It’s fitting that Yasser Abubeker’s introduction to cinema would be the fantastical, Technicolor, 1939 masterpiece The Wizard of Oz. “I’d play it from start to finish, back to back, as a kid,” says the 27-year-old, who’s now set on making his own effervescent imprint on the filmmaking scene.
Last October, Abubeker directed the intimate music video for A Friend, the synth-soaked debut single by club kid-turned-musician Ms. Carrie Stacks. Filmed on the pier in Southend, Essex, “it was the first project I can say I’m really happy with,” says the West Londoner, who studied film and TV production at Brunel University, before cutting his teeth running and assisting on sets.
Seven years later, he has become something of a production powerhouse, with shoots for the New York Times T Magazine, London’s Design Museum and Jason’s Closet under his belt. Perfectionist Abubeker used production as a means of “having a fully realised sense of what it is to see a project from concept to delivery”. After years of climbing up the production ladder, he’s ready to put his director’s hat on.
“Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to direct, that was the end goal,” he explains. “It felt like the final hurdle, and the beauty of working as a producer means I know all the graft – as a runner, I’ve had people talk to me like absolute shit. Your sense of humanity can become so warped in this industry.”
Directing his good friend Ms. Carrie Stacks’ music video for the aptly titled track A Friend was a watershed moment for Abubeker, whose deep connection with it made the experience of bringing the song to life special and cathartic. “We both went through it in lockdown,” he continues.
“We had an evening on Zoom where she played the album in its entirety for me. We were crying, laughing, talking about our experiences. I live for that song, and I immediately saw how it could play out on screen.”
As for what Abubeker has up his sleeve, there’s talk of him bringing his own short film script to life, a project that was due to start filming last December. Even though a production company expressed their interest, they unfortunately had to pull out because of Covid-related financial trouble.
“I’m going ahead with the film anyway,” Abubeker says, undeterred. “I believe in the project and I’ve been working on it in my mind for the past two years. It’s a really topical, surrealist telling of the migrant journey.”
And if his influences are anything to go by, we can expect vibrant colours, elaborate narrative arcs and characters. As a director, Abubeker is nothing short of a maximalist – even though his music video for Ms. Carrie Stacks was pared back, “her performance, the meaning of the song, how it feels, how it sounds. It’s huge.
“I live for drama, for things that make you feel something and pump adrenaline into your veins,” he concludes. “Look at the Wicked Witch of the West! She’s fucking fab.”