Meet Film Production student and alumni duo Ilias and Naima
Director and Catalyst (formerly dBs Berlin) Film Production alumnus Ilias teamed up with cinematographer and second-year student Naima to create our My One Thing video series. The series asks several students "what is the one thing that fuels your creativity?." We met up with the formidable filmmaking duo to find out more about the series and their own creative process.
"You can meet a musician on one day and create a video with them on the next day. I’ve never lived in a place before that is so creative. Everyone just does their own thing here."
Tell us a bit about yourselves and what brought you to Berlin.
Ilias: My name is Ilias, I’m 19 years old and from France. I moved here in September 2016 and really like how easy it is here. When I think of Paris for instance, the artistic circle is quite elitist, which makes it difficult to be creative. Here, you can meet people from everywhere and they take you as you are. That’s the best thing about living in Berlin.
Naima: I was born in Malaysia, moved to Berlin in December 2015 and I love it here. It’s really inspirational to live in a city where there are so many young creatives who collaborate with each other. You can meet a musician on one day and create a video with them on the next day. I’ve never lived in a place before that is so creative. Everyone just does their own thing here.
How did you get involved in the My One Thing project?
Ilias: I did a one-year diploma at the film school last year. Temi from the storytelling team asked me if I wanted to work on this project and I said yes.
Naima: I’m in my second year of study. One day I got a phone call and was asked if I wanted to take part in a couple of projects. I had been recommended by Ilias because we worked well together on school assignments. We’re a pretty good team and there’s never any drama between us. Everything’s just chill and good vibes.
Ilias: Yes, and it’s also been like that this time… at least so far [laughs].
“It was quite interesting and also very intimate to get an insight into someone else’s creative world.”
What is My One Thing about?
Naima: My One Thing follows students who talk about the one thing that’s essential to their creative process in either music production or filmmaking. It was quite interesting and also very intimate to get an insight into someone else’s creative world.
Ilias: What made the project really interesting for me was that the focus was on promoting students and their work in Berlin rather than the school.
Naima: It’s great exposure for the students because we are using their music in the films. They also gave us a lot of input in terms of the locations for filming.
What did you learn over the course of the series?
Naima: At school we are taught how to use cameras and how to shoot documentaries and other types of films but the fastest way of learning is to actually start filming people. You need to be quick though, otherwise the moment is gone and you missed it.
Ilias: I agree, you have to learn how to catch the right moment because even though we were prepared, we had to improvise a lot during the shoots. We often filmed outside, with people who aren’t actors, and we also didn’t have the time to do dozens of takes.
Naima: And it’s also documentary filming, which means that you can plan certain shots but there are always things that will happen spontaneously. You really have to be on your feet.
Ilias: This was my first documentary experience and it was really interesting.
Naima: Yes, it was a good practice.
“It was very rewarding because at the end of the day I felt like I achieved something.”
How much did you know about the students you featured? Did you know them at all?
Naima: I knew Pietro Spinelli by name but I haven’t met anyone else before.
Ilias: Me neither. All the students we portrayed were new at the school.
What was the most fun thing about working on this project?
Naima: Definitely not the planning [laughs]. For me it was the shooting day, actually meeting the students, following them around Berlin with the camera and getting as many shots as possible. It was very rewarding because at the end of the day I felt like I achieved something.
Ilias: I agree, the best thing was meeting the students.
“I’m quite similar – when I write a story or edit a film in my room, I don’t need much else.”
Was there a story that stood out somehow because it reminded you of your own journey?
Naima: I could really relate to Kevin’s story. He talked about finding the time to meditate and stop all of his work. There are times when I also feel as if there’s so much work to do that it’s just piling up until there’s this huge mountain. I think it’s important to just take time off sometimes. To stop thinking about work, take time to meditate and calm down – and then go back to it after a day or two.
Ilias: For me it was Pietro’s story because the nights also inspire me the most, especially in a big city like Berlin. I love going out and seeing the city lights and I could also relate to his way of creating. When we shot at Pietro’s place it was small but very cosy and personal, he had everything there that he needed. I’m quite similar – when I write a story or edit a film in my room, I don’t need much else.
“I think music is a great basis for any kind of creative project.”
What is the one thing that fuels your creativity?
Naima: That’s a tough question. I enjoy painting a lot but sometimes I don’t know what to paint for months because I’ve got a block – but then I read a good book, see a good film or hear a really good track and I can just paint and paint. Music is definitely very inspiring for me.
Ilias: It’s quite similar for me, music is very important. Music or a good movie.
Naima: I think that’s also part of the reason why we were so excited about this project. We knew that it would be music-based and I think for both of us listening to a really good track can spark creativity.
Ilias: It was actually quite easy to imagine what to do in the videos because everyone was so inspired already. When we received Pietro’s text we knew quite quickly what his video should look like.
Naima: The music tracks we received also gave us an instant idea of the mood. I think music is a great basis for any kind of creative project.
What’s next – personally and professionally?
Naima: I’ll be shooting a documentary about an American saxophone player, which is very exciting. He’s always dressed in black and plays at U-Bahn stations and in jazz bars across the city. For a year or so I always saw him play on his saxophone but I never had the courage to approach him – until recently. He agreed to be filmed and I’m really excited for this project. Ilias and I will also work on a new project that’s called Space To Create, which is a continuation of My One Thing, so that’s also very exciting.
Ilias: I am currently trying to write a short film and I would like to direct it in summer, which means that I only have a few months to write it. At the moment I don’t really have time for anything else except this film and The Space To Create.
Click here to watch all of the My One Thing videos.