Thu, 17 Jun 2021 14:39:15 GMT
Sequoia Content chats to new hire Amr Singh about his work and time in the industry.
Sequoia Content’s reputation for exceptional creative work and the quality of talent on their roster made them a really attractive choice in my mind. But it was really after chatting to Suzanne (the EP) and the director’s reps that a shared vision started to emerge – I really felt like they understood my approach and ambitions. After a couple of calls with the team, I knew that I had found my Canadian home.
There are many tiers to content creation in a contemporary sense. Brands have a plethora of options in how they take their products to their audiences. Within that multi-faceted dichotomy, there continues to exist a particular type of film that stands a band apart.
Work that is brave, built on insightful, creative, ambitious execution, and an unwavering and uncompromising dedication to “craft.” That’s work that I’m attracted to, and as soon as it became clear that that was also the work that the Sequoia Content are excited to make, the big click happened.
My entry into the industry was both organic and one of circumstance. While studying Social Anthropology and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town in the early 2000s, I bandied together with a fellow student, Shukri Toefy, to shoot ultra-low-budget video content in an attempt to earn some money to pay back our student loans. Shukri was studying law at the time, and I would 'borrow' DV camcorders from the University’s AV department to shoot our videos.
As it happened, our foray into content production snowballed, and we were afforded the opportunity to shoot a film about a youth exchange programme in Ireland during our graduating year. We skipped our grad ceremonies and jumped on a flight to Europe.
From there, FORT was formed, and 15 years later, it’s one of the most highly regarded production companies on the African continent.
I was a runner, as well as a VTO on features (back when VT was recording on DV tapes and lugging around a rather robust CRT monitor). But really, my craft has been honed 'on the job.' It’s been a shade over a decade of full-time directing now, and the progression of quality over those 10 years is hard to miss.
That’s the beautiful thing about this vocation – the next job can always be a step forward. I see a lot of new directors entering the market and putting pressure on themselves to produce highly nuanced, textured work. I really believe that the skill to craft comes with time.
Not since graduating from university. However, as a student, I worked in a processing lab at a camera store.
As a director, it’s valuable to be open to the creative potential of virtually anything. Inspiration can come from anywhere, even your own wandering mind. The obvious spaces are photography, music and writing – and there are many brilliant creatives in these disciplines that I reference in my career.
My first significant milestone was a SHOTS YDA in 2013. It was a very exciting moment for me, and I was lucky enough to attend the ceremony in Cannes during the Lions Festival. The project is still dear to my heart and will forever on the list of “things I’d like to re-edit when I have a chance to”.
That’s a difficult question to answer. I like to be very honest about my own work, and when I review the projects I’ve just completed, I tend to break them down as a lesson for improvement. So my mind doesn’t always go to a self-aggrandizing space.
If I were to pick one particular piece, it would be the spot that I directed for 1000 Women and TBWA/Hunt Lascaris. It’s a GBV film that uses the tropes of a kids’ toy commercial to break through to the audience. It seems to really trigger something in the audience, which was exactly what we were attempting to do.
(The campaign is a One Show finalist and may have won something by the time you read this).
I’ve got a feature in development that I’m currently working on. The story is quite a personal one, and writing started as a cathartic exercise. It’s about ambition, connectedness and self-discovery – and all supported by the idea of how we impact each other through generations and even millennia.
Curiosity. Both about the world that we live in, as well as curiosity of what I am capable of creating.
It’s a cliché, but you have to be obsessive about everything. I do, however, put a lot of preparation into art direction and wardrobe. I think that these are important levers in creating a tonality and texture to your work.
Performance is also something that’s very important to me, and I make sure that I have enough rehearsal time with the talent. If the actors understand the spot in a conceptual sense and are in a good place to give consistent performances before the shoot day, it allows me to focus on blocking and staging on the day.
Thorough and methodical. I really try and internalize the brief on a foundational level and then build out a good plan to execute from there. Storyboarding my vision is incredibly important to me, and I will often do this at my own cost. It helps get the various departments on the same page, giving them a visual reference to exactly how I see the spot.
When I see bravery in the work of others, I find that really inspiring. Risk is a critical step in creating something exceptional. We can typically guarantee “competent,” but it takes a level of risk to aim for “exceptional.”
My family is really important to me. I love being a dad and being a part of my children’s growth – it gives you a really unique perspective on things. I’ve recently begun baking – though I wouldn’t classify it as a passion quite yet.
Find more of Amr's work here: https://bit.ly/3q5dsnK
Categories: Media and Entertainment, TV and RadioSequoia Content, Thu, 17 Jun 2021 14:39:15 GMT