The Next Steps

By Saba Ahmed

Everyone has their own individual path that leads them to realizing why they want to be apart of the creative industry. The reasoning behind my spark with filmmaking is as specific as it can get. My parents did not play a bunch of the traditional classic Hollywood movies that inspired me to make films; I grew up watching Bollywood films. I wasn’t given a camera at the age of 8 and made little short skits with my friends; I mainly took “photoshoot” pictures for my older sisters when they dressed up. My introduction to filmmaking was editing, but before I dive into that let me give you some background about me.

My family is made up of my parents, my one brother and my two sisters (I am the youngest). My dad moved to the USA around the same time I was born in Pakistan. When I was two, we all moved from Pakistan to the suburbs an hour outside of Philadelphia. The intention of my parents move was to build a better life for my siblings and I. For us to have standard careers and to become successful. Filmmaking was definitely not on their radar as what they saw in my future, but it’s something they have learned to accept.

Since my siblings are much older than me, they all got married when I was super young. In my culture, weddings last for multiple days and with these multiple days means lots of photos and videos. One of my sisters got married in August 2008 (when I was in 3rd grade) and shortly after this was when I was introduced to filmmaking through editing. I discovered a fun little software called Windows Movie Maker on my sisters computer and began to import in all the photos and videos from the wedding and add music to make sort of a “visual scrapbook”. As simple as it was, this visual scrapbook began my learning of telling stories. Instead of just photos over some music I would take specific love songs and tell the story of my sister’s wedding by matching the lyrics of the songs to corresponding visuals. This was where I learned many simple yet fundamental techniques that I still use to this day.

Fast forward a couple years, middle school was when I was first introduced to Adobe Premiere and high school was when everything kicked into gear. I got involved immediately with the film classes that were offered my freshman year and the following three years I was apart of RedAlert a 20 minute live show production that aired every Friday. I took on the role of a crew member my sophomore year and producer my junior and senior year. This show taught me how to seriously edit, to write and bring a package together, to pitch an idea, along with more specific live TV roles such as using a switcher, directing for live TV, and even anchoring live (my least favorite yet still beneficial to my learning). I was fortunate enough to know what I loved from a very young age which helped guide where to go for college and what to be involved in.

For me, community has been a very big part of my filmmaking career at Temple University. I was fortunate enough to help found and be the founding President of DKA a Professional Cinematic Society this past year and watch our community go from 14 members to 42 in just one year. With many of these members, I was able to make my debut as Director of Photography and work on a short film called “Stuck in a Hard Place” which is now in post-production. Lastly, I have gotten pretty involved on campus by creating content for many organizations. This has built a great foundation of networking skills for me. Below is a t-shirt promo I shot and edited for a campaign on campus.

These past two years I have really focused on the kind of storyteller that I want to be. What I am starting to realize is my roots (yes the silly wedding video edits) have shaped what is important to me when it comes to filmmaking: telling real stories. Learning about places, people, certain ideas, whatever it may be, and telling this story authentically. I am dedicated to understanding the best way to tell stories that may not be my own but need to be shared.

I was immediately inspired by JTWO and their commitment to telling stories authentically. Their impact on their community through capturing stories of people, places, companies, etc got me really excited to apply to be an intern here. Now that I am here, I am eager to learn more about my specific passion which is cinematography however still grow in all of its surrounding parts because each is fundamental to telling a story.

This project was created as part of the JTWO [INC]ubator Project. A semester long internship program built from the ground up to give young filmmakers, content creators, and all around hungry for a challenge individuals a place to stretch their creative minds while preparing them for the road ahead.

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