Bilal Hussain is an award-winning indie filmmaker, he has been making short films since eleven year's (present) He is a Pakistani-Canadian citizen, who lives in Esbjerg, Denmark and works at a local television station "Tv-Glad Esbjerg" as an reporter, anchor, cameraman & segment editor. Besides work and filmmaking, he has written two crime-fiction books, he has also been a film judge at the "Tokyo Lift-Off Sessions", "Box Short Film Festival" & "Istanbul Kisa Golden Film Festival".
"Jessica: Part Two" (2020) is a continues part of the first short film "Jessica" (2017) which centers on a disable women "Jessica Rasmussen" who breaks up with her boyfriend "Casper" in the first storyline. In the second storyline, "Jessica" focuses on her career and doesn't want any boyfriend. One-day a man "Markus" sees "Jessica" and wants to get to know her and wants to go out on a date with her. She tries very hard not to but at the end she gives him a chance, as everyone deserves a second chance in life. "Jessica: Part Two" (2020) is basically a romantic, drama, fiction, short film.
2: What are your ambitions with your project?
I made "Jessica: Part Two" in the year of 2020, at that time I thought it would do okay at the festival run but since then it has just blown away.
It's been two years now (2022) and at the moment it has 77. Official Selections - 1. Runner Up - 4. Semi-Finalist - 1. Quarter-Finalist - 15. Finalist - 33. Nominations - 15. Honorable Mention - 34. Awards. It's not released anywhere yet and I hope the short film is distributed so I can also earn money on it. The submissions have been very costly but it has been wrath every penny. I also hope one day to make a feature film on the same storyline or a mini-series.
3: Tell us something about your shooting? What pleasantly surprised you?
It went well but it was hard as it was in the Covid-19 time. All the actors & actresses did well and everything was on time. I was also very lucky to get the local bar in "Esbjerg" "Little London - English Pub & Pool" to give us the place to film one of the scenes. I would say it was a perfect shooting as everything went smoothly so nothing surprised me really.
4: For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
I think it's for everyone, also for the normal kids as they are curious and I think if they see this short film from a learning point of view then they can learn that normal people who aren't disable can have a relationship with a disable person (depending on the disability) It's also for the disable people, they can see nothing is impossible if you put all your mind into it.
5: Why should distributors buy your film?
The distributors should buy my short film because everyone can relate to the storyline in one way or the other, because it's about love, hope & giving the other person an extra chance. Because not many disable actors / actresses get screen time in movies and series. The distributors should also buy it because not many films have a fictional storyline centered on a disable character fictionally, which allows the audience to see that we are all equal human beings in this world.
6: How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
I have been an indie filmmaker since 2011 – 2022 (present) with eight short films so far, I can describe myself as an indie film director who is clear about his vision to tell unique storylines with some awesome twists and turns. When I am directing, I shut everything out of my brain and give all the time in the world to direct the film. Which I also want my team to do, I've been very lucky all these years that I got good actors / actresses who have done superbly in making my short films with me. I'm also contently looking into details of the storyline, characters, and dialogs on how to get superb shots on the film-set. "Jessica: Part Two" (2020) is my seventh short film, when I was writing and in the pre-production, I was thinking what can I do different, rather then just making it into a love-story which we have seen over and over again from Hollywood. "Jessica: Part Two" (2020) characterizes love, hope & extra chance in life.
7: Why did you decided to become a filmmaker?
I wanted to be a police officer but due to a disability "AAA-Syndrome", I will never be able to. So, I decided to turn to filmmaking. The disability means I am not physically strong and I love watching crime-drama short films, feature films and series but I also watch other genres as well so cinema is my life and in my blood. I also decided to become an indie filmmaker because I love storytelling, at the age of 18. I wrote my first Danish crime-fiction book "Detektivjagten" (2011) and at that time I was studying media at "Glad Fagskole Esbjerg" which is part of the television station "Tv-Glad Esbjerg" where I work at. Under my studies, I made two indie short films that gave me boost to tell more stories and make indie short films. Due to my work as a reporter, cameraman and segment editor for nine years now 2013 – 2022 (present) it's been easy for me to create fictional indie short films out of my daily life and to create other fictional storylines in my mind. While working I wrote my second crime-fiction book "Eagle Unit" (2015). If it wasn't for the media studies or my work, I would not have been able to become an indie filmmaker or not been able to became an award-winning indie filmmaker.
