The Janner is Zaki Syed’s first film. A tough thriller about a student trying to provide. We caught up with him to ask about the experience…
D&CFilm: How did you find the process of making your first film?
Zaki Syed: The filmmaking process started with writing, and after writing for about 6 months on various screenplays, I mustered up the courage to post an advert for crew members on various Facebook pages, including D&CFilm.
At first it was scary, because I had no filmmaking experience and I was asking complete strangers to put their trust in me, and I in turn put my trust in them.
I didn’t know if anyone would reply to the advert, fortunately 4 people did; that was a confidence boost.
There were a few hiccups along the way.
After pre-production, on the first days shoot, 5 mins before filming… my cinematographer/ cameraman bailed on me and didn’t return to the project. Murphy’s law in action.
That was a tough day, but things going wrong is a rite of passage for first time filmmakers.
Then a week later my editor bailed too, damn. But in spite of this we just cracked on with it.
The majority of filmmakers that don’t make it, are the ones that don’t follow through and finish, because all projects have these sort of problems. We had to finish.
Casting was a tense time. I didn’t hold any auditions because, 4 people replied to the casting call… all 4 are in the movie. For the rest of the roles, I was scrambling to fill amongst friends.
But everyone involved did an amazing job and I couldn’t have been more happier with the performances. Especially because many were acting on screen for the first time. For those actors who were on multiple shoot days, I could noticably see their performance getting better.
That was a good feeling, because we were all there for one reason, to get better at what we do.
Overall, the entire filmmaking process was an amazing and invaluable experience, from writing, through to production, then editing; I made many, many mistakes, but learned a lot. I met some cool people, that I hope to be working with in the future.
This project wouldn’t have been completed without their dedication and commitment throughout.
It was so much fun and I can’t wait to start the next project.
D&CFilm: Where did the inspiration come from?
Zaki Syed: It’s based on my life as a drug dealing student trying to support his pregnant girlfriend… Only joking, my girlfriend’s not pregnant.
In all seriousness, it’s not based on any of my experiences and the idea didn’t come from anywhere specific; I may have ordered a pizza at the time but that’s about it.
I had written a feature length script, but it was too inexperienced to make a feature length film, so I started writing a couple of shorts.
I decided to write crime thrillers because it’s a genre that I find interesting.
Drugs are a strange topic, because they sit on the fringe between being illegal, but prevalent in society.
So there is an element of mystery surrounding it, but enough familiarity for people to relate to. I then asked myself, how would I sell drugs; from there it sort of snowballed.
I think it’s just my fantasy of what a drug dealer would be like in that situation.
D&CFilm: What’s next?
Zaki Syed: I’m going to take a couple of days off to find my bearings. I have written another short film, and I’m going to start pre-production for that July 14th 2018.
So if anyone wants to collaborate, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can start a dialogue.
Then, once the second short is finished, I’m going to straight away tackle a feature length film.
I just want to end by thanking D&CFilm, them reaching out was a nice and supportive gesture on their part.
D&CFilm: Thanks Zaki! Good luck with your next film!