BRWC Exclusive Interview: Iqbal Ahmed

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Iqbal Ahmed, the director of The Answer, out on VOD next month from High Octane Pictures, tells us whether or not technology is a blessing or a curse (or is it both?).

You’ve mentioned in previous interviews that you’re a fan of ‘identity’ movies. Can you expand on that? Films like Bourne Identity and The Fugitive?

Speaking for myself, I think that all audience members have struggled with their own identities. We’ve all wondered who we are and what we’re meant to do with our lives. So I honestly think that identity films are maybe the most relatable kind of movies we can see.

I also think identity movies bring out the best in heroes. There something really profound about watching someone figure out who they are in the midst of a crisis. These movies bring out the best of an actor’s performance.  I think you can couple plot with character development and see a movie of added richness that you might otherwise not have expected.

Nothing is better than a great action movie with a hero you care about.

Why do you you’re compelled with the subject of identity?

Identity has always been something I’ve been interested in. I personally always wondered where I fit in the world.  I came to film circuitously so when I finally arrived it felt like the right fit for me.  But it was a long journey to get there and a lot of trial and error.  And I think everyone has considered and possibly even struggled with these kinds of issues.  I care about an audience relating to my hero.   I want an audience to see themselves in these struggles – maybe not literally, but definitely on the larger emotional level.

Though a fun science-fiction movie, is there also an underlying message hidden in The Answer?

You know I never build a movie to send messages to an audience.  I definitely care about themes. I definitely care about a relatable journey. But I never purposefully build a moral or a hidden message into a film. I think audiences are too savvy for that.  But on a broad level I think a message can be that you never really know what you’re capable of doing. So at its most fundamental level I hope this movie can inspire others to go beyond their comfort zones.


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Do you think technology is a blessing or a curse?

Man, this is a tough one. Technology is a blessing AND a curse. For every large step forward we take in terms of technology, I think we might also be taking a murky step sideways.  Technology is completely wonderful and I don’t think we should ever curb our development of it. But at the same time, I think we’ll need to be wary of the new considerations that pop-up. The more advanced our technology becomes, the more we need to consider the repercussions.  Every action really does have a reaction.

And I’m not convinced it’s entirely human nature to reflect on our actions.  It’s hard to look in the mirror.  But I think it’s vital to do that in order not to wade into a swamp we’re not prepared for.

How different a movie would The Answer have been if it were made in the 1980s?

You know if this movie was made in the 80s, I think it would have been a little sweeter. Movies from the 1980s had such hopefulness and innocence. At least in terms of the larger studio movies that captured our imaginations. At the same time there was always a degree of complexity to my favorite 80s movies. Movies like “E. T.,” “Star Wars,” or “The Goonies.”  On some level I was hoping to retain the fun of 80s movies while trying to couple it with slightly more contemporary issues. Perhaps the smaller scope of this movie differentiates it from what the 1980s version would have been?

Speaking of identity. Did you know there’s another Iqbal Ahmed out there – he’s the Guinness World Record holder for the smallest working steam engine?

Ha ha I totally didn’t, but now I’ve got to Google it myself!

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