I’m a creative entrepreneur and founder of an independent content creation company, Ali Rasoul LTD, committed to uncompromising visions. I’m a contractor to some of the world’s best-known brands, including some among the top 100 entertainment companies in the UK and US. I’ve had the opportunity to work with A-list clients such as Spike Lee, Jordan Peele and Wizkid, and have developed ongoing relationships with labels such as Universal Music Group and Warner Music.
I’ve been fortunate to build relationships and networks that enable me to travel around the world for work, and attend prestigious events such as the Grammy Award week in Los Angeles. This all started with my participation on the 2017 BFI Film Academy Craft Skills course, delivered by the National Film & Television School.
I’ve always had an interest in recreating the cinematic elements we see in movies. Understanding the deeper meanings behind the film narrative intensified my interest in filmmaking. Working in the film industry can seem overwhelming and a bit too much to handle. The great thing is, support exists out there, it’s all about having the courage to seek it in the right places and take the first step.
In 2017 I decided to apply to the BFI Film Academy and pursue a career as a professional filmmaker. Every creative or filmmaker has their own journey that is unique and vital to them, it’s what builds their identity and personality and ultimately becomes the reason why others want to work with you.
While beginning in the industry as a young creative, I never actually had a sense of guidance or any tips to follow. I was very open to encountering things as they occurred and taking risks that later on taught me valuable lessons. Below are some things I had to consider throughout my filmmaking journey that I believe would be of value to consider when starting.
Get inspired, keep learning and don’t be discouraged
During the BFI Film Academy Residential Craft Skills course I received valuable tutoring from industry specialists such as BAFTA award winner Brian Tufano, known for his cinematography in Trainspotting (1996) and Billy Elliot (2000) and attended masterclasses by influential guest speakers that equipped me with essential knowledge and the tools I needed.
Attending events such as the BFI Film Academy monthly LAB events (formerly Future Film) really helped me understand the power of networking and of being around other creatives. This was a tipping point for me – it added more fuel that drove my passion for creating content and strengthened my self-belief to dream big. Don’t be afraid of attending networking events by yourself, that’s what they’re for.
Like many other teenagers I experienced discouragement and lack of self-confidence, especially being the youngest in the room. But companies need new ideas to stay relevant, and talented young people with fresh ideas can help companies adapt to the future and achieve their business goals. By focusing on these key points I built my confidence. Build your knowledge by reading books and watching films that inspire you to take action, prioritise your time and commit to your journey because anything and everything is possible. Appreciate your creative journey and never compare yours to others.
You never know who could have an impact on your journey so it’s good to know how to approach organisations and influential people. A respectful attitude with good manners can speak volumes and I tended to get a higher chance of a response – be articulate and positive. Even something as simple as registering your email domain can improve the way you are perceived, and can result in meeting a new client and getting work. I was able to attract interest from a music video director that I really admire, George Guise, founder of Visionnaire Pictures and was honoured to work with him on his projects with major artists including Tory Lanez, Maleek Berry and Sarkodie.
Social media is key
In a world where much of what we do is through social media, it can be a really useful tool, if used safely, to develop your career. You can build a network of creative peers for support, reach out to like-minded people directly and explore a wide range of brands across film, fashion, music, as well as the more corporate side of things. Instagram has benefited me in infinite ways, such as being approached by highly recognised figures like Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Bankulli. He inspired me and introduced me to major contacts including Wizkid, Davido, Teddy Riley, and more. Social media platforms help to display my creative talents (like a CV) and ultimately build my credibility. When you create content consistently you enhance your online presence and benefit your ‘brand’.
Keep going, keep creating and look for opportunities
The BFI Film Academy has been supportive by offering regular programmes, masterclasses and partnerships with institutions like the NFTS, and the results speaks for itself. Over the past few years their Future Skills Programme has put young trainees on the sets of some major movies like Marvel Studios’ Black Widow, Disney’s Cruella and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Moving forward, my new podcast, Creative Entrepreneurs, will be out by the end of 2020, on Spotify and YouTube. I created it to share knowledge and value with creatives about ways to further develop their business and skillset. It features industry and influential public figures, who will be sharing insightful breakdowns and a step-by-step guide of tried and tested methodologies.