Chemical reaction – Placements awarded for new doco projects

Congratulations to Kauthar Abdulalim and Eren Besiroglu who have been offered placements at Chemical Media.

Kauthar and Eren will spend the next five months participating in the post-production process on You See Monsters for ABC Arts and a documentary film for the SBS Untold Australia series. Both projects explore themes and issues specific to Muslim Australians. 

The placement will offer an insight into the director/editor relationship in documentaries and the opportunity to assist the editor by assembling sequences of footage under supervision.

Kauthar and Eren talked to us about their interest in applying, their pathway that led them to this opportunity and what they hope to achieve in the future.

What interested you about this post production placement opportunity at Chemical Media? 
Eren: Chemical Media’s efforts to change the perception of the Islamic community is what initially interested me about this opportunity. It’s a unique project that engages with the cultural discussion, something which I believe is imperative to good filmmaking. Aside from this, my enthusiasm for the role came from the chance to work with industry veterans at a company as diverse and industrious as Chemical Media.

Kauthar: The most interesting thing about this placement was that it was being offered to filmmakers specifically from the Muslim community and to those that had an Islamic background. It was great to see that Chemical Media wanted to involve the community that the films are based on, on all levels of production - not just as subjects.

How have your skills and experiences led you to this opportunity?
Eren: Em Baker, who I recently travelled to Turkey with to finish shooting her feature documentary I Am No Bird, recommended the role to me and taught me many valuable lessons about documentary filmmaking. However, I also gained my technical skills over the last few years at Channel Nine as a Camera Assistant for the news department. On top of that I worked on Laura Hamilton’s documentary Stoned, following the effects of medicinal marijuana in Bendigo, as well as a multitude of short film sets such as Jessie White’s Our House. Together, these projects have grown my passion for filmmaking and pushed me to explore new ways of storytelling.

Kauthar: I had the opportunity to undertake a documentary filmmaking course previously where I experienced working on all levels of production while making my first short documentary film. After that, I took part in a global campaign that was initiated in The Netherlands, Help Syria Through the Winter, where I was involved in producing the campaign video which impacted the reach of the campaign globally. Within a week, a popular Muslim celebrity, Maher Zain, shared the video on his social media and the video went viral, aiding the campaign and allowing us to collect clothing and food supplies for hundreds of orphans and families in Syria. Currently, I am exploring VR (Virtual Reality) and trying to use it for a cause that is very close to my heart. The film is titled Found and it explores the experiences of an Australian woman in Melbourne as the Sydney Siege unfolds. Through these experiences and opportunities I have made connections in the industry that led me to this really exciting opportunity that I cannot wait to get started!

How do you hope this opportunity will help your career development in the screen industry? 
Eren: It’s through the practical experience of editing, in particular the pressure of deadlines and collaboration with other talented creatives. I hope to gain the confidence to go out on my own and become a valued worker in the screen industry. Practice makes perfect, and there’s no better way to develop a career in the screen industry than getting myself into the thick of it. Hopefully this practice will help me strive forward into my own projects, both short and feature in form.  

Kauthar: I hope that this opportunity further extends my networks within the screen industry and eventually leads me to developing and creating my own documentary series to be broadcast on national television  – sharing my passion and art with the mainstream audience in Australia.

Has your upbringing shaped you as an emerging filmmaker? If so, in what way? 
Eren:
My upbringing has undoubtedly influenced the way I approach film. I grew up with traditional Islamic values in a Turkish-Australian household, which contrasted and very often conflicted with the Anglo-Australian community in which I was educated. This gave me a unique perspective, as I saw two different sides to Melbourne with its parallel societies: one moment with my Islamic grandparents and the next with my Aussie mates. Film is a form of expression I want to relate these kinds of lives to audiences, for them to see the grey area of human experience in all its chaotic and colourful glory.

Kauthar: My upbringing has played an instrumental role in nurturing my love for films in general and inspired me to gradually pursue the screen industry as a medium that not only allows me to share the stories that have impacted me or subjects that I am passionate about, but also explore my creativity simultaneously.