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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Director Profile: Mohammad Rabbani

1 February 2016
Many filmmakers would love to say that they have a BBC credit on their resume, Goldsmiths student Mohammad Rabbani can say he does – and all before his second year of university. Gemma Pecorini Goodall reviews Rabbani’s short film The Breakdown and asks the first-time director what it was like to collaborate with the BBC.

At the beginning of the new term, Goldsmiths’ #MadeItHappen campaign screened director Rabbani’s short film in the new Curzon cinema on the Goldsmiths campus. Rabbani’s short film The Breakdown is a five-minute horror short which concentrates its fear in the psychology of its characters and narrative. Rabbani uses many classic horror tropes such as the Dutch angle and human interest in spirits to create a refreshing short horror film which will leave the viewer surprised and wanting more.

The technical aspects of the film, particularly the eerie sound design and choppy editing, are frightening and very impressive for a first time director. The film, which was shot in his family home, gives an impression of comfort and familiarity that many horror films tend to lack due to their often over the top visual effects and gore. Rabbani went down a simplistic yet sophisticated route by keeping the horror in The Breakdown psychological and allowing the film’s pace to subvert frequently melodramatic tropes. The Breakdown was Rabbani’s entry in BBC 3’s short film competition The Fear which was aired this past November. A panel of professionals including Eduardo Sanchez, co-director of the revolutionary horror film The Blair Witch Project, judged the competition, which focuses on finding the next big horror director.

Rabbani completed the film, from pre-production to post, in a few weeks, completing the script in only a few hours. Having never picked up a camera before, Rabbani was very apprehensive of working with a professional BBC team. Rabbani however felt very at ease once on set, pleased with the remarkable equipment the BBC had provided for him and the feedback from his editor which expanded his view of the film. Rabbani and his crew, which consisted of 16 people in total, filmed the entire short in only 12 hours. Rabbani found the project while googling over his Summer holiday.

Rabbani wishes he had given himself more time for the production and plans on honing his production skills before embarking on his next venture. Rabbani plans on working with crime in the future, stating that the only reason he did horror is that he found the project online and decided to dedicate his time to it. Rabbani doesn’t pin point any specific films or directors as creative influences but states he draws inspiration from a multitude of art platforms as well as different global and local events, his day-to-day inspiring him. In terms of how Goldsmiths manages to foster creativity, Rabbani believes that the Media and Communications department allows for a free flow of creativity and imagination thanks to the department’s facilities and the diversity of the student body.

Rabbani is currently working on extending The Breakdown into a 12-15 minute short, having extra footage from the production, in hopes of sending the film off to various film festivals. Rabbani dreams of setting up his own production house in the future and believes that his collaboration with the BBC has only helped him become more confident with his creative plans. Rabbani currently has a few productions under way and is hoping to collaborate with other Goldsmiths students in the future.

The Breakdown isn’t Rabbani’s claim to fame but he hopes it will be a stepping-stone for bigger and better things in his future. Rabbani very maturely stated at the end of his film’s screening that you’re the only one standing in your way and stopping yourself from realising your creative potential.

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