|Associate Director of the Astrophysics Project Division, Mansoor “Moonie” Ahmed, was born and raised in Peshawar, Pakistan in the northwest frontier area on the border with Afghanistan. “There was a movie house across the street from us and that’s how I got hooked on movies. At the age of six, I wanted to grow up to be an usher so I could see all the films for free,” remembers Ahmed.
Ahmed picked up his first video camera when his kids were born and began making movies of his friends and family, including local performing arts organizations. He had no formal training in cinematography. “That’s how I honed my filmmaking skills and learned editing techniques. I just watched a lot of films and read a lot of books on video making and directing,” he explains.
Mansoor "Moonie" Ahmed in his editing suite. Credit: M. Ahmed
|› Larger image
The poster for Ahmed's movie entitled, "Bhool." Credit: M. Ahmed
|The result was a film called “Bhool,” which in Urdu, the language of Pakistan, means “An Error in Judgment.” Loosely based on an old Pakistani film, this version was modernized and focuses on women’s entitlement. “Everyone has an Achilles’ heel, a character flaw. This story is about a series of mistakes and misunderstandings stemming from everyone’s Achilles’ heel,” explains Ahmed. His cousin, an award-winning playwright living in Pakistan, wrote the screenplay. The actors were from the local performing arts groups Ahmed had been filming. “The leading lady had never acted before and she did the best job,” says Ahmed. “All of my family, including my wife and kids, and sisters-in-law, are extras in ‘Bhool.’ We all relied on friends and family to shoot.”|
The film took five years to complete. “We were amateurs. We all had regular jobs, so we’d work on this film evenings and weekends. We were all volunteers,” says Ahmed. Their sole investor spent about $50,000 on cameras, lights, sound equipment, and a computer editing system. “Plus, he fed us.”
“Every scene had its own challenges and interests. Also, I had to change the actors’ mindset from being on the stage and using big movements to being on film and using more subtle movements,” explains Ahmed. He found editing to be the most interesting part of filmmaking. “The editing process allows you to create several options for how to move the story forward. The intellectual challenge is figuring out which one will work best with the audience. A technical challenge is creating a smooth looking scene using pieces taken from multiple takes of the same scene shot from different angles and perspectives. There are various reasons a scene may not be shot in one take. It could be the actor