By Sonya Rehman
Rizwan Saeed has to be one of the most unassuming individuals who comprises of the budding local media scene, currently.
Young, and down-to-earth, with his long-ish, shaggy hair, and easy-going nature, he strikes you as one of those excessively creative flower children (minus the tree-hugging!).
Part of ‘Talking Filmain’ – a production house operating from Lahore – Rizwan works in the capacity of an editor, a producer and more recently, as a director for the company which was initiated by Rizwan and two of his long-time, closest friends; Nasir Khan and Adil Sher.
Recently, a Pakistani film (‘Kashf: The Lifting of the Veil’) which Rizwan worked on as an editor, was premiered in New Mexico at the ‘Santa Fe Film Festival’. But that’s not the only news, as Rizwan was short-listed (along with three other editors) out of 250 for ‘Best Editing’ at the festival.
“I’m currently directing a sitcom called ‘Life’ which is about eight people”, Rizwan states. Previously, he edited Talking Filmain’s bold documentary called ‘Made in Pakistan’ which was shot last year and comprises of the lives of four, young Pakistanis in the wake of Pakistan’s tumultuous political scenario.
The documentary took Rizwan eight long months to edit, while it only took him four months to edit ‘Kashf’.
“Editing is very tedious”, he says, “You need to be really focused. And documentary editing is very different from editing music videos and sitcoms. But actually editing documentaries is the hardest. This is because with documentaries there really is no script – and, along with that you have to make more segments, revise over the segments and make further changes as you go along.”
It comes as no surprise when Rizwan tells me that he’s completely self-taught. These days, with the lack of good filmmaking institutions, many aspiring filmmakers put themselves through a thorough ‘trial and error’ process, while desperately probing for opportunities and experiences whenever, and wherever they can.
Even the few institutes within Pakistan which offer degrees and courses in filmmaking aren’t exactly ‘all that’.
This is because many courses are completely ‘DIY’ (Do It Yourself) – which if you look at it from one perspective can be challenging, but on the other hand, for someone who doesn’t know how to operate programs and cameras – the whole DIY shebang can be excessively daunting!
But coming back to Rizwan, before ‘Talking Filmain’ waltzed into his life and changed it inside out, upside down and completely 360, he was buying and selling stocks and shares. “I realized it wasn’t what I really wanted to do”, the young filmmaker says looking back, “it was all too stressful and not really my type.”
A well-known local channel, of late, held its ‘Telefilm Festival 2008’ and Talking Filmain’s ‘14 Din’ (14 Days) bagged a number of awards. And in the telefilm, Rizwan played a dual role of an editor and a co-producer.
Slowly, yet surely, ‘Talking Filmain’ finds itself expanding as not only do they have fresh, new faces featuring in their productions, but also three aspiring editors on board out of which Rizwan has trained all three. The days now look more promising, perhaps clouded by slightly lesser doubt. Because looking back and reminiscing, Rizwan tells me how difficult it was for ‘Talking Filmain’ to truly launch itself.
Nasir, Adil and Rizwan worked exceptionally hard – working together in a cramped room – to instigate the wheels of their production house to finally get rolling. But it was never fifth gear from day one. It was slow and steady.
But perhaps now, these young men – full of aspirations of churning out good quality entertainment for local and foreign audiences, find themselves in a steady fourth gear.
Just one notch higher and they’ll be speeding down countless highways with the music cranked up, and their windows rolled down just a little more.