“In 1998, Christopher Nolan made a film called ‘Following’ that was about 60 minutes and was shot using an ultra-low budget. The film went on to become a success because of a very good script,” said AUC engineering senior Zeyad Qassem.
Qassem and two other friends, Marawan Morsi and Abdel Rahman Azzam, started Pocket Cinema with the hope of jumpstarting filmmakers’ careers and producing high quality cinema with a low budget, much like Nolan did.
Pocket Cinema is a short film production company that focuses on short low-budget films and is officially launching sometime this year, but for now, Qassem and his friends are competing in the business plan competition at the American University in Cairo, hoping to win its first prize of EGP 50,000.
Qassem sees cinema as a tool for telling a good story: “You do not need fancy gadgets and expensive cameras, you need talent and a good idea.”
The target for Pocket Cinema will be 10-15 minute short films that they aim to spread through use of social media. “I see shorter films of this format as the new form of entertainment, with the presence of the internet and the decline in attention spans,” said Qassem.
What Qassem wants to offer filmmakers is the technical know-how and his marketing efforts: “Through social media and cultural venues, you can easily reach thousands of people. We also have a production team that includes a filmmaker who is experienced with shorts, an editor, a cinematographer and a composer. With a good idea, a filmmaker has all he needs to produce a film that will get his name out there.”
Qassem said they are looking for filmmakers who are talented and creative, but also disciplined and have good work ethic: “We work on a very tight budget, a couple of thousand pounds at the most, and so we need someone with a vision that can put these resources into good use but [who] also understands the limitations.”
The basic idea is that no matter who you are, if you make something good, you will get noticed. Pocket Cinema is ideal for film students, or recent graduates who want to get noticed in wider circles. As with Nolan, initiatives like Pocket Cinema show that with a little creativity, filmmakers can stretch their resources and their imagination to make something that truly stands out. And given that Nolan went on to make longer and hugely successful features like Memento and the Dark Knight Trilogy, we would say you should take your chances.