In this instalment of Meet the Creatives, we speak to award-winning director and producer Junaid Faiz. He talks university mistakes, gaining recognition from Hollywood, and ‘Sticks’ — his ambitious and surreal short film, shot in a single day…
Junaid Faiz is an award-winning director and producer of short films and music videos. Notable recognition came from short film Sticks (Winner Best Family/Fantasy – The Short Film Show 2019) and the music video Wasuremono: Holy Now (Nominated Best New Director – Kinsale Shark Awards 2018, Nominated On The Cusp of Greatness – 1.4 Awards 2018, Nominated Best Animation – Berlin Music Video Awards 2019)
How did you get into directing?
After getting into a hardcore Engineering university to study Engineering, I knew instantly that I was in the wrong place and wanted to make movies. At university in between lectures I worked for a charity, making documentaries in the dark pre-DSLR days of digital tape and 480p camcorders. I then took a detour into the world of Acting and after completing a Masters in Acting I got signed to one of the UK’s biggest agencies. From there I performed on stage and in short and feature films. Getting frustrated with a lot of the uninspiring work I saw being created, I returned to my first love of directing, self-funding and producing my own short films and music videos and starting up my own studio for hire Studio 220 Brick Lane.
What have you directed?
What do you like about it?
Getting the best out of those around you and giving platforms for talented crew and cast members to shine.
When Ava DuVernay tweeted out my music video. She’s changing what the industry pictures when it thinks of a Hollywood Director and her work is some of the most powerful out there. The fact that she watched a little homemade video I made in my pyjamas and took the time out of her ridiculously busy schedule to write something nice about it and share it blew me away and will keep me motivated for decades to come.
What’s been your biggest Directing challenge so far?
Looking back on it, making Sticks was a bit ambitious. Attempting a short film with multiple puppets, a boat, a lake, stunts and weird looks from the public. Doing that in a single day and driving from Cornwall to London the same night was a challenge for sure. Thankfully I had an incredible cast and crew who didn’t require much direction at all!
What can a director add to a production?
Clarity and empathy. These two things are vital for a production to work efficiently. Film sets are often rushed, underfunded and unpredictable. Directors have been intrusted with the soul of the project and their job is to make sure that this is protected once things start getting into the nitty gritty and intentions can shift. Being able to focus the team towards the essential heart of the project, understanding their needs and removing any obstacles blocking them is where a director shines.
In the next instalment of Meet the Creatives, we chat to Junaid about his creative workspace-for-hire, Studio 220 Brick Lane — the studio in the heart of Shoreditch that’s perfectly suited to small shoots with big ambitions…