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Meet Los Angeles Director Hassan Said of finished filming a feature film with a 97 minute One take shot

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hassan Said.

Hassan Said is a trilingual, Egyptian born, award-winning Director as well as Producer, Writer – with over decade plus experience in motion pictures, commercials, music videos, documentary and web content. Furthermore, Hassan is also a member of the Screen Actors Guild of America. He has created content in English, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese and French.

Upon graduating from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Hassan began working as a videographer/editor at the renowned agency Goodby, Silverstein and Partners for clients like Yahoo, NBA, Sprint, Cheetos, Dickies, HP, Adobe, Haagen Dazs, to name a few. Not soon after, Hassan traveled to Angola with the sponsorship of ministry of culture to produce and mentor a Portuguese speaking film Alambamento which went on to win multiple awards and gain distribution in over 40+ countries as well as platforms like Amazon, iTunes and more. Fast forward several years later, his work has won multiple awards, screened in over 50 festivals in over 40 countries with write-ups by independent critics as well as international magazine outlets globally. Later he moved to Los Angeles working on multiple projects from commercials to television to narrative with prominent clients like Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, MJZ, Biscuit Filmworks, Focus Features, NBC and more in multiple capacities.

He has directed over ten award-winning narrative short films, as well as a number of commercials, music videos, web series and documentary content. Currently, he is developing over five feature films, music videos and other projects in the United States and abroad. He hopes to continue to tell stories of self-awareness and vivid realities. His poetic use of striking characters and imagery explores the psychological impact of both life’s shocking and heartwarming moments.

Recently conceptualized with fellow filmmaking partners and collaborators from around the globe: an arts and entertainment group agency with the awesome name PIGEON ROOST COLLABORATIVE – a Filmmakers company representing directors/cinematographers as well as integrated and delivering Creative, Production, Post Production, and Foreign Production Services. The motto will always be “We Leave It All On The Screen”.

In 2019, Hassan embarked on directing, producing, and writing on the upcoming feature film THIS IS YOUR SONG. An ambitious tour-de-force project set in San Francisco that incorporates a 97-minute one take shot.

When he’s not working, you can find Hassan hammering at his typewriter working on his five features in development for US and abroad; maybe wandering the streets of Los Angeles or San Francisco taking pictures with his old Hasselblad or showcasing his photography in various galleries and exhibitions locally and globally.

He holds a dual AMERICAN and EGYPTIAN citizenships.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It was one of the most cathartic and hardest experiences making a film like THIS IS YOUR SONG. The idea originally began to sprout in the fall of 2017- where suddenly I have been facing a very tough year, from a roller coaster emotional divorce, diagnosed with high blood pressure, suffering a concussion, my father went through a number of surgeries as well as my mother suffering a heart attack overseas while I wasn’t there. For the past seven years, all I did was hustle after freelance work to stay afloat in marriage and debts, while attempting to get one out of six feature films off the ground one way or another. Writing one screenplay after the other in order to craft the simplest, smallest and most intimate possible story. The result was that I lost my home and living mostly out of my car practically (while paying it off), went broke, and forgo any hope in every possible aspect of my existence, caving in a very dark place of mental/emotional disintegration. Contemplating my previous relationships, maybe I was desperate for love, always have been part of my life, ‘Cause a lot of people are frightened to death of love. I was in a quandary, philosophical quandary, because, I thought if I am not my brother’s keeper, who am I; where does my life end and my sense of responsibility to other lives begin. This is how this picture came to life. Many awards later- I set out to write with, and mentor my co-writer/talented poet Lourdes Figueroa to bring a Female voice to the project to diversify the voices and actions. I had been dabbling with some ideas in my head about a film that takes place in mostly one location with two characters, in one take, and it all started to piece together making it hard to turn around on such a concept. We finished the first draft of the screenplay in two weeks, within mind the technical feat of timing and executing this whole story in one single take from beginning to end; seeing how a long term marriage can simply put to the test in the course of a night. To experiment further, I decided to send the screenplay not only to fellow master screenwriters and filmmakers, but also regular friends and acquaintances who knew nothing about the craft of screenwriting. The reaction of readers was overwhelmingly positive- we knew we were creating something honest, relatable and special, striking major chords with readers- some readers cried, others sided with Jules over James and vice versa- creating a confirmed realization that the story affects people in an intimate, personal way.

Shortly after, the team started to assemble and the film took a life of its own. I drove up to San Francisco in my car which became my contemporary definition of home, and setup times to meet a number of theatre companies/houses who welcomed me with open arms, offering any form of help, hungry for a unique story to shoot in their beloved city, resulting in me being engorged in my excitement to push forward into doing everything I can to bring this motion picture to life in my favorite city in the world.

The film touches upon if not embraces the ever-changing nature of our behavior in a romantic intimate union. Examining the “I vs ME vs US” dynamic through psychological and behavioral exploration of situations and love in way of softness but also through brutal truth and at times manipulation; when you co-exist with a partner for so long. Furthermore, the landscape of San Francisco in all aspects specifically how social-inequality bleeds into our day to day lives . As a marriage disintegrates, we witness and feel the weight of a love that struggles to exist in place that is beginning to leave no space for the working class nor the artist. The weight of gentrification and the reality of the artist of color lives in the middle of a perishing union. The question of the American Dream and the reality of classism envelop the end of a love story.

