In 2009, Nabil Nona decided to study acting and filmmaking and felt it was one the best decision he had ever made. A year later he wrote, acted in, produced and directed his first short film. Since then he has been producing and directing other shorts, TV commercials, music videos and TV shows. His goal is to keep creating and making meaningful films or shows that entertain the audience but also make them think after watching the film.
Nabil, who’s on the Board of Unique Voices in Films, is a producer and director known for Nightmare (2011), The Summoner and Consequences (2017). Born in Iraq in 1971, he was as a child infatuated with American cartoons, movies, and TV shows. He learned English by listening to American dialogue and reading subtitles in Arabic. Nabil immigrated to the United States in 1994 where he found himself going to theaters to watch the latest movies, analyzing every performance by the actors, cinematographers, and directors. He would wait for the movie to come on DVD to watch it again but with the added bonus of behind-the-scenes footage where it explains how the movie was made and how the actors performed under whatever conditions and still gave their best.
I interviewed Nabil on my TV show (watch the youtube video) and here he tells us a little about himself.
Was there a particular event or time that you recognized you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Since I was a child, I was always interested in films especially how they were made. I would always look for extra footage of the film and see how the director made the film. In 2009 I studied acting, and after that I became more interested in making a film even more than being an actor in a film.
How did you start in film and what keeps you going?
In 2010 I made my very first short film. I wrote, acted, directed and produced a 2 minute slow motion scene followed by a 5 minute second scene 2 weeks later. It was a great experience and from that I decided to explore doing more shorts then music videos and TV commercials.
What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your work?
I realized that team work is the most important aspect in making a film project. You cannot do everything on your own no matter how talented you are and you will always need the help of other talented people to complete your film project.
Making a film requires a team. How did you discover your team and how do you keep the relationship with them?
When working on different projects, I meant many talented people in the film industry and I formed a solid relationship based on mutual respect. I stay connected with them and would love to work with them on future projects, hopefully.
How do you nurture your filmmaking skills and talents?
I keep myself informed and I try to learn from other filmmakers. I try new things even if I fail at times but I keep trying until something great comes out.
What makes a film great for you?
The story, the performance execution of the cast, the well-directed scenes, and the editing process which includes music and sound design.
What films have been most inspiring and influential to you and why?
The Devil’s Advocate, The Matrix, Good Fellas, The Exorcist, Inception, The Dark Knight, Sleepers, Fight Club, The Mask, Reign of Fire, 300, The Hangover, and many more.
How did your love for movies start and what can be done to help others discover similar pleasure and appreciation for film?
Since my early childhood, I would watch movies on TV. I was fascinated by all of it and I would be hungry for more films to watch, however, I didn’t have the resources we have today. Creative people love movies, because movies are the interpretation of our imagination, and in movies we see that imagination comes to life. The more we imagine the better chance we have into making it into a movie.
What failures have you been able to learn from? How did they change you and your process?
Making a film project without having a budget is extremely difficult, but the good part you learn how to be creative and use whatever resources you can use that are not money.
What is the most important advice you can give a filmmaker starting out?
Do small but completed projects, even if you have the budget for your project, do not start with big long projects where you may not be able to complete or execute them the right way. Start small and bigger as you go, because whether you make a 5 minute film or a 2 hour film, the way you tell your story through the movie is what matters, not the length of the film.