Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Assalam alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatahu (don’t worry if you don’t understand this). Love, peace, blessings and wonderful things that taste good to all of you in the New Year.
Speaking of years ending – I’ve been cleaning out the attic of my subconscious and figuring out my goals for 2014. Yes, I know we’re almost a week into it. You could never accuse me of being on time for anything in my life.
I looked back at this herald call I issued myself some while ago. The one about getting on the “I’m making movies” train.
About that…
That sort of makes me want to puke.
But I think that’s a good thing.
Usually after making an important decision, I find myself a) second-guessing myself into digestive trouble and b) trying and failing to think about how to proceed.
So here I am, asking myself the hard questions, to put that second-guessing beast to bed once and for all.

The trying and failing can come later InshAllah.

And what are those hard questions?

I’m going to try and answer these as honestly as I can.

When did you first get the idea to become a writer/director?

This is a story in 3 parts.

Around 10 years ago when I was thinking about what to do with the rest of my life, I decided – in fact, I always knew – that I wanted to be a writer. I had grown to love movies over the years and I thought that I wanted to be involved in making them. My family didn’t let me – they said that I would be humiliated. That I would fail.

For many many years, I agreed with them.

Lots of humiliation and failures later, doing all the right things, I found myself writing a lot of short films.

Directors showed interest, but never followed through. I became frustrated.

It was hard, but it didn’t seem like rocket science, this directing business. Why couldn’t I do it myself?

I’ve tried a few times but I didn’t give it my all. Because I still held this spurious belief – that only humiliation and failure can come from it.

I also held the belief that I wasn’t a leader.

A few more film-set experiences later, I am where I am now. And I’ve learned a lot of things. Failure is a badge of honor in the film world . It means you had the ‘nads to try.

And my word, there’s rarely a zero-sum experience with film-making. I learn so much and meet so many amazing people and that alone is worth the price of admission.

And as for being a leader – on one of my report cards when I was about 11, my teacher wrote that I had ‘leadership qualities’. I wonder where I lost them along the way.
I think I’m going to pretend I’m still 11 years old and still a leader. Lord knows I haven’t grown an inch.

I know it’ll probably be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But insha Allah, it’ll be worth it.


What is motivating you?

Oh this is the tricky one.

Frustration as yet. Not passion.

A desire, even a desperation, to see my work on screen. There’s that bad word, Ava DuVernay!

My biggest fears about embarking on this journey are straining my wonderful peaceful marriage and the fact that my temperament might be ill-suited to being a director.

I consider myself shy. Soft spoken. Deferential. A little afraid to ask for what I want. Too quick to admit defeat.

I know to a great degree, society and my family have a vested interest in keeping me a follower, not a leader.

However, how much of this is just the way I am? The way I prefer to be?

Frustration might not be the best place to start. But maybe at some point, it will turn into passion.

Who were you at that time?

At first, a scared young woman.

Then an unloved, desperate, slightly older woman

Now, a young-at-heart loved woman, eager to experience new things.

Where were you?

All this time, Dubai. Fast-paced, advanced, but the film industry is still nascent. Not a lot of support in place yet for indie filmmakers.

Lately Denver, after a short stint in Colombo.

The environment is, needless to say, very different here. The sheer amount of film festivals here for every kind of subject matter, from the environment to feminism, is astounding.

There’s a great deal of resources available to me, both about learning and doing, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.How were you feeling at the time?

Victimized at first.

Scared now. Excited. I have a feeling there’ll be some painful growth experiences. And I hope and pray that I have support.

Why are you interested in becoming a writer/director?

The fact is, in any case, I need an idea that I’m passionate about enough to pursue till the ends of the earth.

I’ve a few ideas that I’ve been working on, but they may have too high a budget for a no-name director.

What I need is a absolutely killer one-location limited character script.

Need to find a suitable idea first.

Then spend the time needed to make it bulletproof.

Where am I going to get the skills I need?

I took one screenwriting class in college.

I’ve pretty much been mainlining GITS for the past two years, the Scriptnotes podcasts, and other avenues for other info.

In fact I should make a list of the few places I focus on to study – for my own benefit as well as others.

Where do I learn about filmmaking? 

I don’t know yet, but here’s where I think I could get a good start.


From helping out with other filmmakers.

Making my own shorts.

Failing up the wazoo.

Fact is, I find I have rather unflinching standards. They hurt me sometimes. But I guess they’re a part of who I am.

I don’t want to write an idea that doesn’t excite me.

Or direct a script that is less than great.

Or direct at all until I’m reasonably sure of how to go about it.

Yes, I think there’ll be a sizeable amount of research involved.

I appear Alhamdulillah to have come to a cautious decision.

Thanks for listening, folks.

God bless you and Happy New Year!

Sabina – the Happy (and excited!) Muslimah

2 thoughts on “Writing/Directing

  1. Self doubt is somewhat natural, being sure about your abilities and achievements all the time is probably not good, because it prohibits from learning and growing. At the same time visualising the goal, seeing yourself in the theatre while your movie is on the screen and people enjoying what your movie is a very good motivation. It doesn’t have to do with a subject, as much as it has to do with the outcome.

  2. Hmmmm…thanks Panayiota. I’ve tried visualization over the years. Somehow when I’m thinking about it, it doesn’t work. It works better when I’m just day-dreaming!

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