IFH 421

IFH 421: Drugs, Sex and Higher Love with Slamdance Winner Hasan Oswald


Right-click here to download the MP3

Today on the show we have Slamdance Grand Jury winning filmmaker Hasan Oswald. Hasan’s story is pretty inspiring. He did exactly what I preach all the time, he picked up a camera and began to tell his story. He made his first short film that was later tweeted by Stephen Fry, and National Geographic came calling to work on their film Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS. 

He has since covered the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, drug trafficking, and homelessness in Philadelphia. He quickly established a unique ability to capture the human experience through “cinema verité.”  His unfettered access to and intimacy with his characters creates a seamless veneer between the filmmaker and the subject.

After getting much need experience in the field he decided it was time to tell larger stories. His first outing as a feature film director, Higher Love, won him the top award at the Slamdance Film Festival. To finance his film he pulled a page out of Robert Rodriguez’s playbook and sold his blood plasma to finance his film.

Daryl Gant is a Camden native, father of eight, and a printing press operator. He was raised by a single mother and strives to be a better father than his own, who abandoned him at birth.

His girlfriend, Nani, is the love of his life but struggles to cope with a crippling crack and heroin addiction, and the nefarious lifestyle to support it. More troubling is that Nani is pregnant with their new baby boy, Darnez. It becomes Daryl’s newfound purpose to forge a better future for both of them.

Nani is also a Camden native, whose mother died with a needle in her arm. Now she struggles with the responsibilities of motherhood in the face of her own addiction. Daraz was born healthy but needs particular care growing up in an environment rife with safety and well-being concerns. Their friend, Iman, was once a drug dealing kingpin in Camden in the 1990s.

He was also a father and a mechanical engineer until he caught a dealer’s habit of selling dope. He embodies the spirit of many disaffected residents of Camden, taking the viewer on a tour of post-industrial American decay. His own quest for sobriety will eventually force the hand of Nani to make a change, as they forge parallel paths to recovery.

Hasan’s filmmaking journey is inspiring to say the least. He is using cinema to tell stories that will hopefully change the way people think. Higher Love is available on all major VOD platforms. His current project focuses on the Yazidi Genocide in Iraq.

Enjoy my conversation with Hasan Oswald.


Alex Ferrari 2:03
Now guys, today on the show, we have filmmaker Hasan Oswald and Hasan won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's slam dance film festival with his first feature film higher love. Now Hasan story is extremely inspirational, because he took a page out of Robert Rodriguez book Rebel Without a crew and sold his plasma to help finance his film. It is a very touching and gut wrenching film. So in this episode Hasan and I talk about how he made his film all the journeys and craziness that happened while he was making his film, what it was like to win the slamdance Film Festival and get the Grand Jury Prize there. And how the industry reacted to him winning that festival and how it helped him get his film out into the world. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Hasan Oswald. I'd like to welcome the show Hasan Oswald, I thank you so much for being on the show, brother.

Hasan Oswald 3:11
Of course. Alex, longtime fan. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:13
Oh, man, thank you for being on the show. And you are the first filmmaker that I am interviewing from not only the other side of the world, but you can you tell the audience where you're at right now, sir.

Hasan Oswald 3:25
Sure. I'm in northern Iraq, the Kurdish region of Iraq,

Alex Ferrari 3:29

Hasan Oswald 3:30
Yeah vacationing, it's really beautiful this time of year 105 at sunrise, its peak. It's awesome. Now I'm working. I'm working on my next project. And I've been working on and on and off for the last year and it came back in February for what was supposed to be a three week wrap trip and going on for months with really no end in sight is all the airports are shut all the boards are shot. So yeah, that's what I'm calling from.

Alex Ferrari 3:56
Like you're basically trapped in a hotel Baghdad, if you you can check it you could check in but you just can't check out.

Hasan Oswald 4:04
You can't check out.

Alex Ferrari 4:06
So before we get to your movie, it's your movie. How did you enter the business man?

Hasan Oswald 4:11
Um, how I got in. So I actually I my film background is very vague. I'm definitely a new face in the business. I I went to something I don't know if you've heard it's a Waldorf school. It's kind of like Montessori based. Yeah. So I went to Waldorf School in upstate New York just outside the city actually. And you actually you do not have to watch movies, no media. So my whole childhood I watched very few movies. We didn't have a TV in our house. And when we finally got one I remember I used to when my parents were out I used to watch TV and then I put an ice pack on the TV because they would come home and feel it to see if I've been watching TV so that's that's how little exposure I had to movies. So I wasn't This movie buff who, you know, had a camera, his dad's camera and learn how to edit on to VCR. That wasn't me. I remember I was I was rad to watch one movie a month. And we just go to this video store giant video that was before like Hollywood video, Mom and Pop around little place. And every time I go in there with these big ideas, I'm gonna watch this new movie. and nine times out of 10 I'd come home with Waterworld. And I have no idea why but Waterworld was my was my go to and I just absolutely loved it. And I still I still love it. So I didn't have any kind of a background in film, I would go to Costco and had all the TVs lined up and my mom would go shopping and I'd get my TV in there. And I was so it was really a precious, precious finite resource for me. So I didn't have that background. And after I went to school at Villanova, I studied creative. I was an English major, but studied creative writing and had some journalism, journalism minor or concentration. And so I always had a interest in storytelling. I wrote a good bit of novel novella, short story, that kind of stuff ever any screenwriting, but as always fascinated with storytelling. And when I graduated, I had no idea what I was going to do. I applied and was accepted to work on a cattle ranch in Australia, they still have these, you can still be a cowboy in Australia, million cattle ranches. And then my visa got messed up. So kind of on a whim, I moved to Thailand to become an English teacher. I just had no idea what I wanted to do. And there goes here's our watch time so I had no idea

Alex Ferrari 6:51
So for people for people listening he since he's in Iraq, there are power sword surges or outages every every Yeah, so every few minutes, but everything is on a on a journey. So we won't lose his connection. But if you're watching, he will go Blair Witch.