8: Who is your role model?
"Tony Scott" ("Man On Fire") "Ridley Scott" ("Body Of Lies") "Martin Scorsese" ("The Departed") "Christopher Nolan" ("The Dark Knight") "Thomas Vinterberg" ("Another Round") "Susanne Bier" ("The Undoing") "Francis Ford Coppola" (The Godfather") Many more but the list will be extremely long, these directors, writers, and producers are my role models because they are the masters of storytelling and directing. They have all unique style in filmmaking. I hope one-day to work with them all. Unfortunately Mr. Tony Scott (Man On Fire) is no longer with us but he was such a superb director, I would have done anything to write a crime-fiction feature film for him, which he could have directed. Maybe his brother Mr. Ridley Scott (Body Of Lies) will direct a film I will write one-day who knows. I cross my fingers for that Hahaha.
9: Which movies are your favorites? Why?
There are many great films out there in our beloved universe. I use to have favorite films in my head when I was young after watching them, but since I became an indie filmmaker at the age of 18. I understood what it means and what it takes to do this job. I am now 30. Year's old so, I don't really have any favorite films in particular. I love "The Dark Knight" (2008) for instants because the character "Joker" played by "Heath Ledger" is excellent because the character is superbly written and no one can guess what he will do next. I also love "Man On Fire (2004) with the characters "John W Creasy" ("Denzel Washington") & "Lupita Ramos" ("Dakota Fanning". The film "Man On Fire" (2004) is my favorite because again the characters are well written, I love the way where "Denzel's" character is trying to catch the bullet after loading his gun and he drinks a lot but he has to stop in order to save the little girl "lupita". I also love her character due to her acting, which is natural in the film from start to finish.
10: Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
I find my inspiration from watching short films, feature films and drama series. I mostly watch old movies, if I need to find some inspiration for a crime-drama then I will watch for instants "The Godfather" (1972) or "Goodfellas" (1990) If I need inspiration for a romantic-drama then I watch "What If" (2013) or "Going The Distance" (2010) These films are just to name a few but I watch other films as well, I also watch new films and see all the behind the scenes and watch interviews from the cast as well. Other than this I think very deeply, sometimes I will sit at a bar, café or mc donel's, I'll get a cup of coffee and sit with my laptop and start writing. So, there are many different ways I get my inspiration from.
11: Which topics interest you the most?
Crime, drama, romance, fiction & disability, it's also because I have made short films on these topics but I watch almost every kind of genre and topics so, almost every topic interests me as long as the storyline is compelling and gripping. For instants "CODA" (2021), which centers on a deaf family and only their daughter can hear everything who helps them out. She also wants a life of her own and wants to became a singer. The film has a great combination with disability, family and drama that was very interesting to me.
12: What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
I have made eight short films since 2011 – 2022 (present), my first five short films weren't good but in 2020 I made "The Wheelchair And The Trap" / "Jessica: Part Two" which I honestly didn't think will make it into the festival circuit or even if they did, they might just do okay but they have just gone kind of viral with over 75 selections and over 20 awards each so far. Right know I think these two short films are my greatest achievements. This year (2022) I have finished my eight short film which I am also very proud of and I am in the writing process of my first feature film so, I hope these films will be my next greatest achievements in the future.
13: What do you consider most important about filming?
Trust your film-team. Have patience, because anything can go wrong while filming, for instants camera batteries can die, lights might not work or if you're outside, it starts to rain and you can't get your scene finished so, be flexible in terms of that. Don't rush your shots to get your scenes finished. Listen to your actors / actresses, if they have a better idea in reformulating dialogs then try it but be true to yourself in what you want from your filming.
