Please introduce yourself and tell us about your education and your interest in cinema.
My name is Bilal Hussain, I am 29. Years old, Pakistani – Canadian and soon to be a Danish citizen. Currently I work as a reporter, cameraman and segment editor at a local television station “Tv-Glad Esbjerg”. I am also an award-winning indie filmmaker and have a diploma in media education. I started making indie short films in the year of 2011. When I was 18 years old. While studying media at “Glad Fagskole Esbjerg” I made two short films “Tycho Brahe” (2011) & “Raptores”. (2012) same year (2011) I also wrote my first crime-fiction Danish book “Detektivjagten”. Four years later (2015) I wrote my second crime-fiction English book “Eagle Unit” since then I have written, directed and produced five indie short films “Drug Life” (2015) “Jessica” (2017) “Esbjerg: Crime Family” (2018) “The Wheelchair And The Trap” (2020) “Jessica: Part Two” (2020) This year (2021) I celebrated ten years as an indie award-winning short filmmaker and crime-fiction book writer (2011 – 2021) At the moment I am in postproduction of my sixth indie short film “Where Did The Love Go” which will be ready and will be sent to film festivals in 2022 and this will be my eight indie short film in total. My interst in cinema has been since childhood, I saw films and series with my dad and time to time we still do as well. Cinema is my life.
Link: IMDB (Website)
Link: “Eagle Unit” (Amazon)
Seeing and reading what works aroused your interest in this medium, and as a result, what works do you owe your education in cinema to?
I love watching movies and series with different genres, mostly fictional because I love to get lost in that world. For instens the film “Taxi Driver” (1976) by “Martin Scorsese”, which is a great exemple, it has lot’s of different emotions and has that rough look of New York city. Also, the acting by Robert Di Niro is superb. These elements in filmmaking arouses me and I learn from them.
Tell us about your first project. What difficulties did you have in the beginning?
It was a memorable experience which had lot’s of learning and filmmaking developments, as I mentioned earlier in the interview the first indie short film was a school project “Tycho Brahe” (2011) at the school I and my classmates learned how not to show the main charcters face, writing, filming, editing and etc. The difficult things were mostly filming, finding the right music and also colorgrading to give that right look to the short film. I was also the actor and I remember it was in Febuary (2011) lot’s of snow and in Denmark it is very cold so it was very hard to be outside for many hours but I loved it. I had great media teachers “Claus Christnsen” & “Mikael Z. Wolf”. If it waren’t for them then I would not have been able to make indie short films at this level and beyond one day (Hollywood). Unfortounatly Mikael has died of cancer, which is very sad and I miss him. God bless him in heaven.
Link: “Tycho Brahe” (YouTube)
Link: “Raptores” (YouTube)
Is it more important to have a budget, or to have the mind to find salvation solutions in critical situations?
No, it’s not important to have a budget, because at the start of filmmaking it’s more important to write a compelling storyline, film with any camera, ask your friends or family to help out and send it to film festivals. Put all your mind and energy into what you want to gain with your storyline, which audience you want to show the film too and what’s your goal with the film. From experince I can say that it has helped me since I started making indie short films ten years ago and I still continue to do so. Best advice I can give to upcoming indie filmmaker and film students, start of with short storylines, build your way up and most importantly never give up because people will have many opinions good and bad. Which will hurt but show everyone that you’re willing to go the extra mile and prove them wrong by making the best film ever.
Do you think film festivals help filmmakers?
It depends on how filmmakers look at it. I think film festivals help because they give honest judging of the filmmakers film, they also promote the films and the filmmakers, they help them to be interviewed in the film magazines like this (“Rome Cinephillia”) So, in that regards the film festivals help in many different ways.
Tell us about film production companies. Can one, as an inquisitive filmmaker, count on production companies?
Film production companies are important in many ways but they are not necessary because one can make a film production company at home which can start of to be a non-profit and can be run voulanterly. But if the filmmaker want’s to write, direct or produce a major blockbuster Hollywood film than it is important to approach a major film company like “Universal Studios”, “Lions Gate” and etc..
Link: “Bilal Productions Denmark” (YouTube)
How much of the future of cinema do you think is in the hands of powerful companies like Netflix?
I think they have lot’s of power because I personally think they have overtaken the major film companies like “Universal Pictures”, “Lions Gate” and etc.. Almost every movie now a days is produced by “Netflix” or other streaming outlets which is great but the films are not in the cinemas, even if they do it’s only for limited periode of time. Cinema is dying due to this, it’s very rare people now a days go to the cinema to watch a film. Personally I love to see new films in the cinema and old films on streaming. Nothing against “Netflix” or other streaming outlets, I do use them to watch series but films have to be seen in the cinema because the feeling is not the same at home. I really hope that the cinema doesn’t die fully and the art of filmmaking is alive for all eternity.
Link: “Esbjerg Crime Family” (Facebook)
Is cinema, as some say, dead, and should we expect television and Internet broadcasts to be gaining more and more power?
I agree, cinema is dead, as I mentioned earlier, streaming sites have lot’s of power but the telvision and the internet have also lot’s of power when it comes to films. For instens, a new upcoming filmmaker who has written, directed or produced a feature film he/she can easly upload it to YouTube or Vimeo and share the link to everyone who then can share it with whoever they want and the chain goes on and on. It’s a good way to show everyone one’s craft but new films are meant to be seen in the cinema.
What skills do you think a filmmaker needs to have? Is it necessary for the filmmaker to personally understand many specialized subfields?
Drink lot’s of coffee, hehe. Jokes on the side. Be creative, open to ideas, have eye on detail and stick to what you want. Specialization in subfields is not necessary but if a filmmaker knows them than that is a bonus in filmmaking. I can speak shortly about myself on this question, I have been luckey to learn many different things of media which has helped me in making indie short films and I have made many which gained my experience more and more in almost all fields of filmmaking.
Link: Bilal Productions Denmark (Instagram) https://www.instagram.com/b.productions.dk/
Tell us about your next project, please.
As I mentioned earlier in the interview, I am in postproduction of my eight short film “Where Did The Love Go” which will be ready in 2022 for the film festivals. After that I would like to make my own doc. About the ten years as an indie award-winning filmmaker, I have also written a synopsis for a LGBT crime-fiction feature film (although I am not from the LGBT community) Beside all this, I am writing my first Christmas romantic-drama feature film which I hope one day can make it to the big screen in Denmark and world-wide. Basically I am busy all the time.
Thank you for this wonderful interview, check out these links to my projects.
Link: “The Wheelchair And The Trap” (Facebook)
Link: “Jessica: Part Two” (Facebook)
Link: “Where Did The Love Go” (Facebook)