Hasan Oswald 7:07
Exactly. So only my fingers is lit off about every 15 minutes. So yes, so in Thailand, I went to be an English teacher. So I wanted to do this kind of European gap year, I spent a lot of time abroad as a child. And I wanted to kind of gap here and find out when I was doing really film I still film was not a big part of my life. I you know, I love and love, love actually like till then I was certainly not watching. Certainly not watching old classics. If it's in the theater, if it was

Alex Ferrari 7:48
You know, sitting there watching like Kurosawa and Scorsese,

Hasan Oswald 7:52
Who. So we, as a teacher in Thailand, we would take a lot of trips. And I mean, it was just, it was incredible life. We live there, and we had a GoPro. And so we would film everything. And this is right about the time where you could get 1080 on I got an Android. So really in your pocket, you had a bunch of good resources for pretty cheap. And so all my friends had these GoPros and cameras, and so we take trips, weekend trips to Vietnam, bus trips to LAO, and we just gather material and then at the end, we were like, Alright, what are we gonna do with this? And so I was like, Alright, I think I can do this on iMovie I can do something. So I remember I laid a track down it was Moby play, which is got to be the most overused

Alex Ferrari 8:45
Oh, Most sampled album in history.

Hasan Oswald 8:51
Yes. And it was glorious. So it was that, uh, that paradise song from the beach?

Alex Ferrari 8:57
Yeah, I know. It's in my head right now. I don't have the rights to it. And I can't play it on the show. But I have it in my head, sir.

Hasan Oswald 9:02
Yeah. So the beach, the film The beach with Leo. That was the soundtrack. That's why we used it. And I remember I remember cutting to the music and loving it. Like I thought this is really cool. I mean, it was trash put it I mean, trash, but I really liked it. It was we were creating something. Um, so we were just doing that on the side and teaching I still had no I had given up drip my journalism routes as well. I was throwing through an English teacher. I had I felt I was teaching second grade, seventh grade and I fell in love with my class. So I thought I got it. I applied and got accepted to Columbia to do my Master's in education. I was going to come back to New York City and become an English teacher and that was my career. About a year and a half in. We were set to renew, renew, renew our contracts and instead My friends and I, we quit, or didn't renew our contracts and just traveled throughout the region. We tried to go by train from Southeast Asia, all the way to Europe. So there's trains all the way up. And then we took the Trans Siberian cross, and we recorded the whole thing. When I got back to Europe, I had a bunch of new footage. And I added, I, we called it or I called it 1818 countries in 18 minutes, and there's an 18 minute video that went on Vimeo, and it made the front page or a front page, I think the travel of the front page of Reddit 10,000 views I think, which was just I can't imagine, I still can't imagine why 20 people watched it. And it's still one of my favorite things I've ever created. It was the first thing I ever created. And just the feedback from that. And the kind of the creative process that went into it. I just I fell in love with, I guess then editing. And I still had no idea how to shoot, but because I taught myself editing through YouTube tutorials. Just books. I, I could edit, I just couldn't shoot at all, but I knew I could teach myself to shoot. And of course, that's when I found Rebel Without a crew. And I thought, oh, wow, like this, this can be done. And of course, it was stupid travel videos. But those travel videos turned into kind of my education. And so I didn't go home. When I got to Europe, and do my Master's in education. I stayed in Barcelona and started doing these freelance gigs. totally fake it till you make it. I remember I connected. I remember I went to different hospitals. And I'm still teaching part time at an international school in Barcelona at this time to kind of make ends meet. But I remember I went to a hospital. And I said, Oh, I make these promo videos. Can I do one for you? Because each hospital in Barcelona, I've got a party night. And I don't know. So they said, Sure. Just send over your reel. I was like, My what? So I remember doing my first kind of Franken cut off Rip Cut off of different people's videos on YouTube. I mean, it was that will never see the light of day again. And then so and then I did another kind of similar thing to with my friend had an apartment complex used to rent to students and I remember pulling my camera on a string across a marble countertop. Yeah, my Pan Pan shot. So that was kind of the the the genesis of of how I got into film and

Alex Ferrari 12:50
That's awesome. Yeah, no, that's a really that's, that's I always loved hearing these stories, because everyone has a different path in and obviously you found your path and kind of Miranda around literally continents, trying to figure find this out. So let's get to your film, hire love. Tell me about hire love and how it came about?

Hasan Oswald 13:12
Sure. So I guess just kind of a brief synopsis. It follows a man named Daryl Gant in Camden, New Jersey. Darrell is a factory man from Camden. And he his long term girlfriend, Nani are ginetta. She is a heroin addict on the streets of Camden. And how she pays for that habit through various while she lives and works in the streets. And she becomes pregnant. And so the first half of the film follows his obstacles his journey well to every morning, he leaves she she leaves the house runs away to Camden. And it's his journey to find her over two years. And then once the baby is born, a different journey begins. So it's on the surface. It's this, this search for the love of his life. And he as he tries to protect his unborn baby. But it's also each obstacle that Dale faces it. It's kind of a obstacle that a lot of these cities face. It's not just Camden. It's you know, Flint, Michigan, Cleveland, these post industrial cities that the American Dream is kind of crashed and burned in. So that's kind of what the movie is about. And it it came about kind of in an interesting way. So if we backtrack a little bit, I still was doing travel films. But they were kind of turning into a more more interview based we're doing. I remember getting darker and the people were filming these travel films for we're like, we don't want to listen to the Sri Lankan lady about losing our family and the tsunami of cheese like we we will Yeah, we want to we want to live. We want Wanna hear about the best beaches in Sri Lanka? So already the disconnect was beginning. So at the end of filming that travel show, it was my now ex girlfriend and I, we both, both things were coming to an end. So it was time to do something different. And so at the end of that travel show, I went to Lesbos, Greece, where the refugee, so that's where the Syrian refugees were, they kept drowning in the Mediterranean, doing that crossing into Europe and their raft. And so I went there with more skills than I had and better cameras, but still very new. And this was kind of my first documentary. And I made, I joined a rescue squad. They're the ones who pull the rafts and the people from the from the ocean. So I joined a rescue squad bear and did a 15 minute short, and came back, edit it myself, colored it myself, figured out that color was the thing. So yeah. And I thought, Alright, here we go. Like I have a 15 minute Doc, this is good. I don't know, 700 views. Maybe? It was it was that was gonna be my big ticket. And I'm living. I'm out of money. I don't know if this film thing's gonna be, you know, if this is my way,

Alex Ferrari 16:29
Right. But then Jesus, I had to go to do a very not uplifting documentary in the streets of Camden.

