What does Arkansas need in the way of the arts? They need more individuals like Amman Abbasi who is chasing his passion, attempting to bring a project together in the form of film.
The 26-year-old, although born in New England, has lived in Arkansas most of his life and considers it home. He says, “I’ve always loved Arkansas, so even though I travel for projects, I try to keep a base here.” On top of that, he’s always loved storytelling, which led him to discover his passion for film.
His upcoming project will be his first to be Arkan-centric, and therefore the stakes are higher as he eagerly wants the film to come to life.
The project, titled LOUDMOUTH, is a narrative feature film focused on social acceptance. He explains, “The film follows a 13-year-old African American boy named Marcus who just doesn’t have many options in his impoverished neighborhood. He falls prey to gang appeal, and the film is truly a portrait of how kids can fall into that.” Less about gang violence, the film is about untangling who you are and who you want to be.
The filming is set for later this summer in Little Rock’s College Station neighborhood, and Abbasi and his team have already casted Marcus and several other roles. Before work can begin, though, the project needs some serious funding, in the tall order of $25,000 by July 4, which Abbasi admits, “is pretty ambitious.”
So why Arkansas, why Little Rock? Wouldn’t he have an easier time in Austin with this sort of thing?
Abbasi doesn’t think so. He says, “I would say Arkansas is very receptive to art, it’s just that we’ve not had enough exposure to different projects, yet. Arkansas doesn’t really have a competitive landscape among artists, there’s more of a comradery. That’s why I’d like to write here, and make a film here … I’d like to bring a little more exposure to it so hopefully we can create more opportunities for other filmmakers, artists, journalists, musicians – creatives in general.”
He just might be able to do it. Abbasi is not a new to film, early on he met the Renaud brothers and has since worked on projects with them. He was able to work his way up the ranks, learning a little bit about the separate processes that make a piece come together to get him where he is today. And, to anyone who questions his choice in career, he laughs.
“I always look at it like just like a job – you have to find work just like any other thing. You hustle and look for it and you don’t think of it like an art, so you go out there and make a living.”
The idea for LOUDMOUTH came to him in a rapid text conversation he was having with his brother. He had the backdrop of Chicago’s gang violence scene and broken education system in his mind, having recently worked there with the Renaud brothers on a documentary.
He’s hoping an interactive approach will help LOUDMOUTH come to fruition, namely, he wants the community to get involved and get excited about it.
He says, “We have a great band of allies on all fronts, but at the end of day filmmaking is an expensive trade. It’s not like writing or photography or music where you can just be fluid and do it at any second of the day. With film you need an army to make it, and with that, you need a good financial backing to make sure that it’s built correctly.” That’s why, he says, he’s asking for $25,000 from local supporters.
He’s also doing his best to collaborate with other local artists. Painter Lisa Krannichfield, for example, donated limited-edition watercolors to the Kickstarter campaign, which explains LOUDMOUTH in more detail.
Abbasi loves filmmaking, you can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice when he talks about his favorite process of the medium. “There’s so many variables in filmmaking. … filmmaking as a medium is quite different than writing or photography or music, it’s the synthesis of everything together. I love that crossroads.”
He wants LOUDMOUTH’s universal narrative of social acceptance to be given a chance to take the screen. If not, he fears, it will “get thrown back in the world of other incredibly great, quality projects that just don’t get made.”
If this strikes a chord with you, be on the lookout for a fundraising event late next week for LOUDMOUTH. You’ll have the opportunity to meet Abbasi and get further into why Arkansas, why film, and why LOUDMOUTH.