Why every creator needs a scene with filmmaker Suridh Hassan

29:20
 
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By age 30, Shaz Hassan had several significant projects under his belt. His London-based production firm Studio Rarekind, cofounded with Ryo Sanada, had produced and sold three independent films, “Scratching The Surface” about Japanese hip hop culture, "Rackgaki" about Japanese graffiti art, and “Soka Afrika” documenting human trafficking in football.

They had authored two books on graffiti art in Asia which led to a new project, Stickerbomb, a series of sticker books curating street art from around the world.

These projects established Studio Rarekind’s reputation as a creative studio plugged into contemporary culture and attracted projects in sports, music and art.

Not bad for someone who started out as video paparazzi doorstepping Justin Timberlake as he came out of a club.

The day after he submitted the hard drive containing Soka Africa, Shaz got on a plane to Southeast Asia “and basically never left.” He lived and worked in Siem Reap, Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore for the next decade.

Shaz had come up as part of the street art and DJ scenes in Brighton and then London’s East End, which nourished Studio Rarekind creatively. Coming to Southeast Asia, he sought new creative scenes and found pockets of it in Jakarta, Bangkok and around the region.

Moving to Singapore to “get serious,” Shaz struggled to find a scene that synced with Studio Rarekind’s edgy vibe. While they won great projects with advertising clients like Nike and Netflix, it pulled them away from making the films they loved. (It maps to the 5-year gap in Shaz’s IMDB page.)

“I was out drinking one evening with another agency and I realized that what we were creating was essentially what they have. It set off a trigger in my head: Wow, I don't want what they have. I never wanted that in my life. What am I doing?”

In this interview, Shaz talks about how Studio Rarekind built a culturally-relevant body of work, the decision to close down the studio in Singapore, and why every creator has a “therapy piece.”

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