Saturday, November 21, 2015

MEETING RUHI HAMID

Dear gorgeous person, you!


You may have seen this picture on my Facebook Page (Joy-De-Vivre) yesterday. As promised, here is all the goss (well, actually, some lol) from this all-female powerful meeting I was so lucky to be part of yesterday. Although there are only three ladies in the picture, my lovely agents Phyllida and Hilary from HK Management Ltd were also there but we took this picture right at the end, by which time Hils and Phylli had both left to attend another meeting. I was a little sad as I really wanted them to be in it. They both looked amazing as always but I was so excited to see them that I forgot to take pics! Next time :)


The meeting happened because Sim, Ruhi and I are working on a current project together. We met at Ponti's Italian Kitchen, one of my newest favourite places to eat. I love the vibe there. Staff are always extremely friendly and helpful and the food is absolutely lovely. At that time of the day too i.e 11:30hrs, it really was the perfect place to have an upbeat meeting, brainstorm and be creative, whilst losing the 'formality' in the atmosphere. Ponti's really is a hidden gem, right in the heart of Central London but without the fuss. We were there for a meeting for the first time last week and I just knew we had to come back. However, there's always too much creativity and passion flowing that in both meetings, we managed to get through lots of teas and pastries and on one occasion, a light lunch, that I literally feel I owe it to myself to go back there and have a really good meal! Luckily E works in Central and I'm always in and out of meetings around the area, so I'm sure that's not an unrealistic dream :) 


ENTER RUHI HAMID...

It's not everyday that you get to meet the people whose work you've followed for a long time and you have an immeasurable amount of admiration for. To me, Ruhi is just that. I first heard of her when she directed a BBC3 documentary presented by the beautiful Nelufar Hedayat, who I also admire and had the pleasure of bumping into a few weeks ago for the first time (first pic below). The documentary was called 'Women, Weddings, War and Me'. It was a fantastic story that followed young Nel's journey as she went back to her native Afghanistan to explore what her life would have been like if her mum did not move her family to England. 


A documentary so emotional and inspiring, I literally felt like I was with Nel, going through the entire journey with her... but even better, I felt like I WAS Nel. I can honestly say this is when my eyes were truly open to the real art of 'story telling'. In just one hour, I cried, laughed, got angry, got frustrated, felt sorry and happy for Nel and the people she met along the way. I felt like we had so much in common, despite being from two completely different parts of the world. We both had the same worries of neither fully fitting in back in our home countries nor here in England and both wanted answers to a lot of questions.  I wanted to be Nel's friend and literally exchange notes. I didn't appreciate it then but I have grown to know that these are the effects a good film director has on you, without you even realising you're on an emotional rollercoaster. 


As someone with a lot of interest in television, I have quickly learned about the importance of paying a lot of attention to the end credits... and it was at the end credits of Women, Weddings, War and Me that I saw the name 'Ruhi Hamid' for the first time, sitting proudly under 'Produced and Directed by'. I remember googling Ruhi for months after that and have closely followed her work since. One of the things I admire the most about her work is how she specialises in telling stories in various parts of the world where a western film-maker may not dare to go, let alone a female director but perhaps that's part of her charm and could be the secret to how she manages to tell stories so beautifully. Maybe the people she encounters admire her courage and skills, handling a camera and directing. Perhaps they are charmed by her presence and confidence, as opposed to the feeling off intimidation they might have if it were a man behind the camera. As you can see, Ruhi looks well at home behind that piece of impressive kit in the picture below. I LOVE her understanding of culture and people, her honesty yet sensitivity in handling the different layers of one story. I've seen so many of her films, I almost feel like I know what she might be thinking as the story unfolds. Every scene, every interview, every contributor means something. With Ruhi, the story is always complete. Gosh, I have so much to learn from her.


Ruhi has filmed all over the world since, including Return to Somalia - following Aliya - an American - born hip-hop manager as she travels back to her roots in war-torn Somalia. In more recent times, Ruhi has directed documentaries with Reggie Yates for BBC3 - Extreme South Africa - for which she became a finalist for the Rory Peck Sony Impact Award. Just last Friday on Channel 4, she also had a film on called Mexico's Baby Business. Her work takes her away for weeks at a time so I feel so lucky she's around at the moment, although not for long but just enough to make a taster for our film, which we've scheduled to shoot next week.

This woman has inspired me so much and I really could go on for daaaayyyssss describing what meeting Ruhi for the very first time meant to me but I honestly will fall flat on my face and fail woefully trying to put all these into words. I can only say that it meant the absolute world to me that she would even consider directing my original documentary idea and teaming up with Simone, My Sim, who I have held in such high regard since first meeting at a talk she gave at Channel 4, years and years ago - it doesn't get any better than this at all. In my eyes, it really is the dream team.


Luckily, I also have amazing agents on my side too - Phyllida and Hilary were all smiles throughout and were both very pleased with all that was happening and what direction the idea is now heading. Both are always quick to manage expectations and ground me by reminding me of things like how long it takes to get ideas off the ground and even when they have been green lit by broadcasters, it would most likely be two summers by the time they are on tv - why? because TV schedules WAY in advance! Frustrating huh? Yes but has definitely makes me appreciate the resilience of the people who work in telly a lot more. 

I feel so blessed, so lucky, so humbled and totally over the moon. I still have a long way to go and so much to learn but surrounding myself with amazing women like Simone and Ruhi, coupled with being in the hands of amazing agents, who always have my best interest at heart couldn't make me feel more safe. All I've got to do now is keep working hard as I have done for the last 8years! Yes, I know, it's been that long.

Apologies I haven't been particularly forth-coming with the ins and outs of what the actual documentary entails and what channel we are working with but as the good news keep coming, you will get to know so please do keep your fingers crossed for me. Happy Saturday! And don't forget to be back here tomorrow for my next video - 7pm :)

Lots of love,
J
xo xo 

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