The inspiration came to me revisiting Ingmar Bergman’s films, who was notorious for his theatre influence. Also reading again various of the favorite writings of Jack Kerouac and Henry Miller during that period of desolation. My primary focus while manifesting the film was starting with the audience- creating an archetype of play within a film in a continuous 90 min take unedited/uncut story, captured on a wide angle lens, unveiling the secrets and layers of the characters struggling to breath them to one another, unable to look away from the tension brewing in front of their eyes with only ambient sounds and a vinyl record in the distance. Wrapping it with a bow and ending: a timeline montage of their first times their eyes seen one another, falling in love and consummation. The hardship of maintaining a relationship, goals, aspirations, power struggle, absence of love, and socio-economic inequality which is universal themes we all relate to in various instances of our lives expressed in the film.

On a technical aspect, the film is approached in a very unique and delicate matter. The film was set up for rehearsals for six weeks to pull off a 97-minute ONE take shot to capture the story in its raw form. Me and the actors worked for six days a week at 6 hours a day for six weeks to get the blocking, line, camera, choreography all down for the long take. The crew and the cast learned a dance to move from interior locations to exterior, working with practical lighting and microphone plants in a harmonious way. The visual aesthetic for the film is unique, to say the least. We are approaching this in a floating POV, docu-drama feel of shooting the entire story in ONE CONTINUOUS TAKE, handheld, to keep the tension building. The main color that will pop in important story beats is Purple, along with muted pastel yellows, greens, blues and reds. We shot on Digital 35 (Arri Alexa Mini), the Oner in a wide-angle prime lens that distorts the image slightly on the edges, creating a claustrophobic effect when framing close-ups. The audience will feel immersed in the whole story from beginning to end, unable to blink away. The camera’s performance is choreographed around Jules and James as they negotiate the last moments of their marriage. The montage in the end of the film will be captured using a Steadicam with anamorphic lenses, providing a stark visual and emotional contrast from the oner that the audience just experienced.

Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about your work and career so far?
I am an award-winning director with 13 plus year experience in directing content in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese screening in over 40 film festivals as well as over 50 countries. I have been fortunate that for the past decade plus I have been able to create content I care for and believe in. Write, develop and produce original content in the US and abroad with wide recognitions through various film festivals and global screenings.

With my latest film, THIS IS YOUR SONG, after applying for multiple grants, asking various people for money and planning a major festival run in the US and abroad, and many more surprises for the film to be announced online on our various social media and official film website

With all the hurdles there has been many bright moments. We just received news that our film has been selected with open arms and immense support by FILM INDEPENDENT LA, a great and reputable non profit that supports independent filmmakers,  for fiscal sponsorship, they have been very supportive and ecstatic about our plans for the film. Soon, we will be launching a donation page of the film on the Film Independent’s website, with also a public trailer and more behind the scenes awesomeness.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
The film could have never been done without the amazing cast and crew who dedicated their time, skills and belief towards making a film that is truly independent and original in its conceptualization and execution. One of the most changing and magical emotional experiences I have challenged myself to embark on- lots of days with no time to eat, time to sleep or time to even breath- blood, sweat, and many tears poured through this impeccable learning journey. I cannot thank enough every single cast, crew, and person who helped and supported us every step of the way (too many names sorry if I forgot anyone) – we couldn’t have made this madness a reality without every single one of you.

Maria Karpoukhina, Peggy Peralta, Briana Walsh, Jordan Potch, Joanna Kay, Edward Hightower, L. Jeffrey Moore, Luke Myers, Jenna Davi, Margaret Caragan, Jacob Hayman, Cole Winkour, Jeremiah Keller, Hilton Day, Dominic Martin, Judy Lewis, Jamie Metzger, Matt Wood, Mitch Martin, Cheryl Moody, Geoffrey LIbby, Jim Baldwin,Matthew Stouppe, William Dauel Jason Halley, Daniel Macchiarini, Jaszmine Nicholes, Lourdes Figueroa, Chris Camacho, Steven Lagosh, jon Boo, Citylights Bookstore, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s publishers, San Francisco Film Commission, and many many more names to thank who were part of this filmmaking experience.

More importantly I want to thank everyone who turned their backs on us, who said No, who flaked, who didn’t pull through, thank you sincerely. This is just the first step of this very personal, very challenging and very unique filmmaking experience- and now post-production commences. We did it! All the love and gratitude. I salute you.

Thank you for all who helped us along the way and still do, for believing in this film, for standing behind minority and immigrant artists alike. Thank you for supporting the arts and bringing voices of storytelling to life. Thank you for keeping true independent films alive. Thank you for sharing the journey with us all.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos by Amanda Gonzalez, Ron Koeberer, Peggy Peralta and Hassan Said

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