Interview with Filmmaker Chozy Aiyub (BEING X IN AMERICA)

BEING X IN AMERICA, 11min., USA, Drama
Directed by Malik J. Ali, Chozy Aiyub
Ahmad (Arab American) tries to help Chris (African American) in solving a complex equation of being in America.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Ever since I came to the US in 2001, I have dealt with some racism myself for being Middle Eastern, and I also noticed how Blacks can be treated in an unjust manner. So I figured I will try to find a way to connect both my experience and their experience somehow. Given all the events that have happened in 2020: the killing of a few innocent black people by the hands of a few untrained and prejudice cops, along with the Black Lives Matter movement (before it turned into an organization), I figured this would be a good time to tell this story since it is relatable.

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

I started talking to the director Malik J. Ali about this a couple of years ago, where he was supposed to play that role. The scene back then was only about 4 pages long. So me and him sat down and kept taking a stab at it until it became the full script. Then he suggested giving Cedric Cooper the role of the Black male, and as you saw, it worked out perfectly. We filmed this in two days, six hours each day. Pre-production was about 3 weeks to establish the shots, and get the crew together along with a few rehearsals for the actors.

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

American Prejudice

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

I think the hardest part was connecting the prison scene to the coffee shop scene at the end. I wanted to have an effect where the camera goes around both actors and speeds up then we see a blur, then it slows down to land in the coffee shop. Easier said than done. It was hard to achieve that so we ended up with what we did in the film which worked but I know it could have been a lot better if we were able to achieve what I had in my head.

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

I was excited and it gave me chills. Very powerful to see how people connected with the film, and all the observations and little things they noticed that I thought some might not notice. It definitely made me express a lot of gratitude.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I was in Malik’s basement one day where he started coaching and giving classes to a group of actors. I did a scene in class and it just inspired me to create a short scene. The scenes had nothing in common but for some reason I said to myself: I can do this. And so I did with the help of Malik.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Scarface. I love Al Pacino.

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

I would love to have the option of finding connections for both funding and distribution. After all, making these movies is coming all out of pocket and there is zero return of investment. So making some money from creating all these short films would be amazing. Finding someone that can see the vision and help with funding in hopes of making it a feature film is what I would love to do.

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

It has been great. What a website to help filmmakers submit their work and network.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Hummus and Falafel. Straight from Palestine.

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

I actually just finished filming my next short comedy film titled Ganja Hummus. So stay tuned.


By matthewtoffolo

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


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