Talented LA-based Director Anouar H. Smaine spoke with Hollywood World about the making of his recent war drama “Battle Fields”. The film will screen on Saturday, May 26 at 6:00 PM at Producers Club Theaters in New York, now competing at the 7th International Filmmaker Festival of New York.
Hollywood World: How did you break in, and how did you come to be where you are now?
Anouar H. Smaine: I honestly never thought that I’d broken in, I simply wake up everyday and try to keep a promise I made to myself a long time ago: Never ever give up on anything you’re passionate about and believe in. It’s not easy to sustain that everyday when life throws all kinds of things at you, but the way I choose to respond to it is a measure of my commitment to the kind of life I want to lead – which is one of continuous learning, sharing, patience, and universal love through art. I started as a child actor in an Algerian film titled “Cry of the Rock” by director Abderahman Bougermouh back in the early 80s.
My father was playing a part in the film, so I found myself playing alongside my dad whom I had and still have so much admiration for as an actor and artist. Many years later as I found myself working on Hollywood sets, I realized how fortunate and lucky I was to have this opportunity to work along the best there is, a thing I will never take lightly or for granted. So the answer to the second part of your question is, I got to where I am through lots of hard work, lots of failures, lots of disappointments, but I never gave up and never will. Much more still needs to be done and accomplished and I’m just getting warmed up for the challenges ahead.
One thing that’s worth mentioning with regards to “getting to” where one wants to be is that no one succeeds on their own. Like in any other industry, people help and support each other, and in that regard, I have been fortunate to collaborate with many talented people I’m proud to also call my friends today. Producer Jonathan Angelier, Actor Corey Allen Kotler, Filmmaker Sean Stone, Casting Directors Hamzah Saman, Billy DaMota & Tulsi Ram, Producer/Actor Joey Naber, Producer Will Wallace, Filmmaker Del Weston, Filmmaker Amina Zhaman, Producer Aashish Mayur Shah, Veteran Consultant Jake Clark of Save a Warrior foundation and many more have all been part of this journey and I’m grateful to every single one of them for their continuous support and friendship.
Hollywood World: What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Would you like to highlight any you have been a part of?
Anouar H. Smaine: Film Festivals are such a great platform to feature one’s work and meet other creatives as writers, directors, producers, actors, distributors, as well as beautiful and diverse audiences that are there to discover, appreciate, learn, or simply be entertained. I’m very appreciative and grateful to all film festivals that value the work and promote up and coming filmmakers regardless of the subject matter their creation brings to audiences around the world. I’d love to see, however, more film festivals here in the US and abroad take more chances on filmmakers that come from under-represented, under-funded, voiceless communities and cultures which have socially relevant and very interesting stories to tell all of us – it would be a great way of promoting understanding, tolerance, and peace everywhere.
Some of the festivals I enjoyed participating in and which according to my own experience, put such emphasis on filmmakers and the quality of their work are Action On Film International film festival (Monrovia, CA. and Las Vegas, NV), Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema (Idyllwild, California), the Arab Film Festival (San Francisco & Los Angeles), Cinerockom International Film Festival (Beverly Hills, CA), Borrego Springs International Film Festival (Borrego Springs, California), and the International Filmmaker Festival of New York (Manhattan, New York). There are many other great film festivals here in the US and abroad but the list is too long to mention all of them.
Hollywood World: Would you share some details about some of your previous projects?
Anouar H. Smaine: Through my years in the film industry, I’ve worked on a number of projects and worn different production hats simply because it was important to me to understand and be acquainted with all aspects and perspectives of filmmaking. “Axis of Evil” was one of the main experiences I had in film production as I juggled the roles of Writer, Director, Producer, and Actor. While the shoot went fairly well (Shot mainly in Hollywood, CA), I quickly understood that assuming so many responsibilities never serves the well being of a production simply because you cannot keep track of so many moving parts while performing. Another great experience was on the Academy Award Qualified film “Reign” about War Casualties. I was fortunate to work with some of the most respected professionals in Hollywood, including director Kimberly Jentzen, Academy Award Winning Cinematographer Jack N. Green (“Unforgiven” – Dir. Clint Eastwood, “Rocky IV”, “Dirty Harry”, “The Bridges of Madison County”), Academy Award Winning Sound Mixer David MacMillan (“Speed”, “Apollo 13”, “Indiana Jones”) and character actor Will Wallace (The Thin Red Line, The Tree of Life). Directing “Sharia” was also a great experience as I was mainly focused on working with Actors while Producer Jonathan Angelier (my filmmaking and producing partner) was handling all other aspects of production.
Jon and I had previously collaborated on his film “Honor Among Thieves”; a thriller he directed and which I had produced for him at the time.
My film “Battle Fields” which we are presenting at the International Filmmaker Festival of New York City is our latest collaboration and we sincerely hope that it’ll be well received. The film’s story attempts to raise awareness about PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in Veterans and refugees alike and highlights the humanity that exists in people regardless of their cultural heritage or faith. I have also participated in other film and tv productions including the hit series “The Looming Tower” (Hulu), “WESTWORLD” (HBO), “9-1-1” (FOX), and Producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest mega production “12 Strong” with Chris Hemsworth.
I’m sincerely grateful to all people I have had the chance to work with and learn from, as this is such a wonderful and rewarding journey I get to share with people who have great creativity, discipline, and passion.
Hollywood World: What advice would you share with a filmmaker just starting out?
Anouar H. Smaine: I think the best thing I could say to anyone starting out is this: You will fail many many many times; know it and accept it. Believe in yourself, be open minded, listen and observe a lot, know how to stay quiet sometimes, be grateful and helpful as much as you can, work hard everyday, and know that it’s not going to be easy, so be very patient. Stay focused, create, and be kind everyday ~ Wishing you the very best.
Hollywood World: What can you tell us about your upcoming projects? What else can we expect from you this year?
Anouar H. Smaine: I’m working on three different projects currently; two features and a short film, which I’ll be producing for my filmmaking partner and good friend Jonathan Angelier (He will be directing this time). As for the features, one is to be shot this upcoming summer between Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, the other one I’ll be directing and Jonathan Angelier Producing in 2019. I unfortunately cannot say much about all three projects other than the fact that they will all be very entertaining and have a strong social and human message.
I sincerely thank you for this wonderful interview and salute all your readers.