Making Pakistan Proud; Pakistani Filmmaker Hamza Baig Selected as a Mentee for Forecast 7 in Germany

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Around 600 entries from 100 countries were sent in for the contest, 18 of which were finalized and only 6 of those are now receiving production support for their ideas; Hamza is one of the six

We often hear about how Pakistani filmmaking is headed towards a slow decline, but that is not the case with independent filmmakers, who despite their small budgets have at times done better than most high-budget mainstream movies. An example is Hamza Baig, a lecturer at NUST, whose idea of creating a rural Pakistani superhero show, has secured a place in the Forecast mentorship program.

A project of the Skills e.V., Forecast aims at selecting the most credible and creative idea proposals from around the world and giving them a mentor to each thus making them a mentee. Once all mentors are done selecting their mentees, the real work starts. With the help of their mentor, the mentee has to work on their proposed ideas and then exhibit it in front of a large audience.

Giving aspiring creators the chance to work with well-achieved individuals will not just enhance the quality of outcome, but also provides a framework for collaborative development of the idea and a well-known stage to present it. Since its creation, the Forecast mentorship program has always been a great success and has allowed creative ideas to nourish and take great form. The selection of Hamza in the 7th edition to give life to his amazing idea is surely a piece of great news for Pakistan.

Hamza’s Idea and Mentor

Almost everyone loves superhero movies and TV shows, and most of them are placed in developed metropolitans with skyscrapers. However, Hamza went a little out of the box and decided to create a superhero story existing in a small Pakistani village.

Named ‘The Marblous Four’, the live-action superhero is set up in the imaginary village of Geetapur. Focused around a game of five stones, the story soon takes a superhero twist when that village’s children find that those marbles were magical and possessed some special powers.

While the plot might mostly sound serious it has a lot of humor, during a private conversation with TechJuice Hamza Baig said that “The Marblous Four is very quirky and reminiscent of classic cartoons from cartoon network. It also derives inspiration from the French film Amelie and Hollywood films of the ‘80s. So yes, it has room for a lot of humor”. Judging by Hamza’s comments, you can expect the project to be as funny and quirky as its mentor Daliso Chaponda. Chaponda is a Zambian-born Malawian comedy legend, who not only has been a finalist in Britain Got Talent, worked in multiple TV shows, and also runs a Radio Show.

While speaking about Chaponda and his mentorship, Hamza said that “Daliso is incredibly talented and an absolute delight to be around. It has been my pleasure to be mentored by him.” He further told us that “Over the next couple of months, Daliso and I will be developing the pilot script and he is the perfect person to help inject more humor into the scenes. I am really looking forward to our collaboration.” he added.

Filmmaker Hamza Baig at the Forecast 7 stage. Copyright: ©Forecast 2022, Photo: Camille Blake

Shooting in Pakistani Villages: Turning non-actors into actors

Practicing a simple and modest life style, Pakistani villages have seen the least of digitization and technological innovations over the years, thus filming an entire TV show there will surely be a challenge for Hamza and his team. However Hamza’s knots to the rural side might come in handy, and people in the village turned out to be very supportive of the idea.

“The setting is inspired by the villages of Wahali Zer and Sultanpur, located in Chakwal. Our pitch film was also shot in the same locations. When we were shooting our pitch film, the locals were exhilarated because there hadn’t been such filmic activity there in decades.” Hamza said.

Hamza also told us that his rural family members were very excited and supportive on hearing that he will be shooting a show in their village. He explained, “Most of my family members are settled in the village and play a key role in acting, location scout, set design, and feeding our entire crew because they were so excited,”

A big challenge Hamza faced was getting non-acting villagers to act as per their roles in scenes. Kids playing the central role, according to Hamza were the most difficult to direct but soon acted so well that Hamza is considering them for the actual series as well.

A “tu-dum” Before an Original Pakistani Superhero Netflix series

Speaking about the future of the series, Hamza said that once the project is completed, its pilot episode will be displayed at the Forecast Festival in March 2023, at Radialsystem in Berlin. After that, the young filmmaker plans to pitch this to Netflix. “Long shot,” he says, “but if it all works out, you never know, you’ll get to hear a tu-dum before an original Pakistani Superhero Netflix series.”