Films, films and films – I dream of films.

Monday morning, on another weekly flight from Dallas to Chattanooga. I’m working as a project manager with BearingPoint for a client who’s trying to get a new healthcare site up for July – I’ve been in Chattanooga every week since January this year. Client’s great to work with – actually one of the best client’s I’ve ever worked with, it’s a church-going group, and they couldn’t be more hospitable to us consultants. Its’ a rare treat – and I’m enjoying it.

 

American Airlines flight 3473, we’re flying above the clouds, and of course, I’m thinking about films again, films, films, and films – it’s amazing how your life gets so absorbed in something when you finally find what keeps you excited. Making money at it, is a whole other story. I’m thinking about all the new projects I want to get off the ground – easier said than done, when I’m trying to balance a full-time job, traveling out of state every week, spend time with Sonia and baby Zakaria, and the constant little things that come up in life that are unplanned.

 

Still, I try to fall back to the highlights of filmmaking, to look for motivation to keep going – the money will come. I’t ain’t really about the money though – because I’m making plenty with the job I’ve got now. It’s a great gig – but I need something more.

 

I remember the first time “American Ramadan” aired on television. It was on Thursday, September 21, last year on KERA – Dallas’ local PBS station, it aired late, at 11 pm – Bill Young, the programming manager, who made it happen, pulled one of their weekly national scheduled shows to squeeze in my movie. Considering that Dallas is one of PBS’ top stations – this was big, this was what he I had hoped for, but thought I had a 50-50 chance of it actually happening. Of course, it couldn’t have happened without the help of a lot of people who helped along the way.

 

That night, Sonia and I lay in bed, turned on the tube – and watched as the commercials completed – and the opening scene of the movie started “Bismillah…” in Arabic text (In the name of God..), and then the opening scenes of the families, with the credits “A Naeem Randhawa film”. We looked at each other, I think I was grinning – she was smiling, the feeling that there were thousands of people watching this as we were watching it was overwhelming. I later heard from some viewers, that they cried while watching some of the scenes in the movie, like the story of Intisar, who’s husband was in jail. To hear feedback like that is humbling, and you realize that if you pour your heart and soul into a project, and get lucky, your movie can affect people, even in the smallest way.

 

I had goosebumps – and realized the year of work that my editor Nathan Lewan, my brother Imran Randhawa, the LA field cameraman/director Murad Aldin, and I put in was worth it – as we watched our work broadcasting across the city. This was more than I had hoped for, it confirmed a conviction – that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now – to just layout a roadmap to make a transition, I figure this will take me 2 to 5 years to be able to do this for a living, making the same salary I’m making now. Of course, 2 years if I get really really lucky, but more realistically closer to 5 years – even the, that’s pretty aggressive.

 

We watched the 56 minute movie, with the mistake in one of the text screens, and all – and went to bed, content, and on a high. I thought to myself, I need to take this movie to the next level for next year. Now that I can claim a broadcast of it, I need to start working on taking this to a national level.

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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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