Uprising in association withLBB & Friends Beach

Uprising: Mariam Gabunia’s Emphasis on Memorability and Emotion

Production Company
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
electriclime Dubai’s senior editor and colourist on her leading roles in childhood productions and continually being inspired by the people she meets, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Creatives often grow up making up stories and sharing them with family and friends, this was no different for electriclime Dubai’s senior editor and colourist, Mariam Gabunia.

Growing up in a big family meant Mariam was always surrounded by people and had plenty to entertain her. As a child, being with her relatives meant creating ‘events’ to entertain everyone. “I made everyone participate in a concert or a play that I would lead, the audience sat on a big staircase in my grandfather's house and everyone would watch us,” says Mariam. With lots of recordings of these pieces, she loves to look back on them and create different edits which revives her memories.

Aside from being the lead character, Mariam “loved reading books and watching old movies” which she gained inspiration from. She says, “It always inspired me to create something of my own that would be equally emotional and memorialised.” 

Mariam grew up with a heavy influence from her Caucasus heritage, a traditional and conservative area that’s part of the Republic of Dagestan, Russia. This traditional culture mixed with her upbringing in the more modern location of Dubai influenced her greatly, “I was brought up as a modest and mindful person. Moreover, growing up in the international community of Dubai made me an accepting and unprejudiced person who is fascinated by diversity.” Listening and being considerate were strongly emphasised when Mariam was growing up, “I learned how to be hardworking and caring thanks to my background. These values are always with me, no matter where I am and what I am doing.”

With these strong values behind her, Mariam studied digital production and storytelling at an American university in Dubai. Through her course, she learnt about the pre-production and post-production process, and gained an insight into production as a whole, trying her hand at several aspects of the process. While it was a valuable experience, Mariam took her time to figure out what she wanted to do. She says, “I can’t say I had any specific talents, but I loved reading, writing stories, and analysing movies. So, I decided to study journalism, hoping that would enhance my writing skills and this would be something that I enjoy. However, after two semesters I decided to move to filmmaking, a very spontaneous decision that I didn’t even discuss with anyone.” Once on set, she felt butterflies - indicating she had made the right decision.

Navigating through her career as a young professional, Mariam says, “I still have a lot of experience to gain.” Mindful of people who express the need to ‘be vocal’, make sure they’re heard and share their ideas loudly, Marium feels that restraint is also an important skill. “A lot of young people in this field speak ‘too loud’, thinking they know best and acting too confident and that very often comes out as arrogance. For some, this might suffice but I don’t like to deal with people who are like that. I would say the lesson I learned is to be patient and listen. Listen to what others have to say, absorb it and then speak your ideas. Patience is a virtue.”

A storyteller through and through, editing is the aspect that Marium believes carries a piece forward. “Through music and sound effects… through colours as well. It's truly amazing to me and what I love most is that, like any art form, it can be interpreted in different ways, depending on whose eyes are watching your film.” While relishing these aspects of her work, there is always the opportunity for criticism as people form their own opinions on pieces. Mariam finds that if people form a negative opinion, as a creative, that can be the trickiest situation to deal with. “The challenging part I would say is explaining your creative idea, because that means justifying your edit or film, however, I completely understand that in the commercial world, more often we don’t have too much freedom to be too abstract and or even too creative.” Through the process, she’s learnt to accept that people have different ideas and that it’s ok to receive criticism.

Like many young people, Mariam finds inspiration on social media, staying up to date but also hearing a diverse range of opinions on what people think. “It’s amazing that we can read and see people’s thoughts and can use that to our advantage when creating something new. I think that capturing everyone’s ideas and thoughts is important for a person in my profession as I continue to create media for others.” 

A person who values her alone time, Mariam uses quiet moments to reset and prepare herself for what’s ahead. “I love to create something that may impact others, sometimes it doesn’t take much - the right words at the right time presented in a beautiful light and angle. I would say travelling and telling stories is my passion.” Before the pandemic, she often travelled, mentioning how people-watching was one of her favourite things to do, “when you sit in a middle of a busy square somewhere and Europe sipping your coffee and there is life happening around you, so much can be told by the way people interact or watching someone in a cafe on a quiet little street making up my own story life for that person,” she says. “I’m genuinely inspired by human beings.”

In her free time, Marium turns to platforms such as TikTok, Netflix and other outlets of creativity. Speaking on the social media video app, she remarks on how diverse and relatable content catches her eye and inspires her to create. “With the wide range of platforms such as Netflix, I always tend to find something new to watch. And obviously like to go back to my old favourites and classics.”

When it comes to motivation, Mariam says, “I am a perfectionist at heart. My whole life, I loved being the ‘creator’ of things. I like being a leader and I like to create. I think these qualities always drive me to learn and achieve new things. Ever since I started working, I opened a whole new chapter of my life. What’s great about this industry is that it brings you together with so many different people from such diverse backgrounds, and getting to know them and hearing their stories is what helps me get perspective on life and that somehow reflects in my work.”