Icarus and The Filmmaker

If I were displayed by one foot to the right of where I'm sitting now, the winds violently tearing past at several hundred miles an hour, would surely kill me. I'd be engulfed by droplets of water freezing that form a vaporous clouds, the temperature would be near freezing, and I'd have trouble breathing in the substance surrounding me - oxygen.
But, I'm not displaced, I'm sitting comfortably in row "12", seat "A", in an Embraer Jet, en route to Dallas from Chattanooga, as I do every Thursday, since the beginning of the year. I'm looking down at a rolling tapestry of greens and browns, with zigzagging lines of interruptions. A couple of thousand feet below the jet is a layer of white clouds extending to the horizon from East to West. We appear to be slowly inching by this landscape and sky, when in reality, we're moving closer to 4 or 5 hundred miles in hour, but the appearance of speed is void, until a plane comes at us from the opposite direction - then the shocking reality of our speed becomes apparent, as the oncoming plane appears and disappears past us in a few seconds.
Flying - it's not hard to understand Icarus' wish. Bound for the Sun, a return to our ethereal self. From little boys zooming model airplanes around the backyard, to the glances through the windows as the plane leaves the ground - the dream and fascination of flying never dies.
San Francisco this Weekend
Sonia and baby Zakaria are in Montreal visiting her parents, so instead of going home to an empty house, I'll continue on from Dallas to San Francisco to spend the weekend there. I have a meeting with a few folks there, my goal is to secure the rights for a documentary about a family. This is where a documentary begins - get the story, get the rights, and if you're lucky enough to actually get it, and it's an "exclusive" - you have a chance at getting funding.
This family's story made headlines a few years ago - and it was a big story, I mean really big, every newspaper, and TV outlet covered it, it was international. They've been approached by Hollywood already, and they've never granted an interview, never mind the rights to the story. I approached them 6 months ago, and have been "working" the idea and building a trust with the father. I'm still a small time "fish", but I have hopes to win the story. If I actually get it, this could be big - real big.
My first movie "American Ramadan" helped me get in the door to the story, even though it's a small film, they liked the approach and honesty that I managed to capture - I'm hoping for the best, let's see how the weekend goes.
In the meantime, I'm also trying to get my next documentary projects off the ground.
"American Hajj", working title for now, the synopsis of the doc is to capture the experience, first-hand through the eyes of several people who go through the entire process and transformation of this life changing pilgrimage. I know there's been plenty of movies done about this already - but I want it more "reality-based", more first-hand, more personal.
"American Convert", also working title, will be about experiencing the angst, frustration and joy of individuals discovering a spiritual awakening. Again, there's been many videos of people recounting how they came to their new found Faith, I want to capture it while it's happening. I want to follow several people when it's just a seed on an idea, and then follow the whole path. Will they convert in the end? What are the consequences of their decision? What about their family - do they accept it? And what is the story of the various Faiths, is someone who's thinking of converting to Christianity, or Judaism, or Islam a parallel story, or are there differences?
"Holy Warriors", working title. How does Faith play a role in a soldiers life in the theater of war? What do Muslims in the US Army do to maintain their stature among bias from within the army, and also from within the Muslim community? This is the story of American Muslim soldiers, and the challenges they go through, in their chosen career. I'm not sure yet, if the story should be limited only from the "Muslim" perspective, or should be a wider view of all Faiths, and what these chaplains face.
Then I'm still hoping to get the "3 Cups of Tea" project, and this one in San Francisco as well..
Lots of ideas, no shortage of that. What I am short on is cash, time, and resources - the term "struggling" artist comes to mind. Actually I have a really well paid job, so I can't complain about that, but it demands almost all of my time. Also, you don't bankroll your own films, if they're going to be anything above a "independent production".
Five years from now, I hope to never look back at the corporate world again, even though I'm pretty good at it. I'll be finishing my first big budget feature film, I'll be doing what I have a calling for, what I am most passionate about, and what makes me fly across the country just for a one hour interview, in the hopes of "landing" the story.
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About Naeem Randhawa

Naeem Randhawa is a filmmaker, travel writer, and IT project manager, living in Dallas with his wife and baby boy. He has been writing about travel for over 12 years, and made his film directorial debut last year, with a film about fasting called “American Ramadan.” Having traveled almost every state in the US, Canada, as well as international destinations, his travel writings cover everything from adventure trails across White Sands in New Mexico, exclusive resorts in Quebec, Baja trekking in Mexico, to the many travel destinations in the US. He is currently developing a diversity based travel show, to premiere later this year. A self-starter, he taught himself filmmaking, to add a voice in countering the current media bias and void of Muslim representation in mainstream media. Last year, the film was picked up and broadcast by Link TV, Geo TV, Bridges TV, as well as international networks. This year the documentary will air across 50 PBS stations this year, and reach over 70 million TV US homes. He has also shot, and produced over 70 field television reports for a national satellite network, reporting on the Muslim community locally in Dallas, and at large. Highlights include coverage of on-the-ground reporting from New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, and many others. He is currently working on research for his next documentary projects, about Hajj, Muslims in the US Army, Faith conversion stories, and a PSA for a national organization. His media website can be viewed here at JustSayGoFILMS.com.

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