CHINOY’S SECRET OF SUCCESS

Emanuel Sarfraz talks to celebrated documentary maker and journalist Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy about what motivates her to take up challenging projects.

CHINOY’S SECRET OF SUCCESS

3 Bahadur series has been very inspiring. Unfortunately it could be screened in only 50 cinemas. Is there any plan to increase its scope that it may reach target audience, which is young people especially in rural areas and small towns?

For the last two years we have a mobile cinema that goes from one town to another and to small villages across Pakistan to show our films. We have particularly focused  on Thar, KPK or remote areas of Balochistan.

Could you explain  the  structure  of your production team for 3 Bahadur… ?

The basic structure of the team is that I am the creative director. Kamran Khan is head of productions. Salman is our art director. Then we have teams of people for different tasks. We are in partnership with a number of musicians.

Many young people are interested in making short animation films. What is your advice for those who want to enter this field?

Animation is a difficult industry to get into because there are a lot of barriers. It is machine based and requires a lot of investment in servers. I would recommend joint teams to first see how the work is done. Only when they fully understand it they should venture on their own.

You have been showcasing real life heroes of Pakistan like the females working in anti-terrorist squad. How do you find these heroes?

We have a research team that finds these stories. Then we figure out how to engage these people and the best way to tell their story. Pakistan is full of ordinary heroes who need to become extraordinary.

As a journalist and activist what is your take on the current state of media industry? This is very important considering there are hundreds of students from different universities who want to enter media as journalists, anchors and people handling circulation and marketing?

The journalism across the globe is facing crisis. Newspapers are shutting down and TV channels are struggling  Traditional models of revenue have been jeopardized. Across the world there is rise of right wing governments who do not want to have critical analysis. They would rather imprison or abduct journalists. It is not easy being a journalist in the world of today.

You have studied in institutions like Stanford in USA. How do you compare the education there with the institutions here considering the fact that in recent years there has been mushroom growth in higher education sector?

I don’t think that quantity is important. It always is the quality.

Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy in the last eight years has worked on a lot of out of box ideas and came up with amazing results. She is an activist to the core of her heart. She has won two Academy Awards and six Emmy Awards. Time magazine named her among the 100 most influential people in the world. In an exclusive interview with Academia Magazine she talks about her projects and how she has managed to highlight issues. Following are excerpts of the interview:

Amna, Kamil and Saadi are now household names for children who have been watching full length animated feature film 3 Bahadur series. They are your babies who have grown up and matured. How do you feel?

The three characters have delighted the viewers and taken them on adventures. They have shown them how good triumphs over evil and taught them important lessons. The greatest thing for me is when people come to me and say thank you for making 3 Bahadur and thank you for making heroes. The writer Kamran Khan is person who put all of this together.

The education that you get in the premier institutions of UK and USA is very hard to find in the institutions of Pakistan. It has to do with the fact that that we do not have research grants for professors. We do not have tenures for professors at most universities. With so many universities coming up what really is the question as who are teaching there. Do we have  enough PhD qualified professors teaching at that university. Education and the way they teach is very important. There are some institutions in Pakistan that are doing well but you can count them in your hands. The rest of them do not have enough solid foundation to impart education.

Your stress has been a lot on women empowerment. We still have a long way to go but are we moving in the right direction?

We think we are going in the right direction. We take one step forward and steps backward. Young people want change. They are asking for their rights. They are

Look at the amount of work I have done in the last 12 months and the credit goes to me and my team. I am lucky that my work gets recognized struggling for their rights.

There is lot of push and pull factor that is taking place right now. I am hopeful that we will have many wins and less losses in the coming years. That means we have to continue to struggle. How can we rope in the new net generation in realizing the important issues at hand? We are a country that has limited resources. Our exports are falling. Our population is increasing. Millions of our young people have to struggle to find jobs. They have to struggle to making a living for themselves. We have to be more creative to survive. As a journalist what are your views about the content of packages being shown by our TV news channels? There are some very credible organizations and journalists in the country. We need provide proper education and training to new journalists. They have also to be taught journalism ethics. It is not the fault  of vast majority of people in news business. They have not been taught. Establishing linkages with institutions and people of different countries is important for a journalist and filmmaker like you. How can one build a good network? I work very hard. I make a lot of films  I am working on a lot of social justice issues. I am an activist and always am working on some issue. I have a new series called ‘Agahee’. It is creating awareness about domestic violence, interfaith harmony and women rights.

Look at the amount of work I have done in the last 12 months and the credit goes to me and my team. I am lucky that my work gets recognized. What  are  the  projects   in  pipeline? We are coming up with another animated film in summer this year. Then there is another animated film for children. We are coming up with five part international series, which has been filmed in Georgia and Pakistan. Sharmeen Obaid has achieved a lot in the last seven years of her life. After the interview she said she may write a book and find ways to help improve the education sector in Pakistan. Her entry into the education sector to create awareness about various challenging issues would be a welcome sign.

Emanuel Sarfraz is Managing Editor of Academia Magazine. He has over two decades of experience in journalism and has worked at top slots in different national and international newspapers. He can be reached at managing. editor@academiamag.com and on twitter @EmanuelSarfraz