Hasan Oswald 16:37
Right. So well, how that came around was maybe a month after this film's public, the refugee film was published. Stephen Fry tweets it. And then a few more, Neil Gaiman. guimond is the author of a few bigger names, tweets, tweet it. And then I get, you know, 100,000 views under this amazing one, 1000 views. And from that, so National Geographic saw that saw a tweet. And they call me and I'm living in Boulder at the time with my with my girlfriend. And they so gold crest films was contracted by natgeo. So they're making a film for natgeo. And the director and Nick quested and Sebastian, younger, they call me and are the existing calls me and says, Hey, can you come do the Can you, the director would like to meet you? And so I'm thinking, Oh, great. This is an interview. So I get up, packed up. And then right before I leave, I email them. I say, hey, just making sure we're on for tomorrow and interviews in New York. So we're on for tomorrow, no response. So I'm like, Alright, I gotta go. So I just fly to New York on miles, get out of the airport, go to the interview, go to the interview spot. And I'm just thinking, like, I don't think I have an interview. And so I go, and like five minutes before they respond to my email. They're like, Yeah, he's still planning on me meeting you. And from there, within a week, we hit it off. And within a week, it was my first kind of film job ever. I had $10,000, taped to my chest, heading across Turkey meeting with smugglers. I'm with the director. He's teaching me all these things, all these cameras. And so this is my first documentary, real documentary experience. And I just, I fell in love with it. And I came back and I continued working for them, and learned a lot of great stuff. But after about a year, it was time to move on. And that's where I knew that I wanted the whole time, I knew that I would. Eventually, if I was going to fail, I'm gonna fail big. So I knew I wanted to direct and my father's from Camden, New Jersey, where higher load takes place. Got it. It was I had no budget, I'd son save some savings. For my time with the natgeo film campaigns, only a two hour drive from New York. Because my family my dad's family is all from now they all still live in the surrounding area. So I knew that all I was gonna have to pay for with gas money. I had a strong enough backing and editing and filming and producing that, well, I didn't have a choice. I had to wear all the hats. But I knew that I could make this movie and Camden kind of had this. Throughout my life or just from my dad's background there, I've kind of had this morbid curiosity with that city and cities like it, as you mentioned, like the post industrial decline the empty factories. It's America's most dangerous city or one of them for the last decade. So I thought, you know, this is a story that needs to be told.

Alex Ferrari 19:38
Now. So what was the budget of this film? If you'd want me asking?

Hasan Oswald 19:43
The budget was less than zero.

Alex Ferrari 19:45

Hasan Oswald 19:46
To start. It was a it was I, I knew that a camera and a dream, basically a camera and a dream. So I knew I was gonna have to do everything to start at least before I could kind of To show people that, that this was a project worth investing in, this was a project worth joining. So I had some savings, as I mentioned, but I would so there are still expenses, this food, although my uncle was amazing with that he's an associate producer on it on the film. He took great care of me, but there's still food, there's still gas, there's still, that's a lot of stuff that go into it. And so to make ends meet, there is a lot of tricks that I used to start, I knew right away, I could sell my blood. So I've sold my blood plasma, twice a week. 50 bucks a pop. And that was more than enough to make ends meet to get going. And then and then I need a drone. And then I needed another lens, zoom lens, and then I needed other things. So we would it's it's not a lot of blood, but it's it's a lot of fun out there. We're out of blood, the blood, literally the bank.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
Literally suck the blood out of you.

Hasan Oswald 21:10
Out of it. Yes. So the next step was I figured out that and I had nothing to edit for I made the mistake of filming and it turned out fine. But I couldn't edit 4k on my laptop. So I needed a new laptop. So what I would do was, this is frowned upon, but I would go to Apple and I buy their best system. And then I edit for 30 days straight 29 days straight and then I'd return on the system. Because there was no restocking fee, there was no anything. Right. And so that's how I was doing the Edit. And then I was the next 30 days when I didn't have an editing system and I didn't want the local Apple Store to become wary. I would shoot that whole time the next month so what I would do

Alex Ferrari 21:52
3030 on 3030 off

Hasan Oswald 21:55
and then the next 30 on was for lenses do the same thing for lenses camera body steady cams at Best Buy a 29 day rental for free. So that's how I was that I had an amazing kit. I had you know top of the line stuff rented and I know you know i it skirts the bounds of efficacy but

Alex Ferrari 22:18
You know I look. Sometimes you've got to as a as as the as the the glorious Axel Foley once said, Sometimes you've got a fracture and occasional law. And you don't break it. It's just kind of bend it a bit and look you are working with in those guidelines. Look, when you're starting out, you do what you got to do to make it happen. You're not the first person I've ever heard that the Best Buy deal. I'm sure people listening now they're like, wait a minute, you could do what a Best Buy. I'm like, Yes, you can go to Best Buy, buy the best camera you want and use it for 30 days. I did not think about Don't drop it. Yeah, don't drop it. Don't scuff it. It's got to be it's got to be pristine, because they will check. But if you're good, you've got a hell of a kit. I never thought about Apple because I've never there was no Apple computers when I was coming up anyway, like that. They there was no Apple stores, let's say. So that's interesting. So that you would edit and what did you edit in just out of here? I'd like Final Cut or veggie?

Hasan Oswald 23:23
Yeah, so I learned I learned in Thailand on iMovie. And then I taught myself Final Cut, Final Cut 10 and then quickly moved into premiere because I remember I was back in the studio one day and they were like, what are you using Final Cut? I was like, Yeah, what am I using Final Cut? I have no I still don't know what I prefer. What's better, but now? Yeah, we did the whole editing in Premiere.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
Okay. that's, that's amazing. So, so you would you would edit one month that go shoot footage for another month, then go back and buy another laptop and edit for the next 30 days. How long did you keep this up?

Hasan Oswald 24:01
Yeah, cool. And we used to use different credit cards. We used to use like I borrow my mom's credit card and then Venmo her the money and then she went she'd get the money return on our account and then we use my uncle's credit. It was it was bad. So I mean, I probably did that on and off for about eight months. Oh, that's amazing. So probably four rentals from each rental area.

Alex Ferrari 24:29
I'd like to rent us I love that I love that you've now just automatically just called it a rental even though it is absolutely not a rental but yes

Hasan Oswald 24:38
yes. zero budget rental

Alex Ferrari 24:41
Cheeses. No, I mean look like I said sometimes you got to do what you got to do to make it happen and and it's it worked. It worked. Yeah. Did you did you keep any of it ever or is it all gone?

