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Habib Semaan | SHOOT New Directors Showcase Event
Habib Semaan


Habib Semaan

How did you get into directing?
I’m pretty sure I was born this way. I gathered kids around me to put on a show in kindergarten and my mom was told I would be in the entertainment business. Then there was the time at a restaurant when I stared at the TV screen showing a music video until my sandwich got cold; I was eight. I directed student projects in high school, went to school for filmmaking and I have been imagining ever since. I think the answer is that I don’t recall not being a director.

What is your most recent project?
Aside from coming up with a music video treatment to every song that touches me, my last project was a short film about bullying, Bombs. It was finished and submitted on the deadline day of this competition. I would like to take this chance to thank Scott Crowningshield for writing the screenplay to the story, and for bringing his talent in cinematography into the mix.

What is the best part of being a director?
It is knowing that I have the wand in an orchestra, making things look and sound the way I envisioned. Being a director, a good one anyways, is having the talent to imagine, and possessing the techniques to bring it all to the screen. Being able to watch my idea on screen is a lot like drawing with my mind. Just ask a painter how he feels once he finishes his piece of art.

What is the worst part of being a director?
When you are so dedicated to a film you have a tendency to find a multitude of ways to improve. I am an overachiever and like art–I need to not stare so closely at the painting, picking apart all the imperfections but instead stand from a distance to appreciate the finished product. The worst part of being a director is letting go of my work because I can always find ways to make it better. That worst part though will vanish once the project screens, and you get the applause of approval.

What is your current career focus: commercials & branded content, TV, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
If everyone chose to stick with one specific genre, brilliant musical films like Chicago would not have seen the light of day. With that said, I do have a passion for music videos and I am intrigued with taking music and using it to create a mood within a film. My experience in editing helps me strategically place each shot to take the viewer on an emotional journey. This is the same goal I have as a director regardless of the format I’m working with.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates most with you?
Rene Kochman. Although thanking him during an Oscar speech is still not off the table, I want to seize every opportunity to recognize all the tools he provided me with to succeed. Rene was my boss at Fall River Educational TV and supported my decision to move to Los Angeles. He has been a father to me, a friend and the hidden voice that guides me in every career move I make.

Who is your favorite director and why?
I was jealous when I saw Black Swan and Memento, and I was in awe during the screening of Inception. Darren Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan are among the filmmakers that will be talked about years from now. I simply admire them and aspire to walk in their footsteps.
Needless to say any director, whose work provokes me, becomes my favorite.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
American Beauty. I remember staring at the screen about 20 minutes after the movie was over. The writing is genius and the performances are any director’s dream.

Tell us about your background (i.e. Where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
One afternoon, a popular kid at a school in Beirut learned the news he had to leave everything behind and move to the United States. The once outgoing teenager found himself a stranger in high school and quickly went to filmmaking to overcome his fears. That is my story. In the process of becoming a director in Los Angeles, I’ve taught all aspects of film & TV production, worked on music videos and edited different genres of TV programming.
I’ve made some good friends in different countries and learned interesting cultures; Since I physically can’t get to everyone I knew in my travels, at the same time, I have an urge to make a feature that reaches all the people I loved along the way.