New talent has been entering the Pakistani entertainment industry with every passing year. With the need of young blood in the field, we have few experts in the industry who are irreplaceable.
Ace director Asadul Haq is one such example. With a bachelors degree in Advertising, Filmmaking from Ohio University, pursuing direction as a career was very natural for him. He loves the ‘60 seconders commercial’ and anything with wheels, be it an old steam engine or a brand new Porsche. Not only that, Asad’s love for the colour black is very reflective from his monochrome wardrobe.
The director started off with working for a couple of local advertising agencies before going on to establish ‘Ambience’, his own production house in the mid-1990’s.
Pakistan Today had the opportunity to know more about the director and his journey in the industry ever since.
- How has the journey been since you started and how has the field evolved ever since?
When we started out we had no advertising industry (yes, I sound like a grumpy old man now) but slowly the industry has developed over the years.
Ambience has been a big part of that transformation, we brought DOP’s, food stylist, choreographers, stunt people, etc in Pakistan from international markets. This made a huge impact in the local industry.
People who had previously worked with Ambience are now leading their own companies in their own chosen fields. So yes, it has evolved beautifully technique and technology wise.
- Tell us about the best ad campaign (according to you) that you’ve directed?
Morven Gold ‘Rhythm of Unity’, Don Carlos shoes (Black/White ad), HBL Bank Corporate Celebration ad, Red Bull Soundclash Pakistan, Coca-Cola and Sprite jobs, Telenor Black/White ad with moving petals flying through. And until recently Mobilink and Warid merger campaign and of course the Soneri Bank ad.
- What would you say is your signature direction? Tell us something about your style of direction?
I love being outdoors and there’s a certain look to all ads I direct like the sun, flares and my love for this country called Pakistan.
- How and why is it different from others?
We all have different personalities; each thinks, sees and formulates differently. Best you put all directors in a police line-up kind of place and you will soon find out how different we all are (laughs).
On a serious note, if you go through my work it differs on many accounts from other directors, especially when it comes to styling, wardrobe, equipment, techniques, etc…. there’s a certain look and feel that anyone can tell is the work created by me.
- Tell us something about the Soneri Bank ad 2017, about the project and the challenges you faced?
The ad campaign for Soneri Bank 2017 was one of those films that do not come knocking your door every day.
When Adcom (Soneri Bank’s ad agency) called me they already had it all on paper and they only wanted me to shoot it. It was beautifully written, but when we started talking and thinking deeper we realised it was not that easy.
I wanted big wide vistas and just a sailboat taking the wind. It was one of the most difficult jobs we had ever done.
As the sailboat needed wind it would come for a few hours early morning; thus, we had to plan everything thoroughly. We had a great cast and crew. When I saw the first dawn shot on my video assist I was floored and knew for sure the ad will be a big success.
- You already have Ambience and recently started Shiny Toy Guns, tell us more about it and its recent projects?
At Ambience, we mainly do thematic campaigns. Recently I observed that some of our clients were moving towards digital media and due to our focus on thematic campaigns the client felt that we were unaffordable or simply too big to produce digital content.
I wanted to change this perspective and hence re-introduced Shiny Toy Guns with a team more inclined towards digital media. For each job I handpick a young team, work on the concept with the director, attend meetings with the agency, client and director, find common grounds and then let the team do their thing; but keep a close eye on everything.
This way the clients get what they want for the price they are willing to pay.
For a nominal fee, the clients/brands get my team and my eyes for free.
Take Cornetto Pop Rock, we have only done 2 videos, but they have become the talk of the town. I think we were paid the same as other videos, but under my watchful eye, they got more in return for their buck as I got new kids to execute the jobs under my shadow. It was a win-win situation for all the parties involved.
I get new kids to come join Shiny Toy Guns on projects basis, the ones we like we keep them for our future projects with Ambience and some are also asked to learn a bit more and return when ready.
It’s just my way of nurturing the future generation at a very cost effective price.
- Tell us about your movie direction venture as well. Latest projects and what is in the pipeline for Asadul Haq as a movie director?
Dekh Magar Pyaar Say came out 2 years ago and I feel we still have to match its Filmi look in the local scene. I think production wise it was a bit ahead of its time and yes, it was a labour of love!
I am working on 2 different scripts right now, but not sure when will we start filming.
Maybe I will just serve as the executive producer on both films where I get to pick the team along with the director or maybe I will direct it not sure for now.
- How has the industry changed ever since you started? And what has been the most challenging part of adapting to the new digital era?
You get to keep abreast of what’s happening around you. We are constantly evolving, what we used 4 years ago is redundant now; the cameras, looks, style all is changing constantly..so you just need to be ready to change!
- Where do you get your inspiration for new projects?
It’s never from one source. You have to keep your eyes and ears open. Sometimes it’s an image on Pinterest, a sound bite on Spotify or could be a stranger on a bus… sometimes it’s just you.
- What is the best and worst part about your job?
The power which comes with the term director and the worst part is how easily it’s copied and pasted by others with no experience and ethics.
- What is a typical day for Asadul Haq when he is not a director and not working?
I can be a social butterfly one-day attending 3-4 events in one evening. Other days I can be out riding my Harley with boys from other worlds and be found at Desi Galli. Some off days I will not leave Netflix and my couch for 24 hours.
- What is the one thing people don’t know about Asadul Haq, tell us more about it?
I am very obsessive when it comes to my things; it’s almost a disorder. My belongings need to be placed in a certain order and once I have them in a certain way, even a slight move would irk me till I fix it back.
- What about any future projects?
I have a few projects and ideas in mind, but restoring an old building and giving it back to the local art space is something I would like to be actively involved in the near future.
- Any words of wisdom for aspiring directors?
Keep evolving, keep travelling, keep breaking the rules, and once you’re done with all 3 repeat till you are breathing.
You can find out more about Asadul Haq by visiting his website asadulhaq.com