feature: young director saji gabriel abude on doing something big while you are “little”.

February 25, 2015

My name is Saji Gabriel Abude. I am from Manhattan, NYC, currently finishing my last year in high school. Almost about a year ago I was accepted into the yearlong Tribeca Film Fellows program, for juniors and seniors in high school, in NYC. In the spring portion we examined films, spoke with filmmakers and explored our own ideas. During the summer we learned technical skills, and developed our own scripts. At first I didn’t know what to write about, it was one of those things where I felt like I had been waiting for an opportunity like it forever, then when it came down to it, I had no ideas. So, I just started writing scenes of my friends, and me and when I had finished I took a step back and realized I had regurgitated this beautifully woven story of my life experience as a teenager. This had a specific emphasis on racial, sexual, and socially identity being that I am one of the few “black” kids in my friend group. This ended up being my script “JUXTAPOSED” (now in pre-production). After the summer, school came back around and all of us film fellows started to figure out where our resources were going to come from for our films. Almost simultaneously, I had experienced my friends also trying to figure out where to gather resources and have a platform for our own individual projects. And this is when I decided to try and achieve something “big” while being “little”.

By Saji Gabriel Abude, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Throughout the past handful of years, not only have I struggled with figuring out who I am as a person and artist, but also what kind of art I wanted to contribute to the world. Dabbling in music, film and visual art, I have had many chances to create work that is easier to consume, but I try to stay away from that. While it is extremely frustrating to try and figure out how/why you can get your work out there, it is also extremely humbling. While I may not make music that generates tens of thousands of listens on Soundcloud, or films that go viral after a week, I am still proud of my work. Now of course how much exposure my work has/gets doesn’t dictate my happiness or dedication, but it does affect me, especially since I am still forming my style and focus. Up until the past couple weeks I have never felt discouraged about anything I have ever created. Even if I end up not liking a finished product I still take it as a learning experience. But after creating this Kickstarter I have been in a state of disappointment/discouragement. I thought I was doing something so grand and spectacular and amazing, that people wouldn’t be able to resist helping out and supporting. With people like my mentor (and “JUXTAPOSED” executive producer), Terence Nance and organizations like Tribeca Film Institute backing me, I thought I was golden after posting the project. Apparently not.

Now approaching its final week online, the “WCD-NYC startup” is not going as well as I had hoped and expected for. The concept was to create a multi-media, youth based production company, with a kind-of “for us, by us” attitude. Why it has been so unsuccessful, I don’t know. Everyone has been sharing, emailing, etc. with what seems to be such admiration for the idea, unfortunately it just has not been blossoming. Never fear! With/without the Kickstarter being successful, “JUXTAPOSED” and all of these other projects will still be produced, and WCD-NYC will still be created. It will just be a heck of a lot of a bigger mountain for this “little” guy to climb. (For more work/images check out the kickstarter and WCD website!)

Photo above by Milo Selchaif