Interview with Filmmaker Nate Robards (THE ISMAILZAIS)

THE ISMAILZAIS was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the March 2022 Documentary Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

We were looking for a topic in the summer of 2021 right as the Taliban was taking over Kabul. We were reading about the tragedies in Afghanistan and hardships of child refugees coming to the U.S. every day in the news and knew that as students we wanted to connect the topic to education somehow.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We spent one week in Austin filming the family and other subjects from sun-up to sun-down for four days straight. After that, we spent 75+ hours in the edit room bringing the film to life.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Resilience, empathy

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Being able to adapt while filming. Our schedule the week of filming was constantly being moved around as we discovered new people/locations to film, so we really had to be flexible that week and ready to switch plans at a moment’s notice.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was gratifying. Other than our families, only our fellow classmates, teachers, and friends at Notre Dame have really seen the film so far, so seeing actual audience reactions was really cool.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

We were both inspired by family members who are filmmakers back in high school.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Unsure. I have been very satisfied with my experience.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

FilmFreeway has been great and very easy to use.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

We are both entering the workforce on the business side of the entertainment industry. One day, we hope to make it back to filmmaking but are hoping to save a little bit of money before doing so.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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