We had the good fortune of connecting with Fatima Hye and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Fatima, what role has risk played in your life or career?
As an indie filmmaker, you take risks by definition – it’s part of the job description because you don’t have the resources or connections to do things in an established or even methodical way. So, to make things happen at all, you have to think outside the range of what’s “normal”, “the way things are done”. But deeper than that, as an artistic creative, not only do I want to be free to express myself completely, I also feel it’s pointless to simply do what others are already doing. For me to put so much of my time and effort into something – it should be original, bold, and contribute something unique, something only I could have done. But mostly, as someone with a lot of ambition, I continually challenge myself to go bigger with each project: I aim for higher budgets, more talented cast and crew, better locations, etc. in the push to more fully actualize my vision. I live in the space between what I’ve been able to accomplish thus far and what I’d like to accomplish in the future. I’m like someone climbing a tree: beginning with humble roots, slowly getting further off the ground, trying to maintain my balance, constantly reaching up…
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Since I have a lot of interests and studied Philosophy, my films tend to be on the conceptual/experimental side, usually beginning with an intriguing idea. My first student short, “Ritual” was about the patterns and connections I saw in the 3 Abrahamic faiths. A later short, “Black Mass Comedy”, was a satirical comment about universal societal pressures – it “flips the script” and tells the story of a teenager who rebels against his Satanic parents. “Animalium” is essentially a meta-ethical dialogue taking place during a summer road trip through Texas, and “The Players”, a cashless cooperative film that a group of us got together and made in the post-pandemic era, was heavily inspired by some #MeToo stories I had heard relating to the film industry. “Ana & Mia” began with the terrifying idea that there are groups out there that actually ENCOURAGE destructive behaviors. While it’s not easy to get the funds or resources to make independent films, I find that when you have interesting and compelling ideas, you do attract attention from people who want to work on high quality projects. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some talented professionals at discount rates and the casting for each film got progressively wider: “Animalium” got about 100 acting applicants while “Cryptic Triptych” (another feature) got 750, and “Ana & Mia”, a whopping 1500 cast and crew applications – many (on all 3) were from out of state and a few on the last two were even from out of the country! Once the projects are released and I’ve presented my work, I find that I get a lot of engagement – people have so many questions! I put passion into my work and am happy that the work in turn inspires passion in others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
While Houston is a foodie town and I enjoy the wide array of cuisine from all regions, and a stroll down Montrose to peek in all the cool little shops is a lot of fun – I especially love nature and the arts, so places I’d be sure to show off to a friend visiting from out of town would include: one of our many museums (a favorite from when I was a teen is the Museum of Fine Arts), the Rothko Chapel, and as a special treat, I’d try for us to catch a casual summer movie on the grass at Miller Outdoor Theater (we used to roll down that hill as children)!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to Shoutout every person who in turn, has taken a “risk” on ME over the years, especially when I was just starting out with no name, no money, and no connections: teachers, classmates, actors, filmmaking professionals, industry members, fans, supporters, and mentors! The list started with a few and grew to many over the years, so I’ll just begin with the “Big 3” from my days as a media student at UH: Randy Polk (who I still see at film events), Paul Schneider, and of course Keith Houk, who took a personal interest in me and got my feet wet as an editor.
Main photo is taken by Candice Ghai