Hasan Oswald 24:55
No. So I mean, we we eventually kept once we brought on a little Money we kept stuff that I'm still using. And but it also I mean, it really caught I think having zero, that zero budget kind of made the movie what it was. We were going to there are other we would go to. If you go to eBay, eBay, YouTube, you can learn how to make a $1 $2 rig with pvc piping. Oh yeah. And so we learned all that stuff too. We would buy all our stuff aftermarket on eBay, it would take you know, four weeks to get there from from China, we could never have anything that we really needed. But um, so we use those tricks also. And then yeah, once we found out kind of our go to kit essentials, we kept those. I got a laptop that can handle 4k. And so while we were coming up, we were, you know, playing with some ethical boundaries, but we eventually got on the straight and narrow and did it the right way.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
Look, I mean, I'm assuming you know who Werner Herzog is? Of course, yeah. Okay. So Warner, you heard that story of him with the with the papers. Yeah, with 4g. He literally forged his papers to get when the police came to wherever he was shooting, he forged papers proving that he was able to shoot there. You do what you got to do. You know, as long as you're not hurting anybody or literally stealing, literally stealing. Yeah, you do what you gotta do?

Hasan Oswald 26:33
Yeah, and we did a lot of that stuff, too. I mean, Werner vanner was one of my original inspiration. So yeah, we copied a lot of that stuff with just fake it to make it and if they're gonna assume something going into a shoot, you know, I guess I didn't tell them I was with HBO. But if they're gonna call me the HBO boys, I didn't say it. Someone else said it. So like, we we faked it till we made it with a lot of those tricks.

Alex Ferrari 26:57
Did you? Did you have an HBO shirt answer? Is that, that HBO hat that you bought it? At the souvenir shop in downtown Manhattan?

Hasan Oswald 27:10
Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 27:14
Look, look. I mean, look, I could tell you stories and stuff I did. And when I was coming up, I mean, I don't think I've told this story on this show before but when I my first edit reel was based off of raw footage that I got, from an OS from a European group of filmmakers that came into my commercial house that I was in Miami, and I grabbed all their footage and I re edited distance was insane, like million dollar budget footage, re edited, it all slept the Nike Nike logo at the end of it. And I cut together five or six reels, and then I quit. And I went out with that reel. And people were like, they assumed that I was that guy. When they asked I would go No, no, no, that's just a speck spot. But if they didn't ask, there you go. Yes. Exactly. You know, it's, if you assume that's up to you, you know, it's like I was asked for forgiveness, not for permission. Yes, shoot, shoot birth. escalator. Yes. As my entire my entire last film was Sunday. Yes, exactly. Exactly. Alright, so alright, so you've sold plasma? Or you have you have skirt the line of the return policies over at Apple and Best Buy for eight months? And and then you've gotten you finally got some money together? And then how did you remember you saying to me that you kind of mariachi camp done a little bit in the sense that you became very well known in the area? Can you tell us a little bit about how you kind of started having almost free rein in that in that town?

Hasan Oswald 28:49
Yeah, so I think having no money helped us in a bunch of ways. Like, for example, I mentioned that we didn't have, I didn't have a zoom lens, I was filming everything with a fixed lens. And so there are some really great shots where we wouldn't have gotten and I had this incredible access to my characters and out because I had to be I was a foot away from them. And it lends this kind of like raw, this pure Verity almost, that I wouldn't have gotten if I could afford a zoom lens, I had to go in without a foot of all my characters. And I think that kind of was the case. In one way or another with a lot of these things. I didn't have a producer, I didn't have anybody. So I had to go to Camden, which is, you know, it's one of the most dangerous cities in America. And I was terrified and I had to go knock on doors and meet these characters where they were. So I would go you know, I'd start out I'd go to town meetings and kind of find out who the town leaders were and the different advocacy groups and then I would branch out to I would go knock on the door. Have were known drug houses, but I would be with one of those town advocates. So they would kind of give me an ounce of credibility.

Alex Ferrari 30:10
It's like Donnie Brasco. They were Donnie Brasco when you like he's a good guy. Yeah, it's fine. He's a good guy. Exactly. he's a he's a real guy. He's a CSV, okay. csv. Okay.

Hasan Oswald 30:19
Yeah, trust him. So, they, I mean, they really appreciated that. Camden, it's been a drive by a guest to drive by city, but also a drive past city, a flyover city, one of the first titles for our film, actually, for a long time, it was titled below the brine. It's, it's after a Thai poem by Walt Whitman, who's actually from Camden. And it's about this world that exists below the brine below the surface of the ocean that nobody ever sees. But there's life down there. There's heartbreak down there. It's society down there. And that's Camden. They, you know, they build the retaining wall in the highway, so you can't see into it. No one goes into this place, no one talks to these people and learns their story. So when I was knocking on doors, just because I had to, I didn't have a producer. They really appreciated that. And so the guy was nice.

Alex Ferrari 31:13
I'd like how did you how did you? Because I mean, from watching portions of the film, like ye they're doing not only illegal things that you end, but they're allowing you to come in film this. Some of it's extremely personal. And yeah, I mean, there's there's characters who are high on screen, there are characters who are pregnant and high. And there's, there's so many, like, how did you get them to agree to do this? Like, what, what was in it for them for them to be able to allow such access to their lives?

Hasan Oswald 31:47
Yeah, and, yeah, a portion of why they did that always comes down to an aspect of they will, people want to be on TV, you know, the second a camera turns on, no matter what anyone says, it changes the dynamic, however, I think because I where I went and met them where they were talked to them first. And really, I didn't just come in for a weekend and film a bunch of people shooting up. I knew them became really entrenched in their lives. Night after night, day after day. They respected that I wanted to and this is how I approached it, I wanted to tell their story, the story of Camden, the story of this opioid epidemic, I want them to tell it, so I wanted to see it through their eyes. And they right away, kind of, we're open to that. And one of the first scenes in the motel where our pregnant character is injecting was my first kind of realization of what trust and what access they had given me. And that carried for the next year and a half. And after that motel scene, I received a very angry phone call from who turned out to be the protagonist of the film, Darrell, about filming with his pregnant drug addicted wife, long term girlfriend and was very angry said meet me the next day, I thought, why the film's over, maybe my life is over. And he basically just he pulled up, he said, Listen, let me tell you my side of the story. And so that's where we learned his side of the story. Every morning, he wakes up goes to search for Nani who's trying to save his unborn child. And so when he said, let me tell you my side of the story, I think that's why I was so embraced by cam tonight. because nobody's given these cities a seven second look, no one. No one, no one ever stops to say, oh, you're living on the streets, in in on heroin highway, as they call it, in America's most dangerous and one of America's most dangerous cities. You know, how did you get here? What What went wrong? Why people think, you know, who in the right mind says, I want to give up everything, lose my kids, my house, my car. I want to give that all up and live in a gutter for 1510 years. If I'm lucky, no one stopped to ask the question of how they got there. They just treat them you know, as animals almost. And so that trust was kind of achieved right from the beginning of me even coming into their doorstep. And then they just gave me the permission almost to give the means the agency to tell their own story.

