Interview with Asher Emmanuel (Warehoused)
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in California but moved with my family to Georgia when I was 10. Most of my formative years took place in the south specifically in Gwinnett county which is just outside of Atlanta. As of last month ago I moved back to Los Angeles so in a way I have come full circle.
When did you first develop an interest in film?
In high school a good friend of mine got a hold of a camera and editing software and made short videos. I thought what he was doing was cool and started helping out on his shoots. In no time I was making my own stuff and linked up with community of filmmakers in Gwinnett county. Early on I was attracted to the transformative potential of storytelling to change or influence one’s perspective on a given topic or situation. Since then I have tried to improve my storytelling craft and tell stories that are personal to me.
What are some of the films that you've made or been involved in?
The filmmaker community in Atlanta is strong and I was lucky to work for years with Whitestone Motion Pictures which is a filmmaking collective company based in Buford, Georgia. I’ve directed and written several short films, created countless branded content pieces and I was the second unit director on a History Channel show for two seasons.
Who are some industry A listers that you'd love to make a film with?
I absolutely adore Roger Deakins’s cinematography and would love to collaborate with him. Any music Michael Giacchino produces is awesome and working with Bryan Cranston would be a dream come true.
What are some of the highs and lows about working in the film industry?
Creating original work that is authentic to you and communicates a point of view can be extremely rewarding. By the same token there are many obstacles and challenges to getting personal work developed and funded. It can be a lonely and painful process so it helps to engage in projects that you feel very passionately about. Also being a part of an artist community has meant the world to me and can be invaluable when you are in the thick of the filmmaking process.
Do you have a certain approach or style for making a film?
This might sound cliche but it really all come down to the story for me. At a fundamental level its about understanding who the characters are, what they want and what challenges are stopping them from reaching their desires. Building out from there every camera angle, lens selection, costume design, musical score, edit choice, color correction, etc is informed by the story. When I first started out I made these creative decisions more or less on what I thought was “cool” or what was popular at the time, but since then I see these individual elements are at their best when they serve the story.
You and Vincent Vittorio have an upcoming film called Warehoused. Tell us a bit more about the film and what it's about.
Warehoused is a feature documentary on the world’s largest refugee camp which is located in Dadaab, Kenya. The camp is estimated to have over 500,000 refugees and its been in existence for over 20 years. We get an intimate look at the camp and the refugees who live there but at the heart of Warehoused is the story of Liban and his journey to be reunited with his family who he hasn’t seen in ten years.
What were some of the things you learned while making the films?
I learned so much over the years of making this documentary. This is my first feature documentary and I come from a background of scripted content so the learning curve to making this piece pushed me beyond anything I have worked on before. We had a lot of difficulties in filming in Dadaab that restricted what we could capture so we spent many months trying to find the story in the edit. I’ve learned that you got to trust the process of storytelling and that if you stick with it long enough and open yourself to the possibility that you don’t know how the story will go, wonderful inspiration can emerge. Not to sound like a broken record but its really about listening to the characters you have in your story and letting them drive the direction of the narrative.
When is the film coming out?
June 20th which is also World Refugee Day.
How can people stay up to date with the latest news and updates about Warehoused?
Check out warehousedthemovie.com