Film Courage: In the four years you were making AFTER WE LEAVE movie how are you balancing life? You’re a professor at Occidental College here in Los Angeles (Eagle Rock) with a family, how are you balancing this?
Aleem Hossain, filmmaker and AR/VR creator, assistant professor in media arts and culture at Occidental College: It’s a lot. The truth is I think that balance is never perfect. I often joke that what I think doesn’t get talked about enough is that the stage of life that I’m in right now is I don’t know that I do anything as well as I wish that I could. But I’m just trying to get all of it to at least be pretty good. Being a dad, being a professor, being a husband, being a filmmaker, they all have their demands. Every one of them is awesome. I wouldn’t give up any of them but making this movie is one of the most difficult things ever done and I don’t say that actually looking for pity but more like I think they just should be a more candid acknowledgement of how hard it is to balance those things.
For part of this movie I was a part-time professor, part-time stay-at-home dad and trying to make a feature and then you know now I’m a full professor at Occidental and you know I have two kids now instead of one when I started and that balance is difficult in so many ways in terms of just time, when can you get free to do it in terms of just resources. Those other things, there’s just spending money and that sort of stuff.
And then generally the hardest one I find is the shift in mindset that if I were to really encapsulate the phase of life I’m in right now, it’s having to shift gears and sort of take off different hats and put different hats on with no real transition points. To go from dad to Professor to filmmaker to dad, you know around that, there’s no mental space to sort of flip over and I’ve just accepted it I think. I’m just am where I am right now and I think there’s this image of filmmaking that is almost like it’s divorced from the rest of life. But again I think that this is the reality of independent cinema and every filmmaker I know knows this. I actually think we should talk about it more…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
ABOUT ALEEM HOSSAIN:
I’m a film writer/director, virtual reality creator, and professor.
I grew up in a Connecticut town so small that Pizza Hut would not deliver there until 1997… but my family was very diverse and international. My father is a Muslim from Bangladesh who immigrated to the US. My mother was born and raised in Connecticut in a Roman Catholic family with roots in Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, and France. I grew up watching baseball and Bollywood, eating curry under a Christmas tree, and waiting for the day when Oreos would no longer use lard as an ingredient… also not until 1997! This multi-cultural mashup has shaped me as an artist.
Most recently, I wrote and directed AFTER WE LEAVE, a gritty sci-fi drama feature film won Best Feature Film at SCI FI LONDON in May 2019 and will soon be released theatrically in the United States.
I was selected for the initial Oculus Launchpad program, a VR incubator run by Facebook/Oculus, where I began developing my ongoing documentary VR series, I NEVER TOLD YOU.
I was an artist-in-residence at the 2017 VR Action Lab where I created NO EASY ANSWERS, a VR anti-bullying project, in collaboration with Google, Harmony Labs, and Screenwriters Colony. It has been translated into several languages and is used by Google Daydream in schools around the world.
I’m currently developing YOU ARE FOREVER, YOU ARE EVERYONE, an interactive narrative sci-fi VR experience with the support of the Tribeca Film Institute.
I am also the ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF DIGITAL STORYTELLING at OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE in Los Angeles where my teaching and research are focused on expanding how we tell stories and who gets to tell them.
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Now on Kickstarter! UNCONDITIONAL (or Berznosacjiuma In Latvian) is a short film that tells the story of an English man that moves to Latvia with his wife. Shortly after they have their first child, she passes away. He decides to stay in order to raise his child as close to how he and his wife intended. With this, come the struggles of single parenthood and living in a foreign country.