THE FUTURE ASSASSIN
Yunus Shahul is a creative filmmaker, who steadily worked his way towards becoming a filmmaker from his childhood. Growing up in India, his fascination with films of every genre were endless, and his hopes of becoming a part of the industry began to blossom. But unfortunately, this was not accepted as a plausible career by his family and Yunus relented into joining a medical college to ensure his family’s happiness. When Yunus’s aspirations of becoming a filmmaker reached its peak during college, he garnered enough strength to drop out of college and travel to New York. He worked as a waiter in New York City for years to acquire enough savings to join and complete the New York Film Academy One Year filmmaking intensive program.
Yunus Shahul's film debut “Unrequited Love” was a high quality and low budget short action film. It deals with the tragedy of a bride violently raped and killed on her wedding day. Yunus Shahul's unique and unconventional portrayal of this subject, was admired by many and helped set in motion his next drama film “Denial”.
This emotional independent film, written and directed by Yunus Shahul, portrays a wife's emotional betrayal by her husband, not by another woman but by his own twin brother.
Yunus Shahul's latest film “Future Assassin” is a coming of age short comedy that takes place in the Midwest in the 1960's. It is a story of a young high school student, scorned by his first love, who attempts to take revenge on his ex-lover with the help of five zany strangers and time travel.
Yunus Shahul has received laurels form the Los Angeles Movie Awards as well as an award for best short film comedy from Artisan Festival international (World Cinema festival), for this extraordinary short and got the official selection At Action on International film festival in California, 2013.
Interview with Yunus Shahul regarding his latest film "Future Assassin"
Q: What was your overall role?
I was involved in “Future Assassin” project as an Executive Producer, Director, Writer and Casting.
Q: Did you always want to be in the film Industry?
Yes. I have always been fascinated with films since I was a little child in India. I never knew exactly what my role would be in filmmaking at that age, but I knew I wanted to be a part of the industry. I never dreamt at that time that I would be making films in the U.S which feels incredible.
Q: Tell us how Future Assassins evolved.
It began as a story about class, gender differences, politics and love amongst this backdrop. But it evolved into a movie that talked about these concepts in a more lighthearted way, trying to mix dramatic and comedic storytelling into a visual uniqueness by telling the story in the 1960’s.
Q: Did you have any unusual difficulties during filming?
Yes actually. One of my actors got injured in the middle of a take, and was sent to the hospital immediately. This affected the entire cast and crew including myself emotionally, and the challenge of continuing with the shoot and convincing the others to do their best in their respective roles is something I would never forget. Fortunately, The actor who was injured reported back to the set the next day with a very minor injury, and the enthusiasm that we began making the film with was back.
Q: Will winning awards help promote the film? How so?
I believe it does, because of the fact that it is being showcased around the world and audiences are not only watching the film but are really appreciating it. For me, it also is a boost for my own confidence that a project I believed in and worked so hard for is getting such a wonderful response, that I feel more confident about other stories I want to tell.
Q: How long did it take to make the film?
We did five months Pre production and shot for eight days. Postproduction took two months.
Q: Where were the locations?
We were shooting in a Town called Islip in Long Island, New York. In fact we used just one location for the entire project, consisting of the roads and forests in the area, as well as a historical museum.
Q: To what audience is Future Assassins suited?
I believe to every adult. I feel it’s a story that needs to be told in this day and age.
Q: What was it like working with the actors? How did you go about choosing them?
I chose the actors based on how they identified with the characters in the story and if they had that chemistry of being friends for a long period of time, with similar values and ideas about life.
For Ludo’s character, I needed someone who was not only great in his comic timing, but also who could express himself and his love in a very touching way to the audience, and I definitely think I found an excellent actor for this role. It was not only a great experience but also a very challenging one to work with these actors. It was the first time I was working with such a large cast, but fortunately the chemistry between the cast and the crew was excellent and It was a rewarding experience overall.
Q: What has the feedback been so far?
I have gotten great feedback for the film. Some people who have watched the film, said it felt like they were watching a feature film, others loved the fact that Future Assassin was just not a comedy, but included other dramatic elements to the film, particularly the love story. My favorite critique came from my professor who said that Future Assassin has three hours of content in just twenty-five minutes of film time.
Q: Are you working on any new projects?
