Hashim Javed thinks Canada is squandering some of the best film talent in the world.
“We don’t need to constantly follow Hollywood ten dollars at a time. We’re losing our artist base. Some of the best production talent in the world comes from Canada, and we could be using it here. But that’s not happening because everybody goes to L.A. We’re not supporting our own community,” he said.
Javed, a 25-year-old Pakistani refugee who already has an illustrious choreography and acting career behind him, has started Limitless Love Films, a non-profit dedicated to telling Canadian stories onscreen. He recently finished filming the trailer for their first film, Emissary from the Kingdom of Love.
“I’m at a place in my development where I want to be in a space where I can self-preserve more, be a bigger part of my creative process,” he said.
“The idea with this company is to be able to tell the stories which are our stories and are relevant to our culture and at the same time allow the development of artists through that.”
Emissary from the Kingdom of Love tells the story of Ali and Jack, two friends who embark on a journey along the coast of a BC-like fictional place.
“They meet a band of mystics. They’re monks with Ferrarris and cowboys who have spiritual practices. These are our mystics. They’re taken in as brothers, these two young boys, and are initiated into the band. They go through a road of trials and then they meet a character we’re calling the goddess.”
This female character is still being developed. Javed created the basic scenario for the film, but enlisted writer Kate D’Angelo to complete it.
“We’re still at the archetyping phase,” said Javed.
The creative team for the film is eclectic, with artists from a variety of disciplines joining the team. Recently Javed created a piece of stunt choreography for Scarlet Mary Rose’s burlesque, and recruited fellow dancer Morgan Sloss to appear in the movie.
“Morgan is awesome. She’s very natural, has a great stage presence that I knew would transfer to film. She’s a striking woman, very beautiful and she has the talent to back it. That’s important.”
Rounding out the cast is actor Pearce Park, who Javed describes as “extremely talented.”
Javed is bringing his own spirituality and experiences to the film. Originally from a Muslim family of the Sufi lineage, he has now created a personal belief system.
“I want to see, if there’s 40 billion people in the world, there should be 40 billion religions,” he said. “You have to go out there and create your own reality, your own spirituality.”
He was horrified by the religious violence and discrimination he saw growing up.
“My father sponsored progressive political parties, but the other side wanted a monarchy. That’s a relative term, but it was even worse than that. Like ‘you have a divine right to rule’ kind of shit. And that’s terrible because then you can’t have any free will,” he said.
Javed witnessed firsthand the implications of religious extremism when his uncle was gunned down.
“My uncle was a chemist and he had a store. He was no one. He just got shot for being a Sufi, that’s all it took. He had a baby daughter born a few days after.”
Javed’s family fled shortly after, when his father’s name appeared on a religious hit list, and eventually he moved to Montreal, Nelson and then Toronto. He recently completed the first year of his BFA at York University, and now he’s heading to UVic for his second year. He said he’s very thankful to have found a new home.
“It’s incredibly honouring to live in a place like this. In a sense there’s all sorts of freedom. There’s political will, there’s individual will, there’s a freedom that exists in all its forms,” he said.
He said his work will be human-centric, unlike much of the fare being produced by big studios.
“We see a white man’s story, a black man’s story, Bollywood, Hollywood. There’s a segregation in narrative that’s not relevant to our times,” he said. “Why people are going to see a movie like Hunger Games is because there’s something more profound in it.”
He wants his film to have a universal human appeal.
“A human-centric experience is possible everywhere. Self-transformation is not culturally specific.”
The film will be shot in two studios, one in Six Mile and the other near Slocan. They’re still searching for an actor to play Jack, ideally a male aged 20-25. The goddess role, which will be a female lead, will need to be played by a similarly aged woman. Auditions will be held in December.
“We’re looking for people who really want this, who really want to be part of this,” he said.
For more information, search for Emissary from the Kingdom of Love on Facebook.