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Personal Statement/Study Objectives Essay; Fulbright


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I applied for US Fulbright Scholarship from my country, Pakistan, to study Film Production back in 2013, but my application was rejected (reasons unknown). Below is the Personal Statement and Study Objectives essay I submitted with my application which I need people's views on, and how I can improve on it as I plan to reapply this year.

Personal Statement

I grew up in a family that has no prior history in the profoundness of visual art. It was quite an act of eccentricity when as a child I was attracted towards a blank paper and pencil than a shiny new tricycle that my brother used to zoom around the house or breaking apart from a smiling crowd to run towards the camera that would eternise memories. Often I would pen down fictional anecdotes of my encounters, in hopes of invoking in others the same level of enthusiasm I experienced. It was around the age of 9, when I witnessed the `big bang of science-fiction’ in 2001: A Space Odyssey. The peculiar artistic quality of this scientifically and philosophically grounded narrative was a silent epiphany which was to influence my personal and professional growth for years to follow.
Through the 90s the works of Robert Zemeckis and Paul Verheoven continued to impact my perception of reality. It was the appreciation of this science based imagination which deems fiction a plausible idea, that lead me to my undergraduate thesis project; Arts and the Analytical Mind. The visual exploration of how unparalleled innovation is the result of a synched application of the arts and science – the creative and analytical facets of human cognition – gained impetus from an assumed divide between the two as it exists in our cultural environment and is one of the factors contributing to the decline of our film industry. The fantastical realm of imagination, most pertinent to our times, went missing from a film culture that had a history of folk tale mythos to gain from.
In my years of study at the University of Karachi, my mind imagined most projects as a motion picture and as a result I felt constricted by the media and skills at hand. Since film was not as such part of the Communication Design curriculum at the University of Karachi, I chose a minor in Illustration which was the best alternative to the sci-fi noir of visual narration that held my interest.
Given my economic circumstances my only motion picture indulgence was in providing assistance with characterisation and composition of the visual elements to acquaintances and peers who were already working as professionals and recognised my passion. With the heavy equipment demands of the field and the unavailability of these facilities on campus, this was my only opportunity to tenaciously try to gain skills and a diluted knowledge which would help me channel my ability to meet the prerequisites of the profession and art of filmmaking.
My recent involvement in a project: You Will Know Things at Kamran Jawaid Productions was my first foray into working with a pilot script. At this stage I realise that an overarching training of filmmaking is essential in the expedient and firm building of a skill base necessary to venture into the direction I wish to explore. While courses like screenwriting prepare towards a better understanding of the art of narrative, retrospective study and criticism of cinema will broaden my scope in understanding the anatomy of visual expression and essentially bring the best out of me.
One day I will make a science fiction film which will be on par with the Industry that demands commercial success coupled with aesthetics and a resounding creative vision. As unrealistic as that may seem at this point, studying filmmaking in the United States can make it a reality. A small but important milestone on this educational journey, this opportunity with the support of Fulbright Scholarship, will not only provide me with the necessary knowledge and prowess but will also expose me to the exquisite film culture that has been at the apex of unrivalled visual expression for decades. As a visual arts student whose work and ideas are often rooted in the metaphors of local folk tales; their modernistic iteration and futuristic projections, my contributions will provide a unique cultural perspective and be an asset to any institute I become part of.

Study Objective

For the past few decades, Pakistani film industry has been on a decline. The Industry, which once used to produce intelligible, far-reaching content has now been reduced to catering to those who are least interested in the narrative facet of the medium of entertainment. With its current portfolio the industry falls indigently short of making into the international viewership radar. The Pakistani film industry is in dire need of commercial production that could cater to the heterogeneous demands of the populace. Much needs to be done to bring back the era when the country’s cinematic genius shone on the big screen.
Consequently the current state of Pakistani Film Industry brings abundant opportunities to take the cinema in new directions. This gives incentive to render a platform which would allow exceeding the boundaries of established trend hence putting into motion an advent of local ethos dowsed in contemporary shade. Assembling the best of both worlds would give rise to an impulsion that would form a breeding ground for a generation of unexampled visual expression. With that vision and perseverance, I can contribute to the equation of progress by lending my expertise in the context of both practise and pedagogics.
My post-High school search for film institutes yielded unsatisfactory results as film education was a relatively new discipline and lacked properly equipped training grounds. With not many alternatives around, Graphic Design – also known as Communication Design – was my closest option and helped gain profound knowledge of the various aspects of visual art and creative expression which will aid in my future endeavours and study plans. As a self-taught writer who went to design school I find motion-based media to be the most effective form of communication. For me, the motion-picture medium is a three-dimensional canvas on which I can ‘paint’ my imagination.
In this regard my intended field of study and execution is Filmmaking, which encompasses vast disciplines from which I wish to gain significant knowledge and skills in the areas of writing and directing fiction/non-fiction for the cinema and television, whilst also gaining expertise of the technology involved in the process of filmmaking. Film schools provide a well-rounded understanding of the practise of filmmaking, and in an environment of peer collaboration and learning my indulgence in creative expression will pave way for a unique insight and substance that would contribute towards the diversity of the discipline.
In pursuance of this ambition I recently became part of KJP – Kamran Jawaid Productions as a production assistant, working together with a multitude of media production professionals to deliver content from genres derived from culture subtleties, bringing along the way revival of the film culture that once was pride of Pakistani entertainment industry, all the while helping shape the forthcoming endowment towards the manifestation of an era of better visual expression.

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