Yes I am. I am working on two scripts based in the U.S. One is a historical drama, and the other is a thriller. I am also working on a script for the Indian industry, which is a suspenseful drama.
Q: Tell us about your own background. Where you were born? Where did you study film? What was your first movie? What was your previous job? Are you a full-time filmmaker?
I was born in a small village in south India, called Vandavasi. But I was brought up in Chennai, India. To pursue my dream of filmmaking I left India to come to New York to pursue a filmmaking course in the New York Film Academy. In order to save up for the tuition for school, I spent seven years working as a waiter in an Indian restaurant. The first film I had made was “unrequited love”, which is an action film dealing with issue of revengeful love.
Q: what was your first award? And how did you feel at that time?
My first award was for “Future Assassin” in Best Picture Comedy short at the Artisan festival international held in Cannes 2013. I felt like my dreams were coming true.
Q: What was the best part of the project?
My aim was to present a short film that not only told a great story but was also visually appealing. Although this story could be taken in any period of time, I have decided to set the story in the 1960’s to create great photography, amazing costumes and production design as well.
Q: What was the most challenging?
Was to achieve this 1960’s look and to make it apparent convincingly to the audience. I have to give lots of credit to my production designer and costume designer for helping me achieve this goal.
Q: Are you pleased with the overall outcome?
Yes, I am very much pleased with the results and outcome.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the film?
I just want the film to be enjoyed an accepted by audiences throughout the world, as well as having made a lasting impression on the audience.
Q: How long did it take to complete the film?
Total pre production was 5 months and numbers of shooting days were only 8 but for postproduction it took two months.
Q: Will you do a sequel?
Yes. The way I have ended “Future Assassin” leaves a lot of questions unanswered for the audience, which leaves a lot of room for these questions to be answered in a feature length film.
Q: What makes you a filmmaker?
I am a storyteller that wishes to bring life to my story and the characters involved. The only way I can do so is through film. Movies breathe life to my stories visually and emotionally.
Q: Why is this subject important to you?
I feel it is a subject that should be important to everyone. Love is an emotion that every human being feels, and no one should be discriminated against for whom they choose to love. I know I have faced discrimination in my life based on other issues, and I know how painful it could be. But something so innately human and pure as love should never be a cause for prejudice.
Q: Does this film send the message you intended?
I believe it does.
Q: Do most people just turn a blind eye when they hear of these issues?
Well I live in New York City, and here people are more progressive and accepting of homosexuality. But even throughout the U.S and countries all over the world, people are still being subjugated to mental and physical abuse over the gender of the person they chose to love.
Q: Why the title?
It’s an engaging title that relates to the sub-plot of the movie.
Q: Advice to others who might like to follow in your footsteps?
I’d like to tell them that making a film is a lot of hard work and emotionally tiring, but if you are ready for the challenge and have a burning desire to be part of the film industry like I did, every ounce of sweat is all worth it in the end.
Q: is there anything in the past happened to you, that make you wrote this script? If, yes, what is this?
No, nothing specifically happened to me to make me want to write this script. It is the people i am surrounded by everyday, friends, associates, that made me want to write this story.
Q: Is this a film that young people, college or high school students could benefit from?
Definitely. The earlier a person learns about acceptance and tolerance, there would be less hate based on pure ignorance. And less hate amongst humanity, will give us a more beautiful world to live in.
Q: Do you personally know anyone who inspires the movie?
There is no specific person. It is a combination of people I know and admire.
Q: Has the film won any other awards?
Yes, It has won the Best Picture Comedy Short at the Artisan Festival International Cannes world cinema initiative 2013. I received an official selection at the Action on International Film festival in Monrovia, California 2013, and I was given an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Movie awards 2013.
Q: Anything new to date on the film?
I am developing a feature film script for Future Assassin.
Q: Unique stories during the making of the film?
I think one of the most visually delightful stories was capturing the deer in the forest. It took a lot of patience and effort from our production designer to help the deer appear at the correct moment during the film.
Q: what sacrifices did you make to become a filmmaker?
I sacrificed a lot of time I could of spent with my family, by pursuing my dream in New York. I am thankful though that they were very supportive and are sharing my happiness with the film’s success.
Q: How do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
I see myself as a successful filmmaker, son, husband and father. I want to be a filmmaker who makes an impact with the stories that I tell not only emotionally but also visually. (tfr)
© The Film Reporter 2013-2015