We had the good fortune of connecting with Farheen Umar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Farheen, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Starting a business for me was part of the journey that I was on. After marriage and moving where my husband lived, continuing a corporate career became less aligned with my new life situation. However, I was not one to be satisfied with staying at home and not using my education or need for mental stimulation. Although I had an MBA and had worked as Brand Manager in a large company, starting my own business was like an exciting new adventure to me. I decided to explore documentary filmmaking as a passion pursuit and after completing a film certification at UCSD, I started production on my first documentary film: Women of Islam. This documentary was inspired by events following 9/11 and news coverage about Muslim women in the Middle East. I felt the portrayal of these women was untrue and out of context. I decided this would be an apt topic for my first work and went on to film Muslim women in different parts of the world including Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and the USA to show the diversity and complexity of Muslim women and their choice of covers. This documentary was broadcast nationwide on PBS and got press coverage in major newspapers and media publications. It was acquired by libraries and universities across the country and is now available for streaming on Amazon. This first success story led to the production of other documentaries and I did these productions under the brand PASHA FILMS (www.pashafilms.com) . Apart from long-form documentaries the company also provided video production services for San Diego businesses. With the advent of internet and social media marketing I realized that companies need more video content without the high production costs involved with hiring production companies. Also with YouTube taking the world of social media by storm, I realized there was a unique opportunity to help companies create videos for their marketing in a different format. I recently launched the business VIDEOKADEMY to provide consulting, distance learning and resources to help businesses produce on-going video content without hiring production agencies.
What should our readers know about your work?
Being a filmmaker and video creator was not something I was great at from the start. It is only through painstaking work, experimentation and learning from the work of others that this skill is acquired. It is not something you can just read about. To hone your skills you have to pick up a camera and learn how to do lighting and filming. You also need to develop a strong sense of what makes for an interesting story or character. Finally editing and post production is a highly technical domain requiring learning specific softwares. This work is not for the faint of heart and requires long hours of work in unpredictable circumstances. However, I find joy and challenge in this pursuit. To create important stories that change people’s perception of the world is very fulfilling for me. I have a passion for creating great videos and films. Whether it’s a 3 minute video commercial for a brand or a feature documentary for television, I don’t rest easy till the objective of a beautiful video that resonates with the audience is achieved.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to give a Shoutout to Felena Hanson of Hera Hub San Diego for creating a co-working space for women entrepreneurs and business owners. This place has given me the courage and community to continue on my business. Business ownership can feel like a lonely journey and being of Hera Hub gives me the space and support to trudge along on this journey.