Alex Ferrari 34:36
That's That's fascinating. You're right, these stories are a little too few and far between. and, and a lot of the stuff that's going on right now, back here in the states that you have been safely in Iraq avoiding which is Corona and and what's going on with the death of George Floyd. I think that's one of the reasons why these There is such uprising here now is because, yeah, it's because of stories like this that that these these people have have been handicapped from the moment they were, you know, they were evicted from their womb, their mother's womb. Yes. Yeah, you know, there's no doubt about it. And these stories are so, so important. And that's why it's so much more beautiful on the way how you did it. Which, like, if you told me like, yeah, we have like two 300,000, we had an Alexa. We shot with cook lenses, we had a full rig, it wouldn't have you can't make this movie like, you need to. You need to go to Best Buy an apple and do what you did. It goes to the whole story. Now. Now, this is your first feature, right? This was your first feature?

Hasan Oswald 35:46
Yeah, it's my first feature. It's only the second. My only my second credit. So I worked on that National Geographic film. So I was really, I'm still of course learning everything as I go. But that was my film school. That that a year, year and a half in Camden. That was my film school, you'll see. I mean, if you look at our Instagram, you'll see some funny things of a first time director. But also, there's so many stories of I had no idea what was what I was doing at the beginning, especially, you'll notice things in the film, if you watch it with a close eye that I can point out after you watch it. It's a first time filmmaker it but we did do an amazing, they did an amazing job of saving a lot in post and it looks incredible. But there's some funny things that I learned the hard way.

Alex Ferrari 36:33
But did you but the question is, did you wear a director hat or a director t shirt?

Hasan Oswald 36:38
No, I just carried the chair around. And you know that like that, that gift where the guy just unfold the chair and sits at a director's chair.

Alex Ferrari 36:49
I I always make a joke because when when I was first coming up, I had the director hat and a director t shirt on because that's what a just a pompous film student would do. So anytime I see a director walk on set with a director shirt on, I'm like, Oh, god, oh, god, oh, no, this is not going well, this is not going to go well. And every single time has ever happened. I've never I've never been disappointed. So you you submit your films to all these film festivals, right? And not only did you get into slam dance, but you also got some interest from South buy of this of this last year. So can you tell me what happened between slam dance and south by? And then how did it actually? How did it all workout?

Hasan Oswald 37:35
Sure. So we we really, I'm not the only young filmmaker on this team. It's really an inexperienced team of four people probably still is, which I love. And now we're actually really good. So we really didn't really even know what we're doing going to festival season either. So we got into slam dance. That was our first. Well, first we got rejected by Sundance, obviously. I mean, we all fantastic. Yes, exactly. It was our first you know, welcome to the Welcome to the show. And then we got into slam by which we were really blown away. And for those, we were unfamiliar, I was unfamiliar, but it happens the same exact week, the same time as Sundance. So actually, if you say it fast enough. Oh, yeah. Honestly, a lot of people think so we post on social media and a lot of my university friends. They just assume I once Sundance and there's no I'm not gonna correct them

Alex Ferrari 38:42
Again HBO HBO guys. HBO

Hasan Oswald 38:45
HBO guys. Yeah, we're HBO guys who won Sundance. So we got into slam dance. And it was just it was an incredible, incredible week. But we had Sunday slamdance deadline to accept was right around the same time that South by was their deadline was for their notification deadline was and in our minds, my mind at least I would lean toward not anymore, of course, but I was going to lean toward our premiere at South by just has the big name. And just as a first time filmmaker, I just was going by the name. So there was disagreement within the group. Eventually we decided we're going to premiere at slam dance. We ended up not getting in to south by so we're at these parties and everything and we're retelling the story and how we chose to premiere at slam dance and it turned out that through various programmers, I guess and I'm not 100% sure on this but um the rumors on the street, the rumors on the street. The rumors are street that South by does not take kindly to slamdance Especially if you're wanting to choose between the two. And we had gotten kind of a cryptic email from south by that before we got the rejection email, and so they knew we were choosing between the two. And we chose slam dance and didn't end up being accepted to south by, which turned out so we won grand jury at slam dance so amazing, the best, the best choice. And then a week after we come home COVID hits and south by is the first one to go. So it really was the right the right decision. They are all worked out in the end.

Alex Ferrari 40:39
Now what was your What was your Sunday slash slam dance? Park City experience like because you were you were like Fresh Off the Boat. This is your first movie you've never been it is your first film festival if I'm not mistaken, right? Like,

Hasan Oswald 40:55
I didn't even I couldn't even I wasn't exactly sure what I knew what a film festival was. Obviously, I thought of it more as like a market. And then my only background is the entourage episode, which I watch. You know, again, right before I left, right and I'm so I'm a director. I'm going to a major film festival. I'm picturing a lot of entourage stuff. And there was a lot of entourage stuff. I mean, we already is amazing parties. Yeah, we had a great PR team that hooked us up. We went to like the cinetic party. We went to the HBO HBO party of course,

Alex Ferrari 41:32
obviously because you the HBO guys.

Hasan Oswald 41:35
So we had a great time there was you know, the hot tubs the late nights, it was amazing. But then there was also the side. So that was the entourage side. And then your film comes to mind at the corner of ego and desire. So these, For those unfamiliar, you shouldn't be it's a great movie, go watch it. But it's three young filmmakers go to Sundance to try to pitch their film, and everything kind of falls apart. And so we had a lot of those moments. We, you know, we just first time everything, and I didn't, and I just didn't know anything. So there was a lot of mistakes made. You know, what's a sales agent? You need one, we went in very, very excited. But I'm excited in green. So it was a brilliant mix of the entourage episode and and your day in your film.

Alex Ferrari 42:27
No. And I mean, I've been there. As you know, I've been at slam and Sundance many, many times over the years. And slam dance is an experience. And I love slam dance. As you can see, I have my I represent this lambdin shirt all the time I do. I do love them. I always found myself even though I was rejected from slam dance, and I'll call them out all the time because Dan, co owner, co founder was in it. And I still got ridin Yeah. But to be fair, I think I said the word Sundance like 50,000 times in the movie, so they probably didn't want to promote slam dance. Like we were talking about that earlier. Like, you know, maybe I would have just said slam dance slam dance, slam dance. Oh, they would have accepted it in a heartbeat. But of course we always go for the for the girl that doesn't want us. Yes. The hot girl that teases us constantly. That is that's the relationship with 99.9% of every filmmaker ever.

