Industry veterans lay groundwork for film guild
KARACHI:Charles Plumb was an American navy pilot stationed in Vietnam back in the day. He ran out of luck after 75 successful combat missions, when his plane was shot down by an air missile. Plumb, however, managed to eject himself from the aircraft in the nick of time and parachuted to the ground. Several years after, the fighter pilot and his wife were approached by a man while having dinner in a restaurant. The man revealed that it was him who had packed Plumb’s parachute that fateful day to which the latter gasped in surprise and gratitude.
This was the anecdote narrated by Hashim Raza to stakeholders of the Pakistani entertainment industry when he pitched the idea of a film guild to them. “The idea behind the guild is very simple: acknowledging the efforts of each and every person in the film-making process, right from actors and directors to camera operators and the light guys,” Raza explained to The Express Tribune. “Actors and directors tend to get all the accolades. It is the technical department that always misses out.”
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As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cinepax Cinemas, Raza is of the opinion that there needs to be a proper standard operating procedure for film-making in Pakistan. He compared his vision for the Pakistani film guild to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in America. He also touched upon the difficulties he faced himself when starting out in this line of work, lamenting the absence of a proper channel through which the next generation of film-makers and studio executives could come through. “It was either the people who had a lot of money that were venturing into film-making or the old guards [directors such as Syed Noor] who were continuing to make substandard movies. There was no place where a young film-maker could go to seek mentorship,” he explained.
With a proper film guild in place, Raza believes that aspiring film-makers will know the right individuals to approach and seek guidance from. Safeguarding the interests of the industry’s stakeholders and promoting the new wave of film-makers seems to be at the heart of the organisation. However, Raza reiterated that these were not their sole objectives. “What we really want is to provide a financially viable model for the film industry,” he claimed.
The guild is a joint brainchild of both Raza and film distributor, Satish Anand — also the CEO of Eveready Pictures. It is currently in the planning stage and expected to follow a membership system — much like its American counterpart. “Initially, we want to get as many people from the film industry to join in. Then, in the long run, we can have different guilds for each craft — like an actor’s guild, screenwriter’s guild, director’s guild and so on.”
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With no financial incentive, the initiative has already won a lot of praise from industry insiders, most notably from Wajahat Rauf. The Karachi Se Lahore director was present in the latest meeting where the guild’s proposal was discussed. He even shared some of the major talking points from the session. Where safeguarding the interest of film crews and clashing of release dates were some of the main topics of concern; two other pertinent issues that were raised included approaching government for film-making subsidies and conducting an award show independent of any local television channel.
However, not every member of the film fraternity seems to be on the same page. Renowned cinematographer and a member of the technical department, Rana Kamran, advised against forming a film union, saying that the industry was still too nascent for a guild. “We should let more talent come through before we move forward with this,” he said. “That would allow us to have a nice mix of the old and the new. Otherwise, we’d be handing control in the hands of the same old people.”