Samah is one of the first professional hijabi filmmakers who, along with her husband, is making great strides in the world of Islamic film. Most well known for her work on the Inspiration series with Sheikh Omar Suleiman and Mohammed Zeyara, Samah has also worked on music videos with Maher Zain and other great projects. She gives great insight and inspiration to those who are interested in going into the film industry. Samah is known by giving intensive workshops in “Creative Writing” in different countries to help spread this knowledge.
| 1. Tell me about your background.
I am a 26 year old Jordanian film maker. I live in the United States with my life and work partner, my husband Muhammad Bayazid, to to produce meaningful professional productions in North America. When I was 6 years old, I used to hold my hair brush in front of the mirror and start to imagine myself as a TV Presenter talking to my imaginary guests, asking them questions and then talking to the audience behind the camera! That was always my dream, to be a TV presenter and to have my own show, but after I got older and learned more and more about the media field and the filmmaking industry in specific, I knew that my passion was not to be in front of the camera but behind it, where all the magic happens!
| 2. How have you developed your film career?
I read books and I attended many courses in Media and Filmmaking beside my studies at the University of Jordan. I also studied at New York Film Academy. However, reading and studying alone will not make you a good filmmaker. You need to practice. So, I attended many film sets before I started my career working professionally on different projects, short films, PSAs, TV Campaigns, Music videos, TV programs, documentaries and Drama series.
| 3. How did the idea for the Inspiration series come about?
A media group in Saudi Arabia called “Mulhim” approached Director Muhammad Bayazid and told him they are interested in producing an online show about the Prophet PBUH. Then we said let’s do something different and came out with the idea for the drama series “Inspiration“. In “Inspiration” we are showing the Muslim youth that there are so many common things between our lives today and the life of the Prophet PBUH, since most of the youth today think that we are in a very high-tech/post-modern society that doesn’t relate in any way to that time. Our main character, Mohammed Zeyara wasn’t so different from them, until he started reading more about the Prophet (PBUH) and his life. He found out that today is just another version of yesterday, and how connected we are to the Prophet (PBUH).
| 4. What other projects have you worked on/ are you working on?
I worked on different projects; Short films, PSAs, TV Campaigns, TV programs, Documentaries, Drama series and Music video. Our latest Music Video was for Maher Zain “Muhammad”, it reached more than 12 million views on YouTube Alhamdulillah. We just finished editing the second season of “Inspiration” series the last week and we are in the post-production phase now, it will be released very soon inshaAllah. Also we are working on a feature film based on a true story that happened in Chicago in the 80/90s, we are still working on the script right now.
| 5. What role do you think film plays in the image of American Muslims? (Why is it important?)
Unfortunately Muslims are being presented in a very bad way in Hollywood movies and American drama. Most of the time they are presented as terrorists or violent people, and in the best case scenario they are a bunch of ignorants! It is very important to clear this matter out, and to show the world the right image of Islam and Muslims through our own film productions. This is our responsibility.
| 6. What do you ultimately hope to achieve through film?
I want to help in changing our world into a better place through creating more well-made productions, and I want to inspire people and show them how beautiful and peaceful Islam is. Also I want to inspire Muslim Girls and Women in specific and show them that you can be who you want to be and you can have an important role in this world if you believe in yourselves, work hard and follow your passion.
| 7. What misconceptions do you think people have about the film industry?
I think the first misconception people have about the filmmaking industry that it is so much fun and it’s easy, they don’t know how hard our job is; months of preparations, weeks of filming and months of editing and post production processes. Each phase of these three phases is very time, efforts and money consuming. The second misconception comes into my mind is that people underestimate the importance of having our own film productions as Muslims, they need to believe that the media is not anymore an entertaining tool only, but a super powerful tool for change.
| 8. What opportunities are available for young Muslims looking to get into film?
Actually we have a shortage of professional Muslims in the filmmaking industry, so it is full of opportunities! We need from the Muslim youth (males and females) to be more involved in the filmmaking processes by studying it and practicing it. We need more professional Muslim screenwriters, creative directors, cinematographers, editors and directors who know how to utilize the tools of media while they understand our morals and values, as well as our weaknesses and challenges.
| 9. As a Muslim woman wearing hijab, do you feel that you had any challenges in this field?
Working in this field is one of the hardest and most challenging careers for women in general. However, it is definitely harder for a Muslim woman who is wearing hijab since no one is expecting a hijabi filmmaker on the set with all the prejudgments and misconceptions in their minds about Muslim women. Alhamdulillah since we are always working with professionals I don’t face any hijab related problems.
| 10. What advice do you have for other Muslim women looking to get into film?
I advise them to keep learning, working and using all the tools they have to spread their great messages and to make a good change in our Ummah’s reality. Most importantly, I advise them to believe in themselves and in their dreams and to never give up because the road is not going to be easy.
You can watch the inspiration series here