Bouha Kazmi on Making His Music Video TOKYO by The Ramona Flowers – Official Selection at Tokyo Lift-Off 2015


BOUHA KAZMI – FILMMAKER – The Ramona Flowers Video for ‘TOKYO’


Film Courage: Where did you grow up?

Bouha Kazmi:  I spent my childhood in Cyprus and my teenage years in the US.


.Film Courage: Were your parents supportive of your creativity?

Bouha Kazmi:  They were always supportive of my choices and anything that I was interested in. I was somewhat reluctant to share with them my eventual intentions, especially since I had initially lead them to believe that I was contemplating law school. They never pushed me down a specific career path and without their encouragement, things would have turned out very differently. Neither of them came from a creative background and the extent of their artistry was in all likelihood limited to doodling during phone calls.

Film Courage: Which parent do you most resemble?

Bouha Kazmi:  A little bit of both.

Film Courage:  How did you discover filmmaking?

Bouha Kazmi:  It all started with photography at an early age. My cousin used to teach it. One day, out of mind-numbing boredom, I pestered him enough until he gave me an ultimatum; only chance in hell I would have of holding his prized camera, would be to sit and listen to tedious talk of aperture, ISO and shutter speed, for days on end. Boredom lead to avocation, avocation and a love of film eventually progressed things to motion and most of the early filmmaking discovery took place during college.

Film Courage:  What was the first music video you watched as a child?

Bouha Kazmi:  Michael Jackson ‘Bad.’

Film Courage:  What song best describes your life?

Bouha Kazmi:  Iggy Pop ‘The Passenger’

Film Courage:  What is the synopsis for music video Tokyo by The Ramona Flowers?

Bouha Kazmi: A mysterious masked stranger and a boy form the centrepiece of a gathering of elderly society women who yearn for their youth and the exquisite command of their lure.

Film Courage:  What inspired the video?

Bouha Kazmi:  My idea stemmed from the desire to reveal the true beauty beneath one’s mask. I’ve always been intrigued by the Confucian values and customs of Geishas, and Japanese culture. I find something bewildering about their temperament. Their physical appearance is extraordinary when explored in its most traditional form. People are constantly consuming them with their eyes. During a trip to Japan, I remember seeing a geisha hand in hand with a very young boy who looked like he had just finished his school day. Later, I started distorting the sight of these two unsuspecting people. Where could they have been going? Why was he with her? What’s she carrying in that case? What if she really were a prostitute? This image stayed with me all of these years. The first step was taking the seed of that memory and both developing its narrative and visual language.

Film Courage:  There is an incredible use of light and colors in the film – how did this come about?

Bouha Kazmi:  There’s a perpetual metamorphosis occurring throughout the film on several levels, present to both stimulate and toy with the imagination. This heightened premise manipulates the unfolding of each character’s development during the story, as well as the changeover that occurs in balance between one character and another, whether in conveying mystery or dominance. It’s a constant play of duality, much in the same way as a yin and yang effect. Through early discussions with the director of photography, a conscious decision was made to apply the same qualities to our lighting, personifying it as a constant within the film to further communicate the balance. The progression of this approach lead to lighting each scene simultaneously with two very opposing color temperatures; on one side, the image would be bathed in soft warm hues while the other was contrasted by harsher cold blues.

Film Courage:  How did you come to work with The Ramona Flowers?

Bouha Kazmi:  The label’s video commissioner had approached my music video agent.

Film Courage:  How did you secure locations?

Bouha Kazmi:  A mixture of contentious dialogue, the odd backhander and a six-foot tall producer built like a badass. In truth, the locations all came about through direct contact with the establishments and although securing them was the trickiest aspect of the production, the individuals we were dealing with were overtly kind and accommodating with hire rates.

Film Courage:  What was your biggest production cost?

Bouha Kazmi:  The Duke of Northumberland’s family residence, that was used for all the interior scenes.

Film Courage:  How did the audience react when you exhibited the film at the London Lift-Off International Film Festival?

Bouha Kazmi:  There was definite clapping, some bewilderment in places from older attendees, followed by engaging questions and some very kind comments during the Q&A. All in all, a great night.

Film Courage:  You have an artistic sense incorporated into each scene. Are you also a painter, did you study art or avid museum goer?

Bouha Kazmi:  All three, although I haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a while!

Film Courage:  What will your next project be?

Bouha Kazmi:  A music video followed by a project for London Fashion Week.


THE RAMONA FLOWERS | Tokyo from Bouha Kazmi on Vimeo.



Bouha Kazmi is an award-winning director based in London, United Kingdom.

His film “Tokyo” earned him a Young Director Award nomination at the Cannes Lions festival in 2014 and has recently won awards at the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival, Miami Short Film Festival and London Lift-Off Film Festival.

Bouha’s short film “Flicker” was nominated for the Young Director Award at the Cannes Lions festival in 2013, and has since been In Competition and Official Selection at a host of international film festivals including Raindance Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, Aesthetica Short Film Festival, Bornshorts Film Festival and Macon Film Festival.


Liverpool Lift-Off is part of the Lift-Off International Film Festivals, dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists in an unbiased environment and free from any commercial pressures. Student films are programmed alongside professional/ independent films and every film that is submitted is treated equally and voted on individual merit alone. A large budget and glossy production value means nothing to the folks at Lift-Off – the only focus is great delivery of an honest story. The motto is to “Look beyond the gloss. Put talent before technology.”

Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival is one of six international Lift-Off events and takes place from 12-14 March. The other Lift-Off events take place in Las Vegas, LA, Amsterdam, London and Tokyo. Liverpool Lift-Off Film Festival is free to attend, enabling submission fees to directly donate to bringing more audience to independent work. Lift-Off believe strongly in their filmmakers getting value for their submission fee and so every one is given extensive support and advice on topics such as marketing, crowd-funding and artistic development. Lift-Off’s aim is to create a network of creatives to one day become an industry of their own, where talent is king and hard work rewarded.

The festival also offers an option to receive extensive feedback and grades on submitted works, regardless of selection – another factor that makes Lift-Off unique from other festivals. With 700+ overall global entrants, the Liverpool leg of Lift-Off promises an array of films from animations, live action narrative and documentaries. As is always the case with Lift-Off, winners are selected via audience choice and will be awarded with introductions to directorial agents and booking managers, as well as the chance to have their work reviewed by the national and international press. Lift-Off wish to bring back the art of film-making and, most importantly, to bring back the talent behind it.

If any of our readers are filmmakers and wish to benefit from a discount to submit they may use the submission code LiverpoolIndie for a 25% discount. Final deadline for submissions is February 20th.