Tag Archives: Danish Wakeel

Dearth in Venice: the premiere of “The Island”

18 Jul

Danish Wakeel with his girl-next-door from his short film, The Island

You need bags of self-belief to make a film. But where does self-belief end and hubris begin? The Island, which proudly announces it is “A Film By Danish Wakeel”, even though two lesser mortals are credited with script-writing and directing, may cross that line.

An early teaser proclaimed “Brace yourself… IT’S HAPPENING… 2013”. The tagline says the film is “inspired by the Italian cornucopia supervened by the heritage and the avalanche of Venice”. That’s not a synopsis. It’s more a series of grandiose words connected at random, as though Wakeel, a fashion designer and model whom I met at the London Film Entrepreneurs night, had gone into a wardrobe of words and thrown together an outfit blindfolded.

The Island had a much-touted red-carpet Leicester Square premiere last week, hosted by the London Model Academy – at Ruby Blue nightclub. The 18-minute film was due to start at 9pm, but with red-carpet interviews it ran late, as premieres often will, and didn’t get going, finally, until 9.45… by which time I had to leave. Though judging from the first few minutes, this didn’t feel like a tragedy.

Danish Wakeel is an absurdly handsome man: gigantic pecs, pouty lips, narrowed eyes, enviably thick hair, permanent serious-face. You could picture him as a film star, if not, perhaps, a great auteur. To him, it probably makes sense that his character could sashay into a masked ball, sit down on his own, and so impress two giggly babes with his sheer radiant masculinity that they would come over to invite him wordlessly to a bed-based private view of their lingerie collection. But this audience member found it harder to suspend disbelief. And that’s as far as I got.

Viewing the rest of the film on YouTube is no more enlightening. Wakeel’s character has a beautiful female neighbour, who complains about the noise from his techno-soundtracked orgies. (The following night he is joined by a third girl; how the five of them – I am including Wakeel’s ego – all fit in one bed I don’t know.) However, his pouty lips and narrowed eyes soon win her over.

Her mother is being unfaithful to her father; her father has a gun. But even this creates no sense of drama, and an absurd amount of dialogue takes place one-sidedly, on the phone. No editor is listed in the credits, and it shows. The interiors could be anywhere, and no one speaks Italian, so any connection with Venice aside from a travel montage at the start is unclear; nor, for that matter, with cornucopias and avalanches.

And then the film just… stops. There are apparently another two parts of this oeuvre to come. Ye gods.

Kudos to Wakeel, however, for making a film at all; it is a ridiculously difficult thing to do. Perhaps the ensuing parts will gain from the experience of making the first – a professional editor might be a good start. And one interesting insight comes out of it, at least: who knew Zoolander was such a well-observed documentary?

Film networking events: where to booze and schmooze

5 Jul


The first monthly gathering of the London Film Entrepreneurs club, at the Pure bar in Camden last night (above), was a great success. As a quick for-instance, I chatted to Dave Sohanpal, a highly experienced sound guy who works mostly in commercials, but still regrets turning down From London to Brighton; to Danish Wakeel, a designer/model who exhibits at London Fashion Week, and whose film The Island premieres next week; and to Andy Williams, an ex-exec with the commendably ambitious aim of making an Oscar-winning short within the year.

I mention specifics only to demonstrate that, at these things, you never know who you’re going to meet: actors, composers, animators, producers, writers, editors, lighting technicians. Film is a collaborative medium. The more potential collaborators you have, the better.

So don’t be shy. If you are in the film business, or want to be, your first port of call should be www.shootingpeople.org, a virtual film community of 38,000 members worldwide which releases daily newsletters with film discussion and pleas for help: it’s through this that I got to collaborate with director Tony Errico on the short film Colonel Badd, which we took to Cannes this May. They also hold regular “real-world” pub drinks, in London and elsewhere.

Euroscript, Soho Screenwriters and Raindance all hold seminars and workshops as well as occasional get-togethers; I’ve also enjoyed People In Media’s networking events, and there’s a big one coming up on the 16th; as for the London Film Entrepreneurs, join the club on Facebook here. Finally, I heartily recommend the unstoppable whirlwind of enthusiasm and practical advice that is Chris Jones and his Guerilla Film network. His inspirational weekend Masterclass took place in June, but there are many more one-off events to come.

The British sometimes look down on networking as a shallow American invention. If so, think of it, instead, as just meeting up for a pint or three with a bunch of people who all love movies. It’s easy to get chatting: it’s one place you know that everyone’s there to meet new people. A simple “So what do you do?”, like the Queen, will suffice as a conversation-starter. Make sure you take business cards, natch, and write a memory-jogging note on the ones you get in return – otherwise next morning you will find yourself leafing blearily through a sheaf of cards wondering who the hell each belongs to.

So, see you there! Mine’s an ice-cold Stella.