Bangladeshi filmmaker working in Marvel blockbusters

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After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production from the University of British Columbia, Wahid Ibn Reza applied to 84 different film studios looking for employment. They all rejected it. He was working in a call center on campus to make ends meet. He took his first break working as a production assistant for the Bardel animation studio.

“My friends in Canada suggested that animation / VFX studios hire a lot of people. So I put my hat on for the unpaid intern position that was quickly promoted to production assistant. production, I had to empty the garbage, load and unload the dishwasher, brew coffee and do other menial tasks, ”Wahid said.

But those days would soon be over.

Today, Wahid is one of the veteran VFX production directors working in Hollywood movies, currently working on “Spiderman: No Way Home” with blockbusters like “Game of Thrones”, “Batman v Superman”, “Captain America” : Civil War “,” Guardians of the Galaxy 2 ‘and many more in his CV.

Wahid is the director of a short film called “Surviving 71” (shooting). He is also working on another short film as a screenwriter for the 12-time Oscar winner from the National Film Board of Canada.

Wahid received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and then pursued a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film Production at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Interestingly, becoming a filmmaker was not Wahid’s childhood dream. He wanted to become an engineer.

“My uncle was an engineer and he sent me toy cars as gifts. As a four year old toddler it was a big deal for me. So I was told that I could get these cars if I became an engineer. “, remembers Wahid.

Ironically, his love for cinema blossomed during his time at BUET.

“I was a Mechanical Engineering student at BUET. In the second year, we made a short film for the cultural program. I was a screenwriter for the film. Back then, we didn’t have a digital camera. We only used handycams. To my surprise, everyone loved the movie. People practically sat on the floor to take a look at the series. It was an absolute scene. It was then that I decided to pursue filmmaking. “Wahid shared happily.

“When I arrived as a production assistant I was looking for an opportunity to show my talent. But my manager told me that it would take me until noon to finish all the tedious tasks he has me. entrusted and that I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. But I finished all the tasks at 10 am and kept asking for more. That’s when he asked for more. decided to give me a chance to work with the production team for ‘Rick and Morty.’ “

“Initially I was taught how to format the backgrounds needed to animate the show. They suggested I should be able to do at least 10-12 graphics per hour. I started doing 25 graphics. at 30! They were reasonably impressed and thought it was unwise to waste my talents on making coffees. “

He later received an offer to work as a production coordinator for the Dreamworks movie “Puss in Boots”, but he wanted to work on the second season of “Rick and Morty”.

Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Eventually, Wahid joined the Moving Picture Company as the visual effects coordinator for “Game of Thrones”. After that, he never looked back.

He then worked as a visual effects coordinator for several blockbusters such as “Furious 7”, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, “Captain America: Civil War”, “Doctor Strange”, etc.

Wahid pretended to be a comic book nerd. Naturally, he sought to work on comic book movies.

“As my mother was a lawyer, she would leave me with my grandmother when she went to work. My uncle had a large collection of comics. So, very young, I fell in love with comics.

“Before I even knew what America was, I grew to love Captain America. I used to run around with the bucket lid pretending it was my shield. So when I had the opportunity to work for ‘Captain America: Civil War’, that was an iconic feeling for me. “

Working for “Doctor Strange” and “Guardian of the Galaxy: Volume 02” was a whole different ball game for Wahid. Doctor Strange’s visuals strongly prioritized surreal experiences outside of the wizard’s body.

On the other hand, bringing CGI characters like Rocket and Groot to the big screen and making them realistic was a tough challenge.

He said, “I used to come to the office at 9 am and work until 2 am. It became so difficult that I had to rent a place in front of the studio just to sleep. But it was worth it when we got two consecutive Oscar nominations in the VFX category. “

Wahid claimed that the creative environment in Hollywood is very different from that in Bangladesh.

“Everything here is very structured and you have to be part of the system to advance in your career. The studio I work for is huge and it works on a whole new level. So you can’t compare. It’s relatively more easy to pursue independent projects in Bangladesh compared to Hollywood. Although some undertake independent projects, the ratio is quite low. ”

Another major difference with Wahid was the sheer volume of projects he was working on. As he said, “Our studio’s VFX team budget for ‘Batman v Superman’ was $ 42 million. All movies shot in Bangladesh combined in one year might not have a budget. also huge. It’s crazy. “

Wahid also found Hollywood to be more rewarding with hard work and persistence than Bangladesh where there are many obstacles that hinder personal development.

“When I was in Bangladesh I was fortunate enough to work with a lot of top filmmakers. Most people don’t have such opportunities. But there is a caveat. I wouldn’t call that is racism. But I had to work ten times harder than my native counterparts to prove my worth, to break the so-called “glass ceilings.”

Wahid also had some recommendations for the Bangladeshi film industry, especially in light of the introduction of several OTT platforms. He said these were encouraging signs given the deplorable state of content distribution in the country.

“I believe that one of the major issues with Bangladeshi content has to do with distribution. For example, I don’t know if people would be willing or able to watch Saad (Abdullah Mohammad Saad) (Rehana Maryam Noor) movie ) who went to Cannes this year.

I saw how Towkir Ahmed must have released his film on YouTube after it “failed” in theaters. Even commercial films suffer from poor distribution. So investors lose confidence and theaters are closed, ”Wahid said.

Wahid didn’t claim to have a solution, but he had certain expectations. As he said, “The distribution process should be made easier. The rise of OTT platforms is encouraging. At the same time, many multiplexes are also being built. But all these platforms should give the priority to Bangla content so that our creators – independent or commercial – at least have the opportunity to show their films to the public. ”

Wahid also recommended the development of film studios with well defined and structured roles which would improve the chaotic situation of the Bangladeshi film industry.

Wahid applauded the laudable efforts of courageous young directors, screenwriters and producers like Mabrur Rashid Bannah, Ashfaque Nipun, Adnan Al Rajeev, among others, who are trying to bring quality content to OTT platforms.

Finally, he shared his recommendations for future screenwriters and directors in Bangladesh. He argued that we had no more excuses not to pursue our dreams of filmmaking, especially with the remarkable development and accessibility of technology.

“Cell phone cameras are so good these days that you can shoot a movie with them. You can easily make animation with your personal computer. There are unlimited resources online. You can at least get the basic rights. Even if you don’t have a connection, just upload your content to YouTube. Also, remember that it’s important to keep watching quality content. It has come a long way. “


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