At a tender age, Breech Asher Harani, a Dabaweño, has crossed his Rubicons to follow his heart. And the world, desperate for young heroes, has become his stage. How did this 26-year-old leap from amateur lensman to filmmaker extraordinaire? Resurgent contributor Reicza Gene C. Olojan reports.
Breech Asher Harani stared at the horizon.
As a content writer in an outsourcing firm in Davao City, he yearned for something more; the dullness and stagnancy of his job, coupled with a meager salary, egged him on to get moving. Having fallen in love with filmmaking while he was in college, he knew that this was the one for him. “It was the one thing that I had to do in my life,” he said. So he plunged into it, took the risk “because I had to.” He remembered an inspirational quote that went something like, if you were afraid to jump, that’s precisely when you jump. “So I jumped,” he laughed.
But he never saw himself as a filmmaker when he was still studying. “I was planning to do it as a hobby and work normal jobs related to communications. But never in my college days did I ever think of being serious in filmmaking, post-academics,” he said. Indeed, the road to success, and following his passion, proved to be a herculean task.
He started his new career on YouTube – uploading funny videos (The Psychology of the Selfie, The 10 Types of Students, The 8 Types of Praying, and Cinnamon Challenge) to generate money to create a film. His earnings, along with donations from some friends provided some funds for the film, but it didn’t win anything.
In fact, his disappointment didn’t end there. He’d been rejected more times than he could count but he viewed these as lessons for growth. He learned how to embrace refusals, enabling himself to turn these into positive experiences. Perhaps the most memorable flop for him was when he proposed a project to a person who was connected to the local film circuit. He’d told Breech point black: “You can’t possibly do that. You don’t have money, and you can’t create a film without money.” But instead of sulking, Breech took that as motivation and worked hard to prove himself right. Harboring no ill feelings, he says, “It’s funny when I think about it now.”
He never gave up on his passion. He asked for donations from family and friends and ended up with P800. Along with other available resources, he started working on a new film - Through the Mirror. This one bested others in Serbia and the USA. He then used the US$500 from his award to do another movie, Blue. The film received the Chinh India Award, the International Jury Award for the Plural+ Youth Video Festival and a United Nations Television (UNTV) Award. Blue was also one of the films presented at the Cameroon International Film Festival in Buea, Central Africa, the Hamptons International Film Festival in New York, and was officially chosen for screening at the International Youth Festival Langesund in Norway. It was also selected by IndieWise Virtual Film Festival in Miami, Florida, and the Hsin-Yi Children's Animation Awards. Blue also paved the way for a Hollywood stint – Breech directed Hailee Steinfeld's animated music video for her single, "Rock Bottom.”
His short documentary, Journey to Acceptance, was also selected for screening at the Festiva De Cortometrajes 'Jose Fransisco Rosado' Pacas in Pedro Munoz, Spain. Other screenings in Washington, D.C., Serbia, and New York followed. Breech says that his most treasured citation was his International Jury Award for the Plural+ Youth Video Festival which was held at the Paley Center for Media in New York City. The award, given to him in 2015, wasn’t his first. But it “kick-started everything.” Aside from the recognition, he also was a part of the international young leaders’ talks regarding the global issues on diversity, social inclusion, and migration.
By 2017, his list of prizes grew even longer: International Citizen Media Award in Munster, UN ESCAP Photo Award in Bangkok, 100 Best Science Photographers of 2017 in Manchester, Ambassador of the Word in Barcelona, If I Were Video Award in Paris, Ngilngig Films Special Mention Award in Davao, International Short Film Funding in Florida, STEM Research Documentation in Stuttgart, Cinematography Fellowship in Prague, Peacemaker Corps Award in New York, UN Together Award in Geneva, IOM Research Award in Seoul, ASEAN Short Film in Manila, and many others.
After all the accolades, the young freelance global multimedia specialist, independent filmmaker, and photographer remains humble. Every time he’s cited, he says that he “becomes lower and lower on the ground. I was just taking goldfish videos way back 2007, and yet here we are.” He says he’s happy with what he’s doing, as if it weren’t obvious enough, and that he doesn’t have regrets about taking risks because he is enjoying the fruits of his labor.
Aside from being a noted director, the 26-year-old leads quite a normal life. He is a huge advocate of Social Inclusion and Diversity so he gets invited by humanitarian organizations to talk about these and educate his fellow millennials. He speaks to both local and foreign audiences.
During his non-filmmaking days, he spends time with his family and close friends. At times, he also prefers being alone, watching movies or sleeping all day.
He confesses to a quirk – talking to inanimate objects as if they were alive, even scolding them sometimes, he says with a laugh.
Painting had been his first love when he was younger, and he continues to indulge in it; he gifts his works to his friends. He also mounts installation art, some of which are displayed in his former school in Compostela Valley.
Romance? Breech says that he’d been attracted before, but had never fallen in love. “To be honest, I have no plans of getting married,” he said.
He plans, instead, to continue living his dream.
[Photo grabbed from Mr. Harani's Facebook account.]