Meet Shahid Turq, this young and suave man has been directing and writing short movies since 5 years now! Film making has been like a discovery in his life which he never imagined to do it one day. Directing and writing movies give him the liberty to express and behave the way he wants. It gives him the power to actually create the world he would want to be in. He uses the characters to speak what he wants to in real life. There are so many dreams and fantasies he wants to live which if not practically possible, he lives them through the stories and the lives of the character in his films.
So let us start,
Jessica: Give us an introduction about you.
Shahid: I am Shahid Turq and I belong to a family who has been into the shipping industry for generations now. I have done my graduation in International Business from the UAE. UAE was a wise call for my education because then my family and the family business was setup in that country. My schooling has been quite exciting I would say, as I spent 13 years in a boarding school at Mt. Abu and then post 10th grade I moved to Surat where I completed my 12th grade.
Jessica: How did film making happen to you?
Shahid: Film making today is the most important part of my life because almost all the time I am either thinking or developing a story or I am on a shoot. It all started back during the college days where I came across a group of guys who were into making short films. They then had made a couple of zero budget short films and they often spoke about it. At first it didn’t interest me much more over because I was too arrogant about whom I was and like many I didn’t take them serious. It so happened that my best friend in college was really interested in being part of their short films and on one such day I too joined him on a shoot. Quite surprisingly, that day I ended up acting in the same short my friend was acting and just a couple of weeks later we all gathered for a small screening of that short film. It might seem really funny but that so called screening took place in a car on a laptop. Though today we are not very proud of what we made then but my friend and I were so amazed to actually see ourselves in a movie.
6 months later, my friend Junaid and I wanted to make a film but obviously we knew nothing about film making. So we met Mirza who had directed the short film we had acted in and we told him that we wanted to make a film. Honestly he was the only person we thought would direct a film for us and we would act in it because we anyways wanted to be on camera. He didn’t show much interest in what we were expecting but he did guide us to start writing a plot of a story.
So the first thing we did is, we wrote a plot of the story and made a script out of it. Now the question was how do we make a movie out of the script. Neither did we have a camera nor a team. Trial and errors, mistakes and lessons somehow helped us in making our first short film, Allegiance.
It took us almost 9 months to actually make and release the short film online. During this process I actually went through a realisation phase by the end of which I knew I had always been good with my language and I could write well, I also realised I had always been a dreamer and there were so many stories and imagination in my head.
When I moved back to India I started working for a textile company in the Purchase department. Every day, while on my desk all I would do is write abstract situations, make character sketches, try to frame a story and look for film makers in Surat. My hard luck I couldn’t come across anyone who would direct a short film for me, mainly the reason being was my stories I suppose. No one really connected to my stories, when finally I decided to direct a short film by myself. I then made Connexxion, with a few friends of mine and I don’t shy to admit the fact that it was terribly made.
It had hardly been 3 months now and I had a really violent story in my head. I was not sure if anyone would want to watch a film like the one I wanted to make but then a very close friend of mine inspired me by shaving his head off as soon as I told him that I need a bald guy to play the role. I then made The Dirty Hand, which not just got a very warm response on the internet but I actually started getting commercial work. It’s been a good run since then; people appreciate me, consider me a film maker and even pay me for my work.
Jessica: Who has motivated you to be who you are today?
Shahid: As a person it has been Faisal Hashmi, a film maker in UAE who has inspired me but the thing that drives the passion in me towards film making is the sole fact that film making is a medium of expression. Film making has changed me immensely as a person. I had always been a hot-headed person, someone very shy and impulsive but since I realised that I can actually express myself through films, I am calm and a quite person now. Film making completely soaks me.
Jessica: How has life been as a director and writer so far?
Shahid: As a writer and director it has so far been very satisfying I would say because I feel I have something of my own. It gives me pride that from nowhere but from my errors and mistakes, I learnt and developed a set of skills which not just earn me enough money but also keeps me hungry to grow more.
Jessica: Tell us about 12 Shots Productions.
Shahid: 12 Shots Productions has a very special place in my life. I can clearly recall myself, Junaid and Rafey Hashmi were driving back from college and were planning the release of Allegiance. We had to think of a name for our production house and quite randomly I came up with this name 12 Shots Productions. It’s been almost 5 years now and many people know me by this name.
Jessica: You have made 5 films till now. How has your audience re-acted for each of them?