Hasan Oswald 43:26
And then we keep saying that. So southpaw was the hot girl that didn't want us and then it got canceled. So every time we don't get one, we're like well that hot girl is about to go down cuz it's gonna get canceled and it keeps happening.

Alex Ferrari 43:37
Yeah, God knows what's gonna happen in the future. I you know, I'm still in the in the camp of I don't think Sundance is going to happen in 2021 in the same way, I can't you know, I can't even imagine it happening. But we'll see. But you once you say you won southpaw. Excuse me, you, you you excuse that you want slam dance. You want the jury, the Grand Jury Prize is slammed. So that's a big, that's a big deal. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Hasan Oswald 44:14
We were just it was really just a dream. It was. I still I'll never forget when they call her name like it was. I mean, I blacked out just from the adrenaline. I'm not even sure what I ran up there. I'll never look at what what that acceptance speech was. Yeah, I'll tell you the Alex was not good. It was it was fine. It was bad. But um, it was Yeah, it was just it was a dream come true. When that and then we so that was our first festival. It's the you know, the first festival, one of the first festivals of the year. And so from that we got waiver waivers to maybe everywhere and can't It was so strange being contacted to show your film. So we just We just this weekend we did our European premiere at Krakow in Poland, which is an amazing festival. Yeah, and we're, I think one or if not the only North American film, selected for competition. And it was online, which was a new experience. But that was right off of we actually got the news about Krakow right after the grand jury win. And then also, we were accepted this past week. Sorry, we were in this past week in Brooklyn, where we won best new director and Spirit Award for, for Documentary Feature loss. And so that grand jury win, just, yeah, that snowball into everything. And we have a bunch of festivals coming up, that are either going to go online and be canceled.

Alex Ferrari 45:47
So I want I want to clear exactly who knows what's gonna happen. So I want to I want to be real clear. So I want to bring this and you've been listening to my podcast now for a while, and everyone who's listening automatically, but he won slam dance, like he won the Grand Jury Prize it slammed and so that so when the when the trucks of money came? Did they just did they unload by the pallet? Or did it just dump it all on your front yard? How does that work? They just they delivered it in their hands, a little bit at a little, little by little, just like a little 14, the 14 quarters, the fourth thing called the 40 quarters that they gave me, I want I want people to just understand that just because you win the Grand Jury Prize at a major festival like slam dance, it does not mean that you automatically get checks. It's not 1994 anymore.

Hasan Oswald 46:38
No. And we have that kind of a lotto ticket dream. And I will stick by that it is important to have a dream. But also, it's also important, and I'm so happy I I didn't have any money. So I actually had to build up technical skills. Sure, along the way, while maintaining that lotto ticket dream. So yeah, when we when we won grand jury, I thought, you know, here comes HBO again, again, comes up, here comes the big deal, like Netflix is calling flicks. And we did yeah, and we got all those calls, and it's a lot less money than you would think, a lot less money to any deal any offer that you would think there's no truckloads of money coming. And we found that out pretty quickly. However, I will say that it not only did it open up doors for other festivals, which is really, really important for a young team, such as ours. And I know festivals, I learned this the hard way festivals, you know, they don't, we can win a Grand Jury. And still, that's not going to move the needle on a higher even when three grand juries it's not gonna move the needle on a higher, it doesn't make sense, like people like your movie, but it's not gonna move the needle on your, your your distribution deal. So festivals really aren't going to do much for that. We found that out. But it really did. These festivals are great for myself and the team. Even so I'm in Iraq filming now. And we have some really big names attached to this film. This is the my second film directing. And that's all from, I'd say 90%. From these festival wins. Yeah, it lends credibility. So know that we're not, we're gonna be lucky in all honesty right now to break even even though our budget was so so we kept it so low. And down the road, hopefully, we're turning it we're working on a narrative version as well. So hopefully that will drive interest that way as well. But it it pays off in ways such as now I'm over here filming, as I like to call it my real directorial debut since I actually know what I'm doing now. I couldn't have done that. I couldn't have patched these names to it. Without without that grand jury win.

Alex Ferrari 49:04
Yeah. And that's, that's the thing. filmmakers need to understand that the film festivals, especially if you're a new filmmaker, oh, my film festivals are the best. Like, yeah, you got to go into the red carpet into the parties and meet other plumbers. It's amazing. It's wonderful. Take, you know, go to those seminars, go to those workshops, you know, meet people network, it's great for all the obviously that's been put on hold right now for the next foreseeable future. Because of COVID. But when it comes back, it's still a wonderful experience to go through. But I am just constantly beating my audience over the head that it is not 1994 anymore. This is not what it was. They don't have the same kind of poll as it did before. So but they do have a place in the ecosystem without question, and I would have killed to go through your experience like I've never gone through that experience. Like I've been to hundreds of festivals, and won awards and all that kind of stuff, but I've never won a Grand Jury Prize at slam das nor have ever been yet at slam dads are accepted into slam dance. But that's amazing, dude, that's an amazing story. And I'm glad that that you did it the way you did it and you're trying to get the story told and get it out there. And it's not over yet the story's still continuing, you still got to figure out how you're gonna make money back with this what type of distribution deal you're going to finally land on. If you're going to self distribute, there's a lot of different avenues you can go down.

Hasan Oswald 50:24
Yep. So yeah, definitely, it's, yeah, it's exciting. It's still very exciting. And mistakes will still will be made. But at least there is gonna be we have more people on the team who know what they're doing a sales agent, good PR, good, good. Everything. So mistakes will be made. And it's it's still a learning curve. But um, yeah, it was definitely a great experience.

Alex Ferrari 50:47
Awesome, man. I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all the guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today? Obviously go to Best Buy an apple and do your trick. But besides that?

Hasan Oswald 50:59
Yeah, um, so I guess for advice for someone who did it like myself with no zero film background besides. Waterworld. And

Alex Ferrari 51:12
By the way, it's like a side note. I did have the screenwriter of Waterworld on the show. But we never he did on a documentary. I had never talked to him about Waterworld once, but I found out later a failure is a complete failure I have to get I have to get him back a paragraph to get Peter back on just to talk about Waterworld. But yes, I found out later after I interviewed him, because we were just focused on his documentary that I did. But yes, so Waterworld is like your godfather. It's kind of like your Star Wars

Hasan Oswald 51:39
It is my godfather. Yes. So I guess advice for a real real new. I was an English teacher. So I had my my baseline was zero. So for someone and you can right now is a brand new filmmaker. I mean, you can buy amazing 4k, you know, five year or a seven s, you know you can get those bodies for how to use for 1000 right now, even if you don't want to do the return trick. You can film 4k amazing 4k in your cell phone as everyone knows. So

Alex Ferrari 52:14
Look like a Panasonic G gh four, I can get that usually, for under 50 bucks.

