It’s not always easy being a young Muslim kid growing up in London.
On the one hand, you’ve got one of the most beautiful beacons for diversity in the world, a haven where anyone can find a ‘group’ they fit in to, and more tolerance for Islam than you might find in most Muslim countries! On the other hand, you have idiots using the religion’s name to justify insane acts, media that can be unfairly sensational towards Muslims and a growing sense of Islamophobia that is spreading from fringe far right groups to members of the general public.
The Problem: Peeps don’t understand what Islam is sayin’ yo!
The Solution: Show peeps what Islam really is!
I guess it was this dichotomous climate that brought two East Londoners together to make a film about inspiration and diversity. We knew that positive messages from young Muslims were not getting the coverage they deserved, and the only solution to this was being truly creative – and that’s how the film ‘Inspire’ came about!
When Awais Ali, full-time dental student pitched the idea to myself, a full-time Project Manager, I thought he was insane. We had 3 weeks (we wanted it done before Ramadan) to make a film with roughly 20 actors, no budget, no help, and pretty much no experience. Yet, the more we spoke about the project, the more real it became. Alas, within a week, we had a final script, a make-shift storyboard, a couple of people who said they’d help, and a camera we barely knew how to use. A couple of desperate Facebook posts and countless calls later, we had a small cast.
On the first day of shooting, we cheekily thought we could pull an Ed Wood and film in a train station if we weren’t being disruptive, but we were pulled aside after a few minutes and the woman casually slipped in the word ‘terrorist threat’. Instead of taking this to heart, we took a train to the main office and spoke to the manager. After a heartfelt conversation, we were given an entire train platform to shoot on, as well as full access to film on crowded trains! This is just one of countless stories that inspired us every step of the way to bring this project to light.
Every time the project looked like it was going to fail, someone would pull through with a solution that was better than what we originally intended. From the Islamic tradition, I’d call this ‘baraka’ and we could feel it throughout the entire project. The key from our side was consistent hard work and dedication. For two full-time youngsters to complete a short film, the only thing we could guarantee was that we would work non-stop till midnight everday and the entire weekends. That’s how INSPIRE came to be.
If we have one piece of advice to anyone out there, it’s simply – stop thinking, start doing! You’ll be amazing by what you can achieve and what will come your way if you literally just do whatever you can to get your project off the ground. Be creative, be ambitious, but ultimately, don’t let anything stop you from just doing what you want to do, and do it right now – tomorrow’s too late! Go out and inspire people!
About the Authors:
Shehroze has an avid interest in filmmaking, and aspires to create films as a tool to promote positivity and morality. Read his Creative Ummah Profile here.
Awais Ali is a Dental student from London, but with a difference. His Film making skills have helped him win awards with HSBC, Arabia Offscreen and he hopes continue this success with his most recent film Inspire. Read his Creative Ummah Profile here.