Filmmaker Fatima Isse on why she’s destined to make films

“I describe myself as a very warm, down-to-earth, very focused, ambitious, friendly person. Very creative as well,” says an independent filmmaker and SAE Institute student Fatima, 36, while giving me a big, genuine smile. She is one of those people who radiates an instant sense of comfort and warmth, even though you just met her via Zoom.

Fatima is from London, UK, and remembers always being surrounded by the entertainment industry, but only the last year young woman decided to pursue films as her career path. “I used to work in London around attractions like the London Eye and Sea Life, dungeons, and stuff like that, and I was around actors, the entertaining type of department”, she tells me. “But I always used to write scripts.”

Fatima. Source: Fatima’s personal album

Fatima can be viewed as a diverse and enthusiastic film creator, as she enjoys all the roles that cinematography has to offer. “I would say basically at the moment I do quite a lot of writing, directing and producing, mostly now producing,” she tells me. “It’s hard to choose which one, but I think as a whole I just love everything about filmmaking.”

In terms of production, Fatima has her own film production company, River Lake productions, which was started four months ago. Besides this, the ever ambitious Fatima has already completed four short films and is waiting for four upcoming projects, including a feature film. “It requires quite a lot because quite a lot of the cast is in there, and crew as well, and it’s based around the ocean as well,” Fatima tells me. “I think it’s just 5%, per cent that we know about the ocean, and there is like 94% that we don’t know.”

Fatima with her team. Source: Fatima’s personal album

The film genres that this young woman enjoys are horror movies and psychological thrillers. “Those are the most dumb ones that I just love because they’re very exciting,” she continues. “There’s so much freedom as well, you know, and as you can get very creative, you know you can lead the audience in a different way.” Interestingly, currently, Fatima works with quite different genres than the ones she loves. “Most of the things that I do now is, like, you know, mostly like maybe fantasy, sci-fi and stuff like that.”

One of Fatima’s films. Source: Fatima’s personal album

The first step towards becoming a filmmaker for Fatima was doing a runner’s duties on her days off. “Whenever I was on set, there was a feeling…,” she tells me. “There was something.” It is believed that our voice changes when we talk about something that we love or are passionate about. Fatima’s warm and soft voice, when she explained why the film industry fascinates her, deepened. “I’ve just felt so at home, and I just felt like there’s something that I want to do for the rest of my life.””

Fatima gets her inspiration from writing and collaborating with others. “I’m always collaborating with, you know, other filmmakers, and it’s just, it’s amazing to see the difference in styles as well other people tell stories, so it’s just amazing to be around amazing creative people.”

Fatima on the set. Source: Fatima’s personal album

The most exciting collaboration for Fatima was working on her previous project, the sci-fi film Hurricane Road, where she took the producer’s role and was responsible for financing, casting and getting the location. “There was a lot of paperwork, but that was the most exciting ’cause I had to cast children,” she tells me. “I’ve never casted children before in my life, so it was an amazing opportunity to be a part of.” Moreover, Fatima submitted the film Hurricane Road to globally acknowledged film festivals such as Cannes and Sundance Film Festival.

One thing that Fatima wishes that she had known earlier though, is knowing that sometimes you just have to use what you have at the time and do what you desire. “If you want to make a film, you can just write a two-minute script and just do it.”

Fatima on the set. Source: Fatima’s personal album

Fatima’s biggest dreams career-wise are improving herself as a filmmaker and gaining more confidence as a woman in the industry. “Be the best version of myself, I think,” she tells me. “And tell stories, amazing stories, and not be afraid. If I have a story (that) I want to direct (or) this film to go for it. Basically, never question it.”

Fatima on the set. Source: Fatima’s personal album

Fatima recalls that at one point, she even tried to turn away from filmmaking and focus on other things that interested her, such as makeup, but she came back to her primary passion. “But in a way, I feel like filmmaking has chosen me,” she continues. “I felt like there was a time that I was kind of running away from it, pursuing other dreams,” she tells me. “Maybe like doing makeup and stuff like that, but I think, in a way, it just kind of grabbed me and said: “OK, it’s time.”

Follow Fatima’s journey here:

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