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Bilal Hussain On The Wheelchair and the Trap

When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

"Since childhood I have always watched films with my dad "Dil Muhammed Akbar Hussain" who loves watching films since he was a child. Films like "The Good And The Bad And The Ugly", "The Godfather" trilogy, "The Lion King" and many cowboy films. but funny fact he has a "PHD" and works as a professor at the "Aalborg" university in "Esbjerg", "Denmark" where we live. "When I was a teenager; I began to have so many ideas for films and tv series and I also wanted to act in films and series as well. In (2011) I turned 18. and in my spare time I wrote my first danish crime-fiction book "Detektivjagten" ISBN nr. 978-969-9526-02-2. and at the time I was studying media at "Glad Fagskole Esbjerg", there I made my first school indie short film "Tycho Brahe". (2011) The year after (2012) I made again a school indie short film "Raptores" which was my first crime-fiction indie short film. The year after (2013) I finished school and got a job as a reporter at a local tv station "Tv-Glad Esbjerg" which is a part of "Glad Fagskole Esbjerg". "Tv-Glad Esbjerg" is the first television station in "Denmark" and the world for disable people. I have worked there for seven years now (2013 - 2020) I started my own sports program "Sportsstudiet" where I covered the local soccer, ice hockey and handball clubs but the last few months I have had my own film review program. In (2015) I wrote my second crime-fiction book "Eagle Unit" ISBN nr. 978-1-78222-416-7, beside it I also wrote, directed and produced my third crime-fiction indie short film "Drug Life". Over the years I have just been working full-time and in my spare time I have written, produced and directed six indie short films "Tycho Brahe", (2011) "Raptores", (2012) "Drug Life", (2015) "Jessica", (2017) "Esbjerg: Crime Family", (2018) and "The Wheelchair And The Trap", (2020) I have also acted in three film "Tycho Brahe" (2011) "Stoppestedet", (2016) & "035" (2019) The realization of being a filmmaker has been in my mind for years I guess and next year (2021) I will be celebrating ten years of anniversary as an independent filmmaker.

What inspired you to make The Wheelchair and the Trap?

"It's a fictional story, I wanted to show the realism of being in a wheelchair. I have a rare genetic diesis "AAA - Syndrome". It means that my muscles are not strong, I can't run fast, walk or jump and I use a wheelchair myself when traveling on vacation and long distance. I wanted to be a police man but due to the physical limitations it is not possible. I have a few friends who sit in a wheelchair and we see the world with a different eye. This film is also about not giving up, because if you give up then you let others win. The inspiration is just from the life and world we live and see every day".

What was your first film project?

My first project "Tycho Brahe" (2011) was with my media school "Glad Fagskole Esbjerg". It was to learn not show the characters face and other writing, directing, producing and editing process. We filmed around our school and at one of the student's apartment. The film is very special for me, because I had two great teachers Claus Christensen and Mikeal Wolff.

Mikeal died few years back due to tumor in his brain. He was a great human being and a great friend as well as a great teacher. If he was alive, he would have been very proud of what I have achieved. we always talked about films and series as well and he introduced the HBO series "Homeland" which I started to watch and I miss talking to him about films, series and sports. But that's life.

Which directors have been influential in your work?

I am a Pakistani - Canadian citizen living in Denmark for 18. years now. So, I would say danish director "Thomas Vinterberg" ("Druk") Pakistani director Kamal Khan ("Laal Kabootar") and Indian director Karan Johar ("My Name Is Khan"). Since I have studied media and began to produce indie short films and self-studied films, then I would say.. Martin Scorsese ("Taxi Driver") Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight"), Tony Scott ("Body Of Lies"), Ben Affleck ("The Town") and many other great Hollywood directors, if I write all my list, it will be very long.

What genre of filmmaking do you like to work on?

I love crime-fiction, drama & romantic-drama which I am best at, but I would like to try comedy and thriller genre as well. Right know my focus is on crime-fiction & romantic-drama and drama genres. But let's see what happen in the future. I am only 28. So, I can do a lot and get better every time I do a project.

What is the most challenging aspect of making an independent film for you?

As an Independent filmmaker I have learned that if you don't have a wider network then you'll have a very difficult time producing your films. But for me, I have been very lucky to have produced two school indie films and from there I produced my own indie films which at first was hard. But I found closed film groups online on Facebook and did a lot of networking back and forth to find actors and built a strong relationship with them. The actors I have used are really good who have worked with me voluntarily. My network is getting more and more stronger, it is also because of the success of my film "The Wheelchair And The Trap" (2020) which has gone viral at the festival circuit. The difficult thing as an independent filmmaker is also the financing. Every indie short film I have produced so far has been voluntarily but my seventh indie film "Jessica: Part Two" (2020) which is in postproduction is produced by my own pocket money, that means is I paid a one-time amount to the actors for their work. But this can't happen every-time I can't save up every-time otherwise I won't be able to live.

What is your plan for distributing your indie film further to a greater audience?

My plan is to put my film on YouTube after the festival rounds are finished in 2021 and share the film link to everyone. I am also hoping with the success so far to write and direct my first Hollywood film. I have written a story / concept which I submitted to the Production Database at the Lift-Off Global Network for the "Cannes Marchë Du Film (2020) and it was selected to be represented but there have not been any offers for the producing of it. Thats why I have put the project on hold for now and I am prepping for my first danish feature thriller movie. Let's see what happens.

How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?

Cinema is a place where you feel different kinds of emotions, it's also a place where you are entertained for two hours. But now a days, all the streaming sites like "Netflix", "HBO", "Amazon Prime" and many more have overtaken the cinema. I mean, almost every movie now a days comes on a streaming site and the joy and experience of being in the cinema have been finished. It's sad, but that's where we are headed. Nothing against the streaming sites but the joy and experience have been gone down which is sad. Cinema has a great impact on our society, because the films are also a way of learning and some films make us think very hard on stuff in our everyday life. For instants a film like "Unhinged" (2020) where "Russell Crowe" goes on a road radge because he has an off day. The audience can relate to it, I know I can when I saw the film because I have as a teenager experienced it with my dad, where a driver started to road radge us. It is not a pleasant experience. So, the cinema has a lot of impact on the society.

What is your next film project?

Right now I am in postproduction of my seventh indie short film "Jessica: Part Two", which is the continues part of the 2017 indie short film "Jessica". It was selected at three festivals around the world and also was the finalist at "The Lift Off Sessions". I have also begun prepping for my first danish feature film, the working title is "Where Did The Love Go". It's a thriller and hopefully it will be ready in the end of 2021 and will be sent to the festivals.

How was your film received in the festival circuit?

So far, the film "The Wheelchair And The Trap" (2020) has been selected 22. times around the globe with two awards for Best Crime at the "Rome International Movie Awards & "Hollywood Blood Horror Festival". It has also received many finalist awards as well. It is sent to many other festivals like "Sundance". I am very thankful to all my actors, family and friends for the support and specially my parents, sister and her husband for supporting me every time. Also to the festivals around the world for selecting the film and giving it awards.


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