Reshel Shah is an independent British documentary filmmaker and lecturer at SAE Dubai. Her documentary ‘Black Sheep’ has won several international awards.
Reshel has also been awarded Humanitarian Filmmaker of the year and Filmmaker of Inspiration by the World Human Rights awards film festival, a festival that is run under the banner of the United Nations. Her work as a documentary filmmaker has also garnered recognition from the likes of Buzzfeed, Huffington Post and Kore Asian. We caught up with Reshel to chat with her about her filmmaking process and her next film “God Children”
Where are you from and what brought you to Dubai?
I was born and raised in the UK. After I graduated recession hit the economy. I then did a bit of research, found the UAE film industry and decided to move here.
What kind of work did you find in Dubai?
I worked with D7 for a year and Bareface for 3 years before I joined my current role as Film Lecturer at SAE Dubai. I’m also an independent documentary film-maker
Tell us about your first feature film
Black sheep was my first feature film. In 2014 I was married in Delhi. It was only then that I realized transgenders come to your wedding to bless you and in return you must give them money. I was really confused, I grew up in the UK around a large LGBT community and it was very open. In India they are usually portrayed as individuals that carry aids, live in the slums and are generally feared. I wanted to showcase a more human aspect to this story.
Was it difficult acquiring funding and getting a crew together?
We got funded through indigogo and I was able to find people in the UAE who are thriving and thirsty to do things on the creative side. We shot over 40 days but the film took two and a half years to complete since I also work full-time
How was it received by audiences?
Great! It was my first time directing and the film went to eight film festivals. Now I can't stop making documentaries because it’s the biggest buzz!
What is it you enjoy the most about documentary film-making?
I want to do right by people and give them a voice. Being a documentary filmmaker grants me this ability.
What are you currently working on?
I just filmed the trailer to my next film titled 'God Children'. It addresses the issue of deformations in India and how deformed children are sometimes regarded as gods. They are then forced to live with this condition instead of being given the right medical treatment.
What makes a good documentary director?
One must definitely know when to ask questions. A documentary director must possess people skills and always think ahead. Your editor will put together a narrative but you are the only one that can foresee tomorrows shoot.
What are your thoughts on the UAE film industry?
The film industry has grown with commercial values. It is also gradually growing as an independent scene. However the indie film industry will need a few more years to really develop.
For more information on Reshel Shah or to watch Black sheep visit http://www.moviesaints.com/#!/movie/black-sheep