What I Misunderstood About Being A Director — Aleem Hossain

Film Courage: What has been the hardest part of filmmaking you’ve had to learn?

Aleem Hossain, filmmaker and AR/VR creator, assistant professor in media arts and culture at Occidental College: The hardest part has been to give up some of my moment-to-moment control and to realize that in doing that I actually gain artistic control. I came to filmmaking I think from the visual side. I thought that when I started filmmaking editing was my favorite part of the process where it’s just me and I can make every decision and for awhile it was. Now my favorite part is being on set with an amazing cinematographer, with amazing actors and being open to what that process yields.

It’s been a hard journey because it felt like I was giving up directorial vision at first because frankly I think I had a misunderstanding of what directorial vision is. I think I thought it was I’m going to micromanage every detail. What I’ve come to realize is that if I know very clearly what I want, what I want the audience to feel, what the point of the movie is, if I know that and can communicate it then I can actually delegate a surprising amount of work and I will literally get that thing I wanted because people who know the point and know the goal but then have space to do their own work and they produce excellent work. If you communicate well, it’s work entirely in sync with what you wanted.

Film Courage: Then there is the flip side of people who are too loose with everything…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


Occidental College


AFTER WE LEAVE by 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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