Shahid: Well I have not just made 5 short films, there are many ad films and a couple of talks shows too that I have made. Talking about the short films which definitely holds great part of my interest, the audience has been generous I would say. They have actually watched my work, motivated me and have shown me my mistakes. Short films are the only source through which I have actually taught myself film making. I have never attended a seminar nor have I really joined a film maker’s group but I have always put myself in front of the audience to let them judge me and tell me where I stand. I believe as a film maker there needs to be a direct connect with the viewers, one should be able to communicate his weirdest story to even the lay man.
Jessica: Why do your 5 films have some what the same or close genres?
Shahid: Well I wouldn’t say they have the same genre, it’s just they all have a dark shade to them which is their similarity. I personally don’t like things to just be good in my stories; I like things to go wrong.
Jessica: Do you look forward to make more films with the same genre or will you be trying something different?
Shahid: As a film maker I want to tell all sorts of stories to the audience. It’s not that I just have dark and unusual stories in my head. Lately I have written couple of stories based on today’s women, there is an adventure comedy, there is a beautiful love story, there is a patriotic story which also has a love story in it, a few horror stories and obviously there are many more dark and unusual stories. It has been my choice to try and communicate complex and unusual subjects to the audience because if they do understand me through them then that would give me the confidence as a story teller. Today I have the confidence that I can make people relate to me and soon you shall see me with telling all sorts of stories.
Jessica: How do you describe yourself as a director and a writer?
Shahid: For me Direction and Writing has always been a combination. When I write a story, I actually go through that phase in real life to understand the situation and its consequences. For example before I wrote After Party, I actually stood all alone, late night in a dark and empty corridor trying to soak in all the creepy thoughts crawling in my mind. The fear that built inside me was thrilling and that is what I wanted the audience to experience. I was clear in my head that I want to make an unusual horror film which doesn’t literally scare people but it just makes them experience the fear building in the character of the film while he is alone in the dark and empty corridor. My stories are a projection of my state of mind.
Directing a film to me is the most engaging process. I have never seen myself so interested and engrossed into something other than direction. I believe I can make even a non actor portray themselves as someone he or she has never imagined to be. Directing a film to me is not just being able to properly tell my story and making my characters look convincing but it is also a journey which along with my actors I am going through. While shooting C-Dust, Akshay was a non-smoker and I had to portray him as a drug addict. I had to become the character that I wanted him to portray and then I would match his state of mind with mine so that he knows what the character should be going through in a particular situation. Direction is not everyone’s cup of tea. Not everyone can be a good director. It’s a totally different piece of art.
Jessica: Who is your favorite director in the Gujarati Film Industry and in Bollywood?
Shahid: In the Gujarati film industry, I really admire Mikhil Musale, director of Wrong Side Raju. There are a few scenes in the film when the actor has no dialogues and just has minimum expressions on his face, even then there is so much expressed that you can actually feel what the character is going through. As a director it is your strength to be able to deeply connect with your audience. In Bollywood, I think Imtiaz Ali is one such director who exactly knows what his audience thinks and feels. His characters and their situations are so real that one can easily relate to them.
Jessica: How long does it take you to write about the short films you make?
Shahid: Writing is not a constant process for me. I can only write a story when I am in that zone. If I lose the zone, the story is left aside. Usually, as soon as an idea strikes my mind, I make rough notes out of it so that I don’t miss out anything. I then go on thinking about that idea no matter where I am and once the story is framed in my mind, I first share it with Shriya Tiwari. She being an actress imagines the story as a film, and tells me what is right and wrong in my approach. Then the story comes on paper and is developed into a script.
Jessica: Once the story is written, what do you do next?
Shahid: Once the story is written I make a list of the logistics required as that helps me know the budget of the film. I then look around for locations, adjust dates, bring in the team and start shooting. Usually the casting is almost done in my head while I am writing the story.
Jessica: On an average, how long does a short film take to be made?
Shahid: I believe as soon as the script is ready you should not waste much time and should start shooting. It generally takes a month to finish a short once the production has begun.
Jessica: Where do you see yourself as a director in the near future?
Shahid: I think today I am at a stage where I have polished my set of skills as writer and a director. There are all sorts of stories you will get to see in the near future. In fact the next short that I would release will be a love story, for which I have already started the pre-production. I have also written some really interesting stories which will surely be loved by a wider audience once it’s made a film. The future will be bright if your efforts in the present are up to the mark and I see a bright future for myself as a Director.
Jessica: Once you are an established director, would you have varieties in genres?
Shahid: As of now all I know is this is where I belong and this is where I will leave my mark. I would definitely want to direct all sorts of stories, but what I would write purely depends on the journey of my life.
Here are the links to the short movies:
The Dirty Hand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEqMu416NmM
After Party: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBEXgKM5xeQ
C-Dust Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu6sOh9KHJs
– Jessica Pancholi