14: Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
There are many different techniques, there is no best way or the wrong way for shooting a short film / feature film. For example when I started making indie short films, I used two cameras for shooting the scenes but as I have gained experience so, now I use one camera and shoot many different angles with it. It's also because it's only me who is the cameraman, light-man and boom-operator on the set. It's very low budget indie short films I make at the moment and sometimes one of my friends, actors, or sometimes my mother who has been the boom-operator, which have been helpful. It all depends on how much experience you have, what kind of tools you have and which techniques you want to use to finalize your short film / feature film.
15: How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
At the moment our world is very modernize so, I am not so found of Hollywood's superhero films like for instants "Avengers" (2012), "Black Widow" (2021), "Doctor Strange" (2016) and many others. Although I have seen "Avengers" (2012) & "Black Widow" (2021), plus few others but I didn't really like them, nothing against those types of films but because I feel that they are all the same, they're unnatural and also there characterizations are not well written. I also feel like at the moment it's hard to find good films, which have something to tell from their hearts. Although last year there were good films like "King Richard" (2021), "CODA" (2021), "Belfast" (2021) & "West Side Story" (2021) among few others. I would say filmmaking in Hollywood is all right at the moment but not great, because almost very other film is a superhero film and also because the drama series have taken over. Hollywood should give people like me (indie filmmakers) a chance to write and direct a feature film. Sometimes it feels like Hollywood is running out of stories to tell. Hahaha.
16: What can disappoint you in a movie?
A film with bad storyline, without any good twists, bad acting and editing, the list can go on and on. For instants when LA LA Land (2016) came out in the cinemas, I was very excited to see it and I did in the cinema but it was little to long and also it has a strange ending, I needed to watch it few times before I understood it correctly and I have seen it many times now, it is a good film with good songs. So, mostly films with a bad start and bad ending can disappoint me the most.
17: Who supports you in your film career?
My parents, my sister, friends and actors, they are all very supportive but if we talk about support from government or any film company then no, there is no support at the moment. It's fine, I am managing but I hope one day to get support from film companies.
18: What are the reactions to your film? (opinion of spectators, film critics, friends and family)
There are great reactions. "Jessica: Part Two" was made in 2020, before I submitted it to film festivals, I had a closed screening in the cinema for my friends and parents who liked the short film very much. After that I sent it to film festivals around the globe, where it has done extremely well and it's been two years now (2020 – 2022) and it's still going strong at the festival run. It's not released yet on my YouTube (Bilal Productions Denmark) but hopefully this summer it will be then everyone can see it or hopefully distributed somewhere.
19: Have you already visited any of the prestigious film festivals?
No, not yet but I love to one day. It's also my dream one day to have a world premier of my feature film at "Cannes" and win the "Palme D'OR".
20: What are your future plans in filmmaking career?
I have made eight short films since 2011 – 2022 (present) and I am in the writing process of my first feature film as I mentioned earlier in the interview so, now my plans are to make feature indie films and from there hopefully get into Hollywood and make bigger films. I also have a dream to write and direct drama series like "Criminal Minds" (2005 – 2020) or "Homeland" (2011 – 2020). I would love one day to turn my book "Eagle Unit" (2015) into a drama series or mini-series. Everyone can fallow me on Instagram "Bilal Productions Denmark" to fallow my filmmaking career.
Thank you for a wonderful interview, I look forward to the festival.
IMDB - Bilal Hussain https://www.imdb.com/name/nm8707256/
YouTube - Bilal Productions Denmark https://www.youtube.com/user/nypd2000300
Instagram - Bilal Productions Denmark https://www.instagram.com/b.productions.dk/
Instagram - The Wheelchair And The Trap (2020) https://www.instagram.com/thewheelchairandthetrap/
Facebook - Esbjerg: Crime Family (2018) https://www.facebook.com/Esbjerg.Kriminelle.Familie
Facebook - Jessica: Part Two (2020) https://www.facebook.com/Jessica.DelTo2020
Facebook - The Wheelchair And The Trap (2020) https://www.facebook.com/The.Wheelchair.2020AndTheTrap
Facebook - Where Did The Love Go (2020) https://www.facebook.com/Where2021DidThe.LoveGo
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