LAHORE: Saman Kamran is an animation artist and director who is one of the pioneers of the stop-motion medium in the world of animation, especially in music videos. She has many feathers in her cap as she is a film director, script writer, art director and animation artist among few others.

The director of two short films, Venusfalle and Umme Rayat, she studied filmmaking at the National College of Arts (NCA) and it was during her studies that she started working for different projects as an animation artist. During her freelancing, she worked for commercial ads as well as for a renowned private TV channel. These days she is working with the Pakistan Television (PTV) Corporation. Her directorial projects included projects like Venusfalle, The Dark Sight, Every Child, See Thru the Sin and Theft while her documentaries included Christians in Pakistan and Gandhara: The Land of Fragrance. Many of these projects were selected for awards in international film festivals across the world.

Saman’s short films, Umme Rayat and Venusfalle won recognition at the international film festivals. About Venusfalle, she says: “I created Venusfalle, a dystopian psychological thriller that delves into uncharted territory for Pakistani cinema. My goal was to create a unique world, complete with distinctive locations, costumes, and art, all infused with a touch of surrealism.”

Talking more about the film, she says it was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether, and she experimented with these elements to create a narrative centred around a madhouse.

About the stop-motion animation and her interest in it, Saman says: “I created a stop-motion animation in Pakistan, featuring a detailed miniature set, costumes, rigs and puppets as I hadn’t seen such work locally before. Inspired by the grand aesthetic concept, I found the process enjoyable on a smaller scale.”

About her inspiration and work, she says that having previously made indie stop-motion videos that reminded viewers of music videos of Tool, the rock band, she decided to elevate her work to a professional level and assembled a team that helped her execute it. She was also inspired by Wes Anderson’s movies and David Lynch’s surreal stop motion work.

“Umro Ayyar happened four years back but it has been released now. Since then I have worked on many projects,” she tells Dawn while talking about her career.

Saman rues the fact that there is no film industry in Pakistan as such and only a film is recognised if it wins awards or gets attention internationally. “That’s why it’s hard finding work here. Besides there is less scope of art because you can’t find financers for your projects as everybody wants to produce a commercial film. For them it’s more of just money making venture than art and they are not concerned about art of filmmaking.”

At the start, Saman also had to face hardship in finding work and for her personal projects she put in money on her own and got financial support from her family.

These days she is working on an international collaboration, The Colony, which is in pre-production stages. A Dubai-based company is producing the film. Another film project in the making centres around women education in Afghanistan after the US withdrawal and restart of the Taliban rule in the country. It’s a story of an Afghan refugee from Pakistan who has never been to her native country in her life but she has to leave after the Pakistan state policy changed regarding the Afghan refugees.

Saman is still working in the world of animation and is a part of Umro Ayyar in which she has worked as an assistant director. Talking about the audience of animation films, she says there is definitely an audience for this medium in Pakistan as people look for new content. “When they don’t find much content in the Pakistani market, they look for it on Netflix and OTT platforms,” says Saman.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2024

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