Filming Injustice, Fighting Discrimination
By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
It was the marriage equality ruling in June of 2015 coupled with reports of businesses discriminating against gay people by refusing services that gave Badar the idea to make a film based on this kind of discrimination. Peach talked to the Pakistani-American filmmaker about his short film Last Lesson, available to stream on revry.tv.
How did you get started making films?
I knew I wanted to be part of the film industry since I was six. I took theatre in high school, but as an actor, I knew I would be limited with the roles I wanted to play because no one was writing roles for South Asian talent. I chose to attend Savannah College of Art and Design and study film. I worked as camera operator at a TV station for a few years and eventually left to pursue entry-level opportunities in Atlanta’s film industry which has been booming over the last few years. I have been fortunate to have worked on some amazing productions. I took this knowledge and experience with me and applied it to my own films.
What is the film about?
Last Lesson is a drama and tells the story of a piano instructor named Carmen, and her struggling student Jacob. When Jacob’s mother find’s out Carmen is a lesbian, she loses her job. At its core, Last Lesson is a reflection on society and how the power of influence can affect us in our lives. It is also about bringing awareness to job discrimination against members of the LGBT communities.
How do you see your role as an Atlanta filmmaker?
Currently, I am the only Pakistani-American filmmaker in Atlanta’s independent film scene. I think that frightens a lot of people, given all the negative news reports on TV. However, the life and experiences I’ve had so far give me a unique perspective on the world, and this is reflected in my work. I have a lot to say and choose film as my medium to express myself. I am in a position where I can use my talents to entertain an audience, while also bringing attention to causes like LGBTQ+ rights.
Tell us about the collaboration with Revry?
Revry is an LGBTQ digital streaming service platform. Due to the success of Last Lesson at film festivals (including Atlanta’s Out On Film), and the positive social media reaction, Revry reached out to me and requested a screener to watch the film. They liked it and offered me the chance for Last Lesson to be included among the short films category of their streaming service. After a few discussions, I was honored to sign with them.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I am currently writing my first feature script. It will focus on Indian-Pakistani communities living in Atlanta. A group which is a growing part of the city, but also extremely underrepresented and ignored in American cinema. Besides my own personal project, I will continue to freelance as an art department assistant and contribute my skills to local productions.
What has been the most surprising thing you have learned from your journey?
Regarding Last Lesson, I surprised myself as to how far I came with this project. This was a very difficult film to make and took me a year to complete. There were moments when obstacles got in the way of the film even happening. However, I was bound and determined to tell this story. Networking allowed me to meet the right people who genuinely wanted to help and be a part of Last Lesson. We had a successful screening at Out On Film Festival and won Best Local Short Drama at Atlanta Underground Film Festival 2017. This is an accomplishment which I am truly grateful for. My work was appreciated, and this confirms I need to keep moving forward in my goals and never stop.
Follow Badar on IG and Twitter @badaratl, and on facebook.com/badarofficialpage. Also, check out Last Lesson – and many more LGBTQ-themed films, docs, and shorts – at revry.tv.