalented actress Christina Sciortino who I starred in the experimental short SAY SOMETHING. It was a easy decision and quick shoot and learning exercise in how experiment in how to shoot guerilla in a foreign country. I have to say the cast, crew and locations did not disappoint. I only wish I had more time in Montreal to work on a bigger production. I have to say I was surprised about Canada because of the people. They were amazing. One day I would love to go back and shoot the shit out of Montreal.
Are you working on your next project? Is there any association with other countries?
I prefer to film abroad because I love the allure of the foreign, visual aesthetic and the fact that you are open to a new pool of talent. There is something exotic and something really exciting about working with talent from a different country. Currently I’m in development/pre-production stage of a self-discovery feature film called GRANADA NIGHTS. It’s a study abroad film with young international students set in Granada, Spain. I’m currently looking for international investors.
The plan was never to create an international film but the subject content of studying abroad has an international appeal. Hollywood may have a monopoly on film but story is universal. Low cost flights and the internet has made the World smaller. International collaboration and co-producing is becoming more and more popular and I want to be a part of that movement. We may not be part of Hollywood but we still have something to say, a story to tell.
By meeting filmmakers from around the world at Cannes I have learned that there are more doors opened when making a Canadian project in collaborations with other regions. After talking with filmmakers like Khan my understanding about what it means to create a “Canadian project” has changed. Making collaborations can widen the horizon for content, locations, actors, etc., that perhaps would not be possible within the filmmakers home country.
Made In Canada is about discovering how to emerge in the Canadian film industry, but this doesn’t mean filmmakers can’t thrive in other countries to create their image. The stress to create a “Canadian identity” shouldn’t be taken too seriously; filmmakers should find their own style, whether this be through collaborations or independently, which in turn will contribute to their countries identity.
Post by: Danica Oliva
To find more information about Abid Khan and his upcoming projects click the links below:
Granada nights link: http://www.granadanights.com
Eyefive Films: http://www.eyefivefilms.com
Say Something link: http://eyefivefilms.com/saysomething/