Hasan Oswald 52:20
Yep, yep. And then you can also learn how to you can learn everything I'm so not only did I learn the three different editing software's just on YouTube, but still, when I have a problem, you know, I was trying to figure out how to pin a graphic in, in Premiere the other day. And I just googled those words how to pin data in in Premiere, and there's 50 tutorials how to do it. So really, all the resources are right there, the gear for the first time is available. So if you're a brand new filmmaker, just kind of do it, I did just get a camera and go do it. Now keep your expensive expenses low. So choose a story. I really want to tell a story that, you know, really, really moves them. But meat meat in the middle do one that you care about, but it's also doable. So I you know, I stayed with family I could drive to and from Camden. So yeah, I would say just kind of go do it. And there is this kind of I don't know how to say it not. There's a hierarchy in film. And a lot of the older generation, especially if you get into these editing houses that have been around for a while. They're going to want you to pay reduce. And I ran into that a lot. I was told after I guess two months that I had to pay my dues before and I quote I was allowed to sit at the big boys table who said this like this was the job I was working I won't say names but basically you're getting to you're getting way ahead of your paygrade with your I was bringing story ideas. I was I wanted to really go go go and I was in my in. In reality I was you know assistant to the assistant to the assistant editor coffee, coffee getter. So I was basically told to go and I had skills I had I really knew what I was doing. So I was told and I quote you're not you can't hit the big boys table yet. So I've kind of carried that with me forever. I think that this pay your dues thing is nonsense. I think you can go do it you if you can. If you don't have that stuff $1,000 at $500 to get the camera go do that.

Alex Ferrari 55:03
So your plasma

Hasan Oswald 55:05
About your blood plasma, if you really want to learn, you can learn on YouTube. So there's kind of not that many excuses why you can't go do it.

Alex Ferrari 55:14
And I want to just add something to that. And that's excellent. I agree that there is the old system of you have to pay your dues in order to play that game. If you want to play that game, you've got to pay your dues, if you want to play in those in the in other people's sandboxes. Yeah, but then what you did is you still paid your dues, but you paid your dues in your own sandbox, and creating it on your own project and learning along the way yourself. So you no matter what you're going to have to pay your dues one way shape or form. But I would much rather learn it in my own world that I control. And I have all the power in and it's my own Big Boy table. Then playing in someone else's sandbox at the beginning.

Hasan Oswald 55:56
Yeah, and I read a great quote, quote, somewhere it said, film scores, sorry, film school has never been more expensive. And film gear, film gear has never been cheaper. So use that. And the reason these these kind of pay your dues hierarchies are starting to shake is because anyone can kind of go out and make a film right now. I just went out and made a film. So I understand that they kind of want to hold on to this, this control they have but as you said, Go play in your own sandbox and make that sandbox something. And you can be the big boys table after not not much. Not that much time.

Alex Ferrari 56:37
I mean, you won. You won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance with your very first film, sir. So I mean, that's if that's not the big boy table. I know. There's I know, there's guys and gals who've been working 1520 years. I've never gotten that opportunity. So yeah, there's something to be said about that. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Hasan Oswald 57:00
Oh, yeah, I guess. I'm still definitely definitely learning, especially during this lockdown. There is a lot of time to do a lot of stuff. You don't waste that time. I so when I was wrapping up my time at this post house, I knew I wanted to go and direct something. But also the same time, I was, you know, physically addicted to every app on my phone. I went out three times a week in Manhattan. I just wasted time I was buried and things that weren't going to benefit victory my head. And I realized I realized that and so I moved out of my Harlem apartment, Airbnb it, because somehow you can make a lot of money doing that move back in with my parents. And I remember the first few times, and this is at age. So I'm 31 now. So I guess two, three years ago, I was too old to be living back with my parents. But I knew that I had to fund I had to save up a little money to go do this when I eventually left the post house. So and I remember when guests would come over family friends, I'd you know, not come out because I was so embarrassed to be back at home. But I kind of retreated from everything I gave up. I gave up actually alcohol and partying for a year. I deleted all the apps on my phone. barely ever use my phone. And that might not sound like a lot. But you'll be surprised if we look at that screen time thing how much time you waste. So, I had so much time to dedicate toward screenwriting books, every movie that I missed out of watching because I wasn't allowed to have a TV and I can now watch them with a critical eye. And I could I mean, I just learn podcasts like yours all the no film school type websites, I just absorb everything, everything everything. And within not too long. I had enough skills to head to Camden. So I guess I'm still learning it and this this lockdown is made it extra issue is even more magnified because there just is so much time on my hands lockdown in Iraq.

Alex Ferrari 59:29
That's the name of your next move locked down in Iraq.

Hasan Oswald 59:32
Yeah, so I guess the lesson is that there is enough time to make this happen. Whatever that dream that end goal is for you. There is enough time in the day to make that happen. There are going to be some sacrifices but if you're as long as you're not wasting time, there is time to get this stuff done.

Alex Ferrari 59:51
Now And last question, what are the three favorite films of all time besides Waterworld, obviously is one so

Hasan Oswald 59:59
Whoo. Yeah. Waterworlds? One a and one B? Let's see three favorite movies of all time. Okay. There's a Swedish movie called let the right one in.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:12
Yes. Great Movie movie. Yes. Oh, it is. Absolutely.

Hasan Oswald 1:00:17
I don't like vampire movies. I don't like horror. Do not watch the trailer if you want to watch this movie, because you'll never you'll never turn it on. The trailer is nothing like the movie. But yeah, let the right one is definitely top three. And also don't watch the American version. It's good but not nearly as good as the Swedish version. Let's see the lives of others. The German film a fantastic film district nine that really I love the idea so I love documentary obviously but I'm actually starting to move in to narrative. I mentioned I wrote a screenplay for IRA love. And that's moving forward and so I really love the idea of mockumentary bridging the gap between what's what's narrative what's documentary and so yet district nine is definitely definitely up there for me and I guess a close close fourth you will never really hear is great I just saw that with with Phoenix really dark film Yeah, so that's a that's a top four your top three

Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
and I forgot one other question. I have to ask you who is your such a Waterworld fan? Have you been to the Waterworld ride at Universal?

