Presenting Winner of Best Fusion Film in the Fusion Doc Challenge Filmmaker Sofian Khan and “Timeshifters”

January 25, 2016

What’s your Fusion Doc Challenge film about?

Our film is about the origins and ultimate fate of the VHS format, something near and dear to my heart since I grew up watching movies and shooting on the format.

How did you choose your subject?

After an initial hesitation—basically, not having any idea what to do with the given theme and genre on the first day—  I was fast-forwarding through the DVD of Wyatt Earp (hey, it’s a very long movie!) and it kind of just emerged from that.  I was ‘moving forward’, which was the theme we were given, and my shelves are full of VHS tapes, so I put two and two together and started to make an outline.

What was the hardest thing about the challenge?

For a doc dealing with historical subject, which was the genre we were assigned, the biggest challenge was to find an authority on the subject to interview on such short notice.  I had to call several authors and academics based in the New York metro area before finding someone who wasn’t too busy, out of town or uninterested.  In the end I only had one interview, which felt thin, but Frederick Wasser at Brooklyn College gave us such a wonderfully informative and idiosyncratic sit down, that in the end it felt like he fit our quirky movie just right.

Sofian Khan's "Timeshifters"

Sofian Khan’s “Timeshifters”

What was the best thing about the challenge?

I’ve been working with a small but close-knit team for several years now on various projects.  But a few of my regular collaborators were unavailable.  This was a chance to pull together some new faces and form a strong bond in a baptism of fire.  The two all-nighters leading up to the deadline were the most fun I’ve had making a film in a while!  We were just kind of building this thing in the quickest, most haphazard way possible.

What’s your biggest take away from the challenge?

I think it’s amazing how the tools of the trade have evolved since those days when we were shooting on VHS and editing between a pair of VCRs.  Maybe it was the subject of the film that made me reflect on this, but it’s amazing how powerful and effective a few people with a camera and a couple of laptops can be.  While my sound mixer Barbaros was wired into Avid Pro Tools, I was color correcting on DaVinci Resolve, while in the background I was rendering titles in Adobe After Effects.  It’s just an incredible set of tools at our fingertips.

What is on the docket now for your film career/What are you working on?

I’m currently halfway through a feature doc about Iraqi and Afghan interpreters who worked with US forces and are now struggling to get themselves and their families out of harm’s way in the chaotic aftermath of the wars.  We recently got funding that will allow us to finish filming in the spring.

You can learn more about it at:

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