Cost-of-Living Adaptation: Idriss Assoumanou, filmmaker

Learning new ways to stay creative with an artform that demands you go outside and meet people

Cost-of-Living Adaptation: Idriss Assoumanou, filmmaker

How do you make films when you're not allowed to go outside?

2020: the beginning of a new decade and the start of a new era for many. The UK was transitioning out of Europe, athletes were preparing for the euros and Olympics and Christopher Nolan’s TENET was releasing that summer. This was also the year I would launch some new business ideas for my film making career and kickstart my independent life. It was a year of promise and potential.

Reality

And then, lockdown.

The world stopped during the 2020 pandemic and a lot happened during that time. The toilet paper stock was on an all-time low, the rise of Zoom even though Skype was still a thing.

We learnt politicians were hypocrites, society became more hygienic, and people were finally crying out for injustice.

At the time the government announced the UK was going into a lockdown, I was relieved. I was working endlessly doing different projects and working part time as a film teaching assistant for PQA, so I was due a break.

The first few weeks were like an extended holiday, my back finally healed from carrying equipment to and from shoots, but I couldn’t help feeling uneasy.

As a freelance film maker, my work relies on others needing a video or photos taken. The pandemic made that very difficult. most of my usual clients couldn’t hire me for any video work for financial reasons and the lack of projects happening because of restrictions. Luckily, I had made a great connection with a talent agency previously. Once the restrictions were lifted, I was creating showreel scenes from their actors, which kept me very busy over the summer as I was making at least 1 or 2 scenes a day. Very tiring work.

Adaptation

Although I was enjoying my rest at hope, the restlessness was kicking in and I knew I had to do something to keep busy. That summer I gathered a few friends and made a short film which, later in the coming months, had a successful festival run and won me an award for Best Director in 2021. Unfortunately, everything was done online and there wasn’t a lot of physical interaction.

Networking contributed a lot to securing the next job or project, so when it came to looking for work it was difficult to find new clients as that was my main method. I decided to learn to improve my marketing and online presence to help me reach out to the wider public, so I spent months revamping and redesigning my website gathering new material and videos to add to it. The plans I had put on hold had to be rethought and restructured to suit the post-pandemic society. I really had to adapt to survive. Most of which was down to my own confidence which took a hard knock during lockdown.

Although the mandatory break was great, after a while I saw myself become complacent and lose confident in my own ability as a creative. Was I good enough? Could I realise my dreams as a film maker? The amount of energy and effort needed to make a film is somewhat driven by how strongly you believe in your own vision, and with the added pressure of “getting older” I came out of the pandemic with feelings of doubt and uncertainty. I had a lot of catching up to do and so little time before reaching the end of my 20: there was a lot to do, a lot to achieve.

One of my goals was to move out into my own place in 2020 and take time to learn to drive. This would help traveling for work and jobs in the industry, but at the time finding a driving instructor was like looking for a good film producer in Birmingham. Still even today it’s harder to find and book a driving test no later than summer 2024.

In the end, I learned no matter the situation you should always take the opportunity to express your creativity when you can, and a little virus shouldn’t stop you from touching grass and getting fresh air.

Header Image Credit: Luke Galloway

Author

Idriss Assoumanou

Idriss Assoumanou Contributor

Idriss is a Film Maker and photographer based in Birmingham. He has directed and produced many films over the years and has mentored a lot of people on their first journey into film making. He likes to write articles based on art and creativity, like his industry 'how to…' guides, where he explains and shares his experiences in film making and other areas. He also films and edits professional showreel scenes for actors to add to their portofio.

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