Meet a Member: Omar Hanif

This month we meet Omar Hanif who along with fellow member Idriss Assoumanou, had a premier of their documentary about Ramadan at the mac

1. Your film The Big Fast had a premier last week.  How did that go? 

The premier of The Big Fast went extremely well. We were delighted to reach audiences who are perhaps neglected by wider cinematic releases or TV. Many who attended said they had not attended a screening like ours, let alone a premier and we were extremely happy for the audience to engage and take part in our Q&A after the screening.  With the assistance of the BFI we were able to reach audiences not often reached. Our aim was to reach diverse audiences and underrepresented community groups and in our showcase I feel we achieved that.
We have plans to have the film screened in Bradford, Manchester, Luton, London and Slough over the next few months. We have also had invites from Ireland and Dubai so the project has certainly found its audience. You can follow us @BigFastDoc for updates on the documentary The Big Fast. Coming Soon

2.  You have an established career as a lawyer.  How does your legal background influence your filmmaking?

A legal background is a great grounding for many types of career, creative or otherwise. The general premise of law is understanding how the relationship between the state, people or property work. Such skills I found extremely useful as a producer and assisted me greatly in getting The Big Fast off the ground. I feel to be a successful producer you have to have a balance between being a creative and the capacity to handle the nuts and bolt practicalities of arranging a shoot or schedule.  Being able to handle the logistical side of producing is a must. Being a people person, as most lawyers are, helps tremendously. Film is extremely collaborative. I have no doubt my legal background gave me advantage in that respect.

3. What other projects do you have on your slate? 
We are constantly working to bring new content to audiences. Often we find great projects made but never find an audience. That’s why I believe knowing your audience is key. Engaging and talking with your audience is essential. Doing so even during production is a must.
We are currently in pre-production on Food Bank Nation, a doc about the alarming rise of foods banks in one of the world’s richest economies –the UK, while we are due to shoot Refugee Story in late summer, written and produced by myself and directed by Idriss Assoumamou. It’s a modern fable about refugee life within the UK.
We hope to take both projects to the Birmingham Film & TV Marketplace. The Marketplace has fast become a major fixture of my calendar. It’s a great place for people to meet peers. Each year it gets bigger and I’m looking forward to this year. 
4. You work closely with another Forum member, Idriss Assoumanou.  How did that relationship come about? 

Idriss and I met at the Foot Up scheme, a great scheme run by The Producers’ Forum some years ago. We seem to click and we both wanted to create challenging films representing the diverse UK we live in.  I believe film is a collaborative process. Ideas meld and progress. Being collaborative is key to being a good filmmaker. I think we both realise that and it makes us a better team.  We are always open to ideas and if members have a project or an idea they are welcome to get in touch:

Victoria Park Productions, FF1, 393 Coventry Road, Birmingham, B10 0SP, @VicParkFilms

Check out Victoria Park Productions here.

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