It wasn’t until he wrote his first short script in 2014 that this year’s Toronto Film School Online valedictorian truly recognized filmmaking as his life’s calling.
Aiman Abdo Al-Shargabi was living in civil war-torn Yemen at the time and felt lost. He’d studied Civil Engineering in university but didn’t enjoy it. He knew he wanted to explore his lifelong fascination for film and television but wasn’t sure how to parlay that passion into a career.
After a move to Egypt in 2015, the now-32 year old began researching his options and discovered Toronto Film School’s 24-month Online Video Production program.
“I didn’t have any plans. I wanted to study filmmaking, so I’d started self-studying. I used to read and translate English books to learn from until I found Toronto Film School’s online program,” he said, calling his educational experience with TFS a ‘busy, but rewarding’ one.
Since earning his diploma in Video Production, Abdo Al-Shargabi has launched his writing and directing career, specializing in advertisements and commercials. His successful collaborations with several clients and different brands have since spurred a desire to establish his own production company.
Abdo Al-Shargabi recently sat down to reflect on his time at Toronto Film School, his passion for filmmaking, and his plans for the future. Here’s what he had to say:
First, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am from Yemen, 32 years old, and I have always been fascinated by films and novels since I was a young kid. Later, I became interested in photography. But I didn’t know that I would be a filmmaker one day until I wrote my first short script in 2014.
What brought you to Toronto Film School? Where were you in life when you decided to continue your studies with us?
I moved to Egypt in 2015, right after the civil war in Yemen. I felt lost. I didn’t have any plans. I wanted to study filmmaking, so I started self-studying. I used to read and translate English books to learn from until I found Toronto Film School Online’s program. I felt that this was the right place to study in.
What made you decide to pursue your passion for video production?
At first, I wanted to study Film Production, but it wasn’t available as an online program. Then I found that Video Production has a variety of storytelling platforms besides short film projects and screenwriting courses – things like digital media, factual entertainment, and branded content, which are all things I fell in love with. So, I applied to the Video Production diploma program, because video production is a wide-ranging career. I felt that it was the right thing to study for getting good job opportunities in the media market.
What is the most important thing you’re taking away from your studies at TFS?
I learned a lot from TFS and the hands-on projects we did, the great teachers who followed up with us every step, our discussions with peers, and the readings. I remember how sad it felt when I was uploading my final project assignment. But, I didn’t want it to end. The teachers at TFS were helpful and faithful. I am still in touch with most of them. I am sure we will keep in touch in the future. It was a busy, but a rewarding program of study.
What are your plans after graduation, both immediate and long-term?
I plan to establish my production company and get a bachelor’s degree in creative arts. My immediate step is to get involved in the media market and collect as much expertise and networks as possible, which I do nowadays.
If you offered one piece of advice to an incoming student, what would that be?
My advice to an incoming student would be: read books and notes; watch great works, experiment; discuss with peers and teachers; make friends, and don’t forget to have fun. It is not about grades, it is about the journey itself.