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“HaZ” Dulull and sci-fi guerrilla filmmaking

People know him as HaZ, and his sci-fi films are instantly recognisable. He was late coming to filmmaking, with careers in Games and VFX first of all
My name’s Hasraf Dulull, but most people in the industry call me HaZ. I am a filmmaker with a heavy visual effects background. [RADIO CHATTER]
Tactical team is on one of two possible locations. T minus one minute. Target is suspected of being in possession of a Cold War cyber weapon. Well, a lot of it came out of frustration of wanting to make films since I was young. I didn’t go to film school, my parents really wanted me to do like computer science and maths. So I ended up working in the video games industry, which is a good compromise. From there, I realised I was doing a lot of sort of like filmmaking. I was dealing with CG cameras. I was dealing CG lighting. I was involved with, you know, cinematography and shot compositions.
And back then, you would edit and do everything, so it was a very guerrilla way of making things. And obviously, as the game consoles got bigger, their productions got bigger, the budgets got bigger. And they became very much like a film pipeline. And I said to myself, I really should be working in the film industry.
I had a good career as a compositor. I rose up to become a visual effects supervisor. And it was when I was a visual effects supervisor, I realised perhaps I want to make movies, maybe now’s the time to do it. Not tracking any movement. Switching to thermal imaging. Copy that. Perimeter secure. Alpha Team, go.
Being an visual effects supervisor meant that I had to go on set. I had to be involved in, literally, making the movie, especially if it’s there’s a heavy VFX movie, which requires a lot of green screen. You’re, essentially, part of the filmmaking process. And you get to work very closely with good directors and bad ones. You know, both practises. And work very closely with the executives. And spend a lot of nights in the edit bay, constantly editing, trying to figure out solutions. And I thought, yeah, I want to make movies. It won’t stop. It’s sole purpose is to keep on going until it delivers that package to its programmed destination. I then end up making a couple of short films.
And the one that, kind of, was my breakthrough was a short film called Project Kronos. It wasn’t about creating brand new technologies from the ground up. It was about using all the scientific, medical, and engineering research we have acquired over the years. It was about the fusion of advanced medical science, combined with space exploration technology. I was well-versed in technology. I was well-versed in what tech to use to make movies, the language of filmmaking. And cameras, and apertures and all that. And that became my film school. So that was, essentially, visual effects became my film school education. Being in visual effects, you can so easily, pretty much like, the world’s your oyster. You, literally, could do anything you want.
And it’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing. My biggest advice is firstly, try to understand the story you’re trying to tell. What is the story trying to tell? Do you need visual effects? Or do you need to use visual effects in that way? You know, I made sci-fi films. So and again, with Kronos– if you look at Kronos– it isn’t a heavy visual effects movie. It feels very real. I use visual effects as a way to compensate for the things I couldn’t do in camera. So my big advice to anyone is look at your budget. Look at your surroundings, look at what you have access to. Look at your resources and make a film around the resources.
My other advice is don’t try to replicate Avatar or The Matrix. You can’t really compete that. And I’m not saying don’t go out and be ambitious. No, that’s the difference between ambitious and smart. But just be realistic. Be realistic, but most importantly, what is the story you’re trying to tell? We live in a world where data theft goes further than just hacking networks.

He’s known to his colleagues and friends in the industry as HaZ, with a keen eye for visual effects.

HaZ started his career in video games, creating cinematic CGI sequences before moving into film visual effects as a compositor, eventually rising up to Visual Effects Supervisor and VFX Producer roles. He’s now a Visual Effects Creative Director in the Motion Pictures Industry, and has been nominated for several Visual Effects Society (VES) awards for his Visual Effects Supervision work.

HaZ transitioned into writing and directing with his self-funded sci-fi short – ‘Project Kronos’ (2013) which earned him representation and status as an emerging filmmaker.

He is currently attached to several studio projects as writer & director while still working in the visual effects industry as a VFX consultant. His latest film is ‘Sync’ about cyber espionage and rogue androids and it’s featured in the interviews HaZ gave for this course.

Now you’ve seen two different guerrilla filmmakers, working in very contrasting ways, making very different work. What do you think are the commonalities in their approach? What effect would big Hollywood blockbuster type budgets have on their work?

Tell us what you think in the comments below!

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Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers

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