Hasan Oswald 1:01:38
No. And I actually was this is gonna sound I remember when I was talking about Don't waste time and you'll have a lot of time I was wasting a lot of time the other day and was researching Waterworld cuz I mean, it's actually you know, it's it deserves a laugh or two at its expense. But there's a lot of people who really do deep dives on the internet about this. Oh, don't

Alex Ferrari 1:01:59
don't question no question. I mean, just let's be clear, real quick about Waterworld and I this is a topic I have to talk about. In all of my episodes. I've never Waterworld has never come up. But But Waterworld is honestly Yes, it you absolutely can laugh at it. There's definitely things you can laugh about it without question. But it was a fairly successful film. It is done. It did really actually did well, box office wise. It launched two rides at both universal parks. It has a lot of merge that it's sold. Like quietly it's it's not cats. Let's just put it that way. It's not as bad as like cats. You know, it's or anything like that. It's it's not showgirls, because showgirls is a perfect film, obviously. But yeah. But so people might make fun of it. But it's not as you know, it's not as a color. It's not as bad as the postman. Now, if you watch the postman, that is a horrendous piece of film.

Hasan Oswald 1:03:05
Right and it certainly Waterworld certainly did well, at my local videos, rentals. Oh, yes. rented like crazy. And also, I mean, I think everyone carries this kind of, for example, I don't think six months ago a year I would be on a podcast admitting to a loving Waterworld, or, I guess, basically, I think everyone carries this kind of imposter syndrome. That they feel like they don't belong. And I certainly felt and feel to an extent that I don't belong. And I think it's natural for all humans that way, but especially in the film industry, especially in artistic endeavors. And so while we're laughing about Waterworld, I don't think I would have talked about it. That I love that I would have made up something you know, to make me sound like I knew what I was talking about. I don't

Alex Ferrari 1:04:00
Seven Samurai Seven Samurai, taxi driver,

Hasan Oswald 1:04:05
Taxi driver. This you know, these black and white? Casa Blanca, I just know, I would have gone that route. Because I think this imposter syndrome is is really real and it still is really real for me. But I think that no one really everyone's got it. You just got to kind of remember that. You got to remember that not only in this kind of gorilla indie filmmaking, especially documentary filmmaking where, you know, I really didn't belong. So I guess. Now I belong a little more than that. But um,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:42
Like, at the end of the day, we all have that imposter syndrome. I think we all have it on a certain level different levels of it. I mean, I even you know, speaking to some of these big giant directors and writers, they have it you know, and they have billion dollar movies behind them and they still have it. So it's it's an all of us. But I think as you get older, you start becoming a little more comfortable in your skin. So I have no problem saying that the room is a fantastic film and I would watch it not by myself ever, but with a group of people that show girls is great. Again, not but I could probably watch your girls by itself because it's it's it's it transcends how good it is. There's a new documentary out about it. By the way. I don't know if you know that. There's a showgirls documentary. They just broke down. What showgirls is, and I'm like, I still haven't seen cats, but I'm actually dying to watch it. Because when something is that bad, it will eventually transcendence. Yes, that's a morbid curiosity. The same reason I went to Canada. Well, cats in Canada, we can't connect those two. I don't know how we connect those two. But you haven't. So you haven't gone to the Waterworld ride yet?

Hasan Oswald 1:05:59
No. So yes, I have not gone to the Waterworld ride yet. And I actually just assumed what I was saying I was doing a deep dive. And before that, I just assumed why would that still be open? Oh, it's it's still open? Yes. So that's definitely on the on the bucket list.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:16
I saw in LA and I saw it at Florida when I was in Orlando back in the day as well. So it's still there. It's actually a fantastic show. I have to say it's a fantastic show you I think you will enjoy it even more than most. Definitely for sure. And then where can people find you find about more about higher love and what your other projects gonna be?

Hasan Oswald 1:06:39
Yeah, sure. So um, I guess the best way to find so for hire love, that's a feature documentary. It's higher love film, Instagram, and then higher love film.com. We post all of our screenings, we have a bunch of festivals coming up. The next six months, at least a bunch of festivals that will be online, which actually makes it more accessible for a lot of viewers around the world. So yeah, higher love film, the website and the Instagram. And then if you just go to the Instagram, you can under the info that you can find me under the director Hassan Oh, that's my Instagram handle. And then for the film I'm working on now, that'll be it's just briefly it follows a certain sect of the Iraqi population is easy. It's an ancient religion. And they're still after. So ISIS was brutal to everyone in the region in 2000, during their their reign of terror, around 2014. But I'm especially brutal to these, this sect of Yeezys. And they took three to 6000 of them as slaves and two to 3000 of those are still missing. And in ISIS, ISIS captivity and no one's really doing anything. So I've been bedded with a group of rescuers and smugglers trying to get those those mostly women and children back. And because of the sensitivity of the material, we cannot as of yet but anything social media wise, but we are we are approaching that that point where we can so we'll definitely if you follow the other page, the higher love page or my personal Instagram, which I'd love. I'd love to I love connecting with fellow filmmakers, especially members of the tribe, I'd love to start dialogues on my personal Instagram page. So yeah, we'll update that with my current project. As well,

Alex Ferrari 1:08:45
Hasan man, it has been an adventure talking to you. It's been a very inspiring story. I love hearing these kind of stories, man, I really really do because anytime I hear someone hustling and hustling without any understanding of what they were doing, it's even better and that you at the end of that it wasn't a disaster and you actually created a fantastic film is a rarity. So what you have done is no small feat my friend seriously so congratulations all your success and and that stay safe in Iraq until you get back here because here in the states were much safer than it is in Iraq. Obviously. We're we're good and COVID there are no riots. That's all fake news. Don't worry.

Hasan Oswald 1:09:31
Right. I'll bide my time to get back. Don't worry. And also Alex, I wanted to thank you not only for having me on but just what you do is incredible. I don't think I don't know. I don't know if I'm here without your podcast and seen in 2015 which is the same time I came onto the scene. And you know, this is great, great resources out there of which you know, you're you're one of the best. So I'm proud to call myself one of the tribe and I don't think this this hustle would have happened without a indie hustle.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:02
Thank you. I truly appreciate that. And I'll pay you later for that. So thank you.

Hasan Oswald 1:10:08
Alright, sounds good Alex.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:10
I want to thank Hasan for coming on the show and just sharing his story on his new film, hire love, and hopefully inspiring a few members of the tribe out there to go out and make their own film. Now if you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/421 and there you'll be able to access how to watch and where to watch higher love, I highly, highly recommend you check it out. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that also going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.



  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)


Free Training of The Week


How to Produce a Profitable Low Budget Feature Film

By Suzanne Lyons

Join veteran producer Suzanne Lyons as she shows you the three key secrets to produce a successful and profitable independent film.