(CNS Local Life): Caymanian filmmaker Badir Awe took an extremely circuitous route to arrive at his profession. A bachelor’s degree in finance led to working in banking in Cayman for a few years. He then returned to school to earn a master’s degree in theology, and took a job in property management for a few years, before finding his way as a filmmaker. Awe is now the owner of Awesome Productions, which offers production services for the film industry. His most recent feature was the short film, Luna’s Ring, which was shot on location in Cuba.
CNS: What first got you interested in pursuing a career in the film industry?
Badir Awe: It was series of events that today seem like a single event. I was thoroughly dissatisfied with my life and one day decided to work only on things I was passionate about. I never wanted to be a filmmaker. When they filmed The Firm in Cayman, everyone was making a fuss, but I could care less. Imagine my surprise when years later I became passionate about film. That’s crazy to me.
CNS: What does Cayman offer to others in pursuit of that goal?
BA: Cayman offers the chance to do it all yourself. Working on film in Cayman means you will have to be the producer, the director, the editor, the financier and all the other hundreds of jobs. It’s like Survivor, you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and somehow you have to survive. You’re bound to come out of that a better person, a better filmmaker. I’ve only ever worked in production in Cayman, but when I meet LA and NYC filmmakers I find myself on par with them, and often have a better understanding of the various disciplines in filmmaking than they do. Some professional producers have never picked up a camera, and some professional cameramen have never produced. In Cayman, you have to do it all.
CNS: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
BA: Filming Luna’s Ring in Cuba. The logistics of making that movie happen were so overwhelming, that it was our greatest accomplishment.
CNS: What would you advise a young person who was interested in a career in film?
BA: Join the industry because we need you! You want to direct? Better learn to produce. You want to edit? Better learn to shoot. Be prepared to do things that you don’t know how to do, because film is a 360-degree circle of disciplines, and you’re going to have learn as many of them as possible. Do you understand the physical nature of light? Do you understand the technical specificities of cameras? Do you know method acting? Can you use editing software? Can you mix audio? Do you know the basic dynamics of story and myth? Are you willing to lug heavy equipment for 12-hour days?
CNS: What have been your greatest challenges?
BA: The greatest challenge has been overcoming the dissatisfaction I feel with the civil and private sectors, upon whom the local filmmakers are heavily dependent. Those sectors possess an elementary knowledge of the production industry, and in our relations with them it’s near impossible to effect positive legislative change or be properly compensated as professionals.
CNS: How has your involvement with film changed/affected your life?
BA: I have joy, I have purpose, I have meaning. I know what I want, and I know why I want it. Consequently, everything I say and do throughout the day has direction and purpose. My energy is not wasted.
CNS: What, if anything, would you do differently, if you could?
BA: Literally nothing.
CNS: What has the reaction been to your film, Luna’s Ring?
BA: The reaction has been split down the middle. Some people really enjoyed it and others did not like it at all. I think both reactions are fair. We nailed some things, but missed the mark on others. But that’s why I love film – the degree of difficulty in producing a good film is staggering and I love that challenge. It allows me to exercise and optimise a variety of my talents.
CNS: What projects are you working on now?
BA: I’m trying to drive awareness about the lack of a film structure in the Cayman Islands. There is no film commission in the Cayman Islands. Producers reach out to the Cayman Islands and they do not speak with informed filmmakers and professionals on island. Many of them give up trying to film here because they can’t get a response. Many producers from LA, NYC and London have personally told me this, and are urging us to do better. I’m trying to get the civil servants and public’s attention about it. These productions spend millions of dollars across a wide variety of vendors on island, and sadly we miss out on many of these opportunities
This is the second in a new, but not necessarily regular, series focusing on some of the interesting people who call Cayman home.