Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Interview Yasmin Shiraz

My interview with author, activist, and filmmaker Yasmin Shiraz:

Will: Who is Yasmin Shiraz? Why activism? Why choose the arts to make a

Yasmin: People have said that I’m a visionary, young people say I inspire them, but my kids call me mom. Deep down inside, I’m a writer that believes that my gift is to bring my words to the people. I’m an activist because I’m a passionate writer. There is no issue, no subject that I write about that I’m not passionate enough to go and do something about. I chose the arts because music, words, expression—they all move people. Life is too serious not to be moved.

Will: You started out as an author. You’ve written 6 books. What got you into filmmaking?

Yasmin: I actually got started as a magazine publisher. Shout out to all the 4 million Mad Rhythms readers. But, yes, I’m a writer and I wanted to see my screenplays on the big screen. So, I started Still Eye Rise Pictures so that I could put my words on the big screen. I was tired of waiting on someone to discover me when my fans had already discovered me.

Will: Where did you study film?

Yasmin: I have my master’s degree in Sociology. I studied sociology at Hampton University and Morehead State University. If you see my film work, you’ll see that I put social issues on film. I was taught about what the important issues are and how to analyze such issues. My body of work will always showcase the most important social issues of the day. I’m not a filmmaker in the traditional sense, I’m a filmmaker in the sociological sense. However, I have taken several film classes to learn the technical aspects of filmmaking—a master’s workshop that I took with John Singleton changed the way I looked at being a Film Director.

Will: Have you shot in digital video? If so, what do you like better about it
than film?

Yasmin: I’ve shot digital video and am looking forward to shooting on The Red camera. I like digital because it costs MUCH LESS than film. Shooting on film is beautiful but the digital cameras are beginning to meet film on look. Many old school filmmakers now believe that The Red camera exceeds film quality.

Will: What is your sort of cinematic signature? What do you want to say with
your films?

Yasmin: My cinematic signature will always be to intertwine hard topics in with an entertaining piece. I like to keep it compelling and passionate. I also like to share the voice of young people as I’ve done with my books. I believe we can learn so much through coming of age stories.

Will: What do you have planned next? Where can people see your movies?

Yasmin: I’m currently promoting my new film, They Call Me Dae which exposes the life of a teen bully. They Call Me Dae will be screening at film festivals throughout the US—and perhaps, internationally through 2011. My debut film, Can She Be Saved? is available on I travel with Can She Be Saved? I hold screenings at middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout the US. Still Eye Rise Pictures has other projects in various stages of pre-production. Please check for updates.

Will: What advice do you have for people interested in becoming a filmmaker?

Yasmin: People who want to be filmmakers should watch a lot of films, should attend film festivals, should take classes on filmmaking and should decide what kinds of movies that they are moved by. Filmmakers should be willing to become writers. The beginning of any great film is a great story. Story starts with writing.

Check out the trailer to Yasmin's latest film - They Call Me Dae:

Yasmin Shiraz is an award winning Filmmaker, an award winning WebTV Producer and an award winning Author. Shiraz is also a highly sought after radio & TV youth expert appearing on FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS news affiliates nationwide. Ebony, Essence, CosmoGirl! and Teen People magazines have featured reviews of Shiraz’s Blueprint books and/or have asked her to contribute to advice articles for teens. Find Yasmin on Twitter here.

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