In an interview last weekend, Sunday Arts caught up with filmmaker Ryan Khan after learning that he had been accepted to the 2013 Berlinale Talent Campus, which will take place from February 9-14 in Germany. What opportunity could possibly be worth missing Trinidad and Tobago Carnival? "The Berlinale Talent Campus is a creative academy and networking platform for 300 up-and-coming filmmakers from all over the world," says the talent incubator's Web site.
"Emerging filmmakers will exchange thoughts with established industry experts on the intricacies of entertainment, how to push storytelling to unexpected levels and how to reach the heart of the audience. The Berlinale Talent Campus brings emerging talent and seasoned film professionals together and offers them a platform to refresh their views, discover new horizons, find fellow filmmaking collaborators and discuss new trends and developments in contemporary cinema and media."
Khan sees his acceptance to the Berlinale Talent Campus as the crowning achievement of what he has described as a winning streak over the last year. His 2012 Alice InWonderland-themed music video Stress Away for Kes the Band was accepted in the BBC Music Video Festival; and Khan won a Worldview/Tribeca Film Institute Pitch Award at the 2012 Trinidad + Tobago Film Festival for his first feature film project Crabs in a Barrel.
"I've applied for many things throughout my career and have received the standard issue 'Unfortunately you haven't been accepted...' response, with no specific explanation why, but I've kept at it and now rejection is no longer an obstacle for me," Khan said. "Now I have the mindset to adapt and work past that."In the world of filmmaking the probability of rejection is high and the Berlinale Talent Campus is no different. An official press release on the Berlinale blog states that 4,443 applications were received from 137 countries, including first-time applicants from French Guiana and St Lucia.
Khan is the first applicant from Trinidad and Tobago in the history of the programme.The programme includes an expert panel of well-known film industry practitioners who will host talk sessions for directors, actors, producers and cinematographers. The Web site for the Berlinale Talent Campus states that it has welcomed a diverse array of internationally acclaimed experts over the years as well as film professionals willing to share their knowledge and give insight into their life and work. The thematic focus for the 2013 edition is Some Like It Hot–Filmmakers as Entertainers. During the Berlinale Talent Campus programme, Khan intends to focus on film directing.
A sense of cultural identity and filmic vision seems to be one of the driving forces behind Khan's work. In addition to his biography and the submission of two past short films and other pieces from his past work, Khan was required to send to Berlinale a one-liner to describe himself. He submitted the following: "I am a Trinbagonian filmmaker. My films are saltwater-soaked, sun-baked visions of small-island life that explore what it means to live in a pseudo paradise."Khan received a lot of support on this venture from other filmmakers who provided recommendations, friends who encouraged him, and the Trinidad and Tobago Film Co (TTFC) which will give him financial assistance to go to Germany.
Khan is hoping to be able to host a talk session with fellow T&T filmmakers about his experience at the talent campus in conjunction with the TTFC on his return to Trinidad.
"Sharing this experience with the local industry was one of the reasons why I wanted to attend the talent campus. I'm excited to impart what I've learnt."
About Ryan Khan
Ryan Khan, 31, grew up in San Fernando before moving to Port-of-Spain at age 14. He attended Fatima College and then RBTT Roytec for a diploma programme. After graduating, he worked over the next three years in various jobs with computers, selling cars and also as a server at TGI Fridays. The film bug bit him in 2004 when he worked for the audio-visual production company Big Fish in a Blue Bottle. From there he began working on music videos and making his own films which include music videos such as Orange Sky's Alone, Tripped and Falling's In tears and Bad Endings and more recently, Stress Away and Take Me Away for Kes the Band. His short films include Minutes to Midnight and A Midnight Affair. His upcoming feature-length film Crabs in a Barrel is in pre-production, due to be released in 2014.