Lena Khan is an independent filmmaker, she has worked with many famous production companies such as; Participant Productions (Syriana, The Kite Runner) and Valhalla Motion Pictures (The Incredible Hulk, Armageddon). She has been honored and has won several awards and is now working on her first feature film, titled “The Tiger Hunter”.
Hey Lena! How are you today?
Doing good. Tired, but that’s nothing new!
So, tell us more about Lena the person, what do you like to do when you’re free?
Well, I’m not free that often honestly these days. I like to spend time with family and friends when I am, otherwise if I’m just at home by myself I like to mess around with my guitar or camera.
“The Tiger Hunter” is the title of your first major production movie, tell us about it, what’s the story of it and what inspired you to write it?
The Tiger Hunter is a dramatic comedy. It’s the story of Sami Malik, a young South Asian who comes to 1970s America to chase success, but gets caught up in an elaborate charade with a group of misfit roommates when his job falls through and his childhood sweetheart is getting courted by somebody else. I was inspired by two things — for one, a friend of my brother’s wrote me once mentioning a funny story of how his dad came to America, and he and his roommates scheduled an entire set of interviews around their one pair of good pants, where they would have to keep switching off. And secondly, I was inspired by the stories my dad used to tell about his life with his dad (a tiger hunter) before he came to America, and all of what it took for him to get by here as an immigrant new to the country. For the most part though, The Tiger Hunter is fiction, and is really the story of a group of guys chasing dreams bigger than society will allow them to have, and coming up with hilarious ways to pursue them anyway.
Are there any big names working with you?
Right now we are just starting to crew up, but otherwise we have a good team. My producer, for instance, has been working with an A-list celebrity for the past 7 years and is connected across Hollywood, and the person doing our casting is similarly known across Hollywood. Beyond that I can’t say much and people are only starting to come on board.
Who is going to play the lead role in the movie?
We haven’t cast him yet.
You’ve worked with some big names including Maher Zain, what is it like to work with such people? Do you get nervous?
I am nervous before any shoot of mine, it doesn’t really matter who it is for. It was great working with Maher though; he is truly a talented artist and having him and his music to work with only makes everything more stimulating creatively. On top of that, he is a great person. But in any video, so much goes into a shoot – months of planning, lots of money, that I’m always nervous. Things can always go wrong and as a director you have to be able to deal with it and come up with solutions as they come up, On one of Maher and Irfan’s videos for instance, Maher’s flight was late and he didn’t end up arriving till halfway through the shoot. I had to change the entire concept of the video in a couple hours to save the video.
What is your favorite thing about directing?
Breathing life into a concept. When you’re directing, you’re molding everything — you imbue a vision into the production design, the characters, the colors, the cinematography. You have to work with talented people to help mold that vision and execute it, but ultimately what just started as a concept or idea has life breathed into it at every step based off of what you want to do with it.
But besides that, I love hearing about how people experience the work I directed. How were they affected? Were they talking about it later? That’s the second part of what I love about it.
I’ve been following the project for a while now, your success at Kickstart impressed me, are you still raising money for the movie? How can people help?
Yes — making a film is an incredibly ambitious move. It’s hard and it is always an uphill battle to get the financing in particular. We have raised the overwhelming majority of the budget but still need some of the end funds. We are hoping people will still choose to donate (they are still eligible for the incentives we offered during the Kickstarter campaign) and support this cause. They can donate at http://thetigerhunter.com/How_to_Help.html or contact me via that page for how to send a check. Every dollar truly helps and helps us get this film off of the ground.
Thank you so much for doing this, Lena! Any final words?
No, just excited to get this going and happy to have spoken with you. If anybody wants updates on the film, I hope they sign up for the mailing list (don’t worry we don’t spam!) at http://www.thetigerhunter.com .