'I hope that one day a hijabi will lead a blockbuster film,' says Windsor filmmaker
Asil Moussa strives to see more representation on and off screen through her films
Asil Moussa was eight years old when she knew she wanted to work in the film industry.
"I was watching the first Harry Potter movie ... and it hit me," said Moussa, adding she wanted to tell stories that moved people and tell stories people love watching.
"I wanted to be Hermione so badly. Then I realized I wanted to write it all."
The 26-year-old Egyptian-Canadian actor, writer and filmmaker is the only finalist from Windsor competing in CBC's Short Film Face Off series, with her film The Card, which she wrote, directed and in which she acts.
Moussa said growing up, she didn't see people who looked like her onscreen and she wants to change that.
"I hope that one day a hijabi will lead a blockbuster film, and that'll just be normal for people to see. And I hope that representation is also behind the scenes."
Moussa said she enjoys the element of uncertainty that comes with pursuing a career in film.
"I don't like being stagnant or complacent and knowing exactly how my future is mapped out ... It is scary at times. It is anxiety-inducing, but for me, the way to be less anxious is to work harder."
Moussa quit her full-time job two years ago to invest all her time and energy into filmmaking, writing and acting.
"People who aren't creative sometimes completely just don't understand the decision," she said, adding that she's grateful for her family's support.
She also seeks out projects "with a good workplace culture and good representative crew."
Trust the process
Moussa said one of the biggest challenges associated with filmmaking is not knowing how the final product will turn out.
"I've definitely learned to trust the process. Filmmaking is hard because you don't always see the end and you just have to believe that things will work out."
She also said one of the challenges when making a film in Windsor is the lack of resources.
"There's awesome people that you can work with, but sometimes it's hard to rent equipment ... You do have to go to either Toronto or L.A. if you want to work on bigger budget productions."
She said the most rewarding part about making films is watching them with an audience and seeing their reactions, adding that she hopes The Card reminds viewers to be kind to one another.
"I really wanted to explore how today's fast-paced society affects how we treat others," said Moussa. "Especially when people are stressed, overwhelmed or battling trust issues."
More alike than different
Moussa said she loves telling stories about complex women and minorities, adding that representation in film and television are a way to create empathy and build bridges.
"My ultimate goal is to make movies that enter theatres and that people love to watch and that showcase the universal human condition," said Moussa. "Because we are more alike than different."
When asked what advice she would offer to aspiring filmmakers, Moussa said they should "just do it."
"I would say watch a lot of movies, write a great script and then find friends, make a tribe and do it."
Moussa is currently working on a feature film script with another writer and hopes to sell it in Hollywood.
The Card, among other short films, can be seen on CBC's Short Film Face Off which launches Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. on CBC TV and CBC Gem.