Inside the Filmmaker’s Mind
Seeing a new world through award-winning Bahraini filmmaker and photographer Summer Ameen’s passion for life through the lens
For audiences to walk into a cinema, watch characters develop, and a story unfold before their eyes can bring about a wide range of feelings and emotions. They can be drawn towards one character or detest another, be completely invested in a storyline almost as if it a part of their own lives playing out before them or find themselves questioning the possibility of it all ever happening in real life. Some films strike a nerve with audiences, they hit too close to home; some are watched and enjoyed for their pure entertainment value. In all cases, the idea behind producing a film is to evoke different emotions through characters and their stories, various settings, and bringing everything together to create a full circle. It is not just the moving image that can evoke strong feelings in viewers, as photography can be just as effective of a medium to give rise to a spectrum of feelings – sometimes through a single image.
For filmmaker and photographer Summer Ameen, using both media proved to be not only a means for her to showcase mastery of her craft, but also a way to let people into a world she created, to let them experience a different perspective.
It was Summer Ameen’s childhood dream to make films – one she has since then worked diligently to achieve. Where young girls often play dress up with their friends, Summer would have her friends act in plays she would write and direct herself. She found great support from her father who would record her productions – memories she says she has kept to this day. “I was inspired by movies, specifically how they can transport the viewer into another world of the filmmaker’s creation”, Summer says. She started to explore the world of still life photography at the age of 16 when she got her first point-and-shoot camera and would capture moments around The Kingdom. Over time her interest in photography grew into a hobby and eventually turned into profession.
Pursuing her passion further, Summer received a First Class Honours distinction in her Bachelors degree in Filmmaking from Middlesex University in the UK, and trained at the London Film Academy as well as with top photographers from the US. She went on to start her career as a teacher of Filmmaking classes in Dubai, while simultaneously working on a variety of films and video production projects as a freelancer. After moving to Bahrain in 2009, Summer taught photography courses at Ahlia University, and during her free time she started to offer portrait photography after being inspired by taking pictures of her newborn son. Summer’s talent was such that word of her photography skills spread quickly around Bahrain, resulting in her part-time hobby becoming a full-time career.
With a Nikon as her weapon of choice, Summer has worked on various campaigns and projects on a corporate and private level, some of which include VIVA Bahrain, Al Zain Jewellery, Tamkeen, GIB Bank, SICO Investment Bank, Seef Properties, among working with many other restaurants, as well as recently working on the So French campaign that included her shooting an interview with celebrated shoe designer Christian Louboutin. “I believe the camera is only a tool and a relatively minor contributor to the quality of the work created; it is the artist’s vision and skill that put a unique stamp on their work”, Summer says, and it was that unique vision and eye for something extraordinary that earned four of her images awards at the Professional Photographers of America’s International Photographic Competitions. Two of her photographs were awarded Merits, which are recognition of excellence, whereas the other two were awarded the highest ranking in the Loan Collection category. They were exhibited in the United States and published in the Loan Collection book, which showcases the best of the competition winners. Summer was also honoured when one of her award-winning images was published in her favourite photography magazine, Professional Photographer Magazine.
It wasn’t just Summer’s incredible photography skills that earned her high honours in her career, but also her film directing on the short musical film Ayam Zaman in 2016, starring multi-talented musician Ibantuta and produced by Jeo Productions which earned her several accolades. The film is based on the lives of three strangers from different cultures that come together one night in a traditional Bahraini house in the heart of Muharraq, and as the story evolves the characters learn to find themselves, learn about cultural diversities, and are united by the power of music.
The exceptional film won awards for Best Female Director at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival in October 2016, Best Short Film at the Canadian Diversity Film Festival in November 2016, as well as picking up the award for Best Director in the Golden Prize category at the Red Carpet Film Festival in Bahrain (organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs).
It was Summer’s unwavering commitment to the art combined with her skills and passion that earned her work the awards. “I enjoy each of my projects, as I love how there’s a new element to every shoot. I am always meeting new people, photographing and creating films in different locations and on a variety of topics. You can say that change is a constant in my work and that is precisely what keeps it very interesting for me. I love learning and growing as a photographer, filmmaker and human being and I feel blessed that my work allows me to do so,” she says. Constantly exploring new aspects of the multimedia realm, Summer got the opportunity to experience curating for the art space Malja for their 2016 Photography Open Call and will be doing so once again in April 2017. Her own work was also exhibited at Malja, most recently as part of Malja’s CoLab: Words Are Blind exhibit, in which she was asked to take part by curators Weaam Sperink and Fatima Al Saad.
For the CoLab exhibition 12 writers were asked to submit a piece of writing on the theme of ‘Change’, and the written pieces were then given to 12 visual artists who had not seen the writing before and were asked to create art pieces inspired by it. The pairings were anonymous and random, and Summer received a poem that inspired her to create a short film or “visual poem” about facing crossroads in life, an experience, she says, many people can relate to. The film was displayed at Malja until the end of February and is also available on Summer’s Vimeo page.
“I believe in following your passion, and that’s what lead me to the career path that I am in today and which I am very thankful for”, Summer says and adds that she looks forward to expanding her video production services while continuing to photograph families and work on commercial projects. She will also begin offering workshops in photography and video production as she gets a lot of requests to do.
Looking forward to curating Malja’s second Open Call for photography, Summer’s work is of the nature that will never cease to amaze an audience. Her keenness for capturing life through the lens is undoubtedly evident through her award-winning work and the top quality creations she continues to put forward. Whether she is capturing still images or commandeering on a film set, it is safe to say that Summer Ameen is a multimedia guru!
For more information:
@summerameens & @summerweeksphoto
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