5 Things We Learnt About The Film Industry From Director Shehrezade Sheikh

The film industry in Pakistan has seen a huge surge in the last few years. Pakistani cinema and the quality of films being produced have improved immensely as well, since a lot of people from all walks of life have begun taking an interest in the industry. Working in the film industry is no longer a taboo it was considered once. To get a deeper insight into the film industry, we invited director Shehrezade Sheikh to Mashion HQ for a Q&A session. She’s previously worked on hugely successful films such as Parey Hut Love, Dobara Phir Se and Ho Mann Jahaan and dramas such as Silvatein, Soteli, Ghar Aur Ghaata and Naulakha. Read on to find out what she had to say if you missed the session!

1. You Don’t Really Need Formal Training To Get Into Film

Getting into film doesn’t require any specific education or formal training, according to our expert. You can opt for either route – either getting a degree, which will give you connections and different advantage, or you can just learn on the job, which will give you more hands-on experience. Either route you choose will get you into the film industry. But if you want to become a director, experience is the best way to go about it. Shehrezade says, “The first step is to become an assistant to an established director so you can learn the ropes and understand the business, and then work your way up!”

2. Breaking Into The Acting Scene

The easiest way to break into the acting is by getting in touch with industry professionals for auditions. Most TV dramas have tickers running under them with information for auditions that you can easily reach out to. The other approach is to just reach out people on social media! Since we’re living in the age of the internet, our expert recommends reaching out to directors, producers, TV channels or production houses on Instagram. But when it comes to actually auditioning, she has a key tip: “You should know the scene on the tip of your fingers. So that you’re not remembering lines; the lines should become second nature to you. Acting will flow out.”

3. Where Pakistani Cinema Stands With The Rest Of The World

When it comes to Pakistani films, many of us are quick to compare them to Indian cinema, perhaps because their films are the closest to us. However, Shehrezade vehemently believes that Pakistan doesn’t fall behind India, or the rest of the world, when it comes to the technical aspects of film. According to her, our cinema is equally, if not more, technically sound than the rest of the world. However, our film industry does lack in certain areas. “Content and screenplay writing when it comes to filmmaking. That’s where we lack,” she says.

4. Planning And Sticking To Budgets

It’s no surprise that films, especially those on a large scale, require a lot of money. At the end of the day, even the entertainment industry is a business and making profits are a priority. When it comes to setting a budget, the script is the biggest influence, after which a simple template is followed to determine the budget. The script will tell you how much money you’ll need to achieve the vision the movie is trying to portray. Our expert says, “If the landscape is big, of a script or a movie or anything, the budgets are bigger.”

5. The Scope For Women In Film

There’s no doubt that while there’s still a long way to go, a lot of opportunities have opened up for women in the country, especially in film. Actresses such as Aamina Sheikh, Mansha Pasha and Sanam Saeed have paved the way for content that celebrates and empowers women. Shehrezade agrees, saying there’s still a lot of scope in the film industry, especially for women. “Girls should definitely pursue this field,” she said. Mahira Khan, who made a guest appearance in the session, added, “we need more women writers and directors.” We couldn’t agree more!

Bonus: How Shehrezade and Mahira First Met

Shehrezade first met Mahira on the sets of Mahira’s first TV show, Neeyat, which was filmed in New York. And even though they’re best friends now, it wasn’t always like that. When they first met on set, Shehrezade thought Mahira was a ‘malang’ and Mahira found Shahrezade to be quite strict. On one of their shoot days, they had a really hectic schedule and it was really cold, so tensions were high. “We were talking about continuity and I was telling her [Mahira] ke yeh scarf pehana hai tumne iss scene ke liye. So she told me yeh nahin hai!”And even though Shehrezade had photographic evidence, they got into a heated argument, which Mehreen [Jabbar] walked into. Once things were resolved, they became fast friends!

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