My internship experience at SOC Films

There have been few experiences in my life, that have impacted me the way, my time at SOC films has. Pursuing film, has been a long-standing dream that seems nerve twistingly far? It’s hard enough believing in yourself and no matter how much confidence you feign, sometimes you need a hand to stretch itself out and say, go for it! Dream bigger!

I came to SOC films, knowing that I wanted to pursue film but scared, that I wasn’t good enough. In Karachi, what value does a story have? I had no technical knowledge and I was fresh A-level graduate, when I joined the internship program.

It’s hard to believe that I found myself, in a pile of transcriptions and subtitles. Some interviews were a mechanical process of recording, lines of dialogue in correspondence to time codes but others moved me, they showed subjects beyond the victim-victimizer lens, these people, were resilient and their stories were powerful. I was keen to note, the interview process, from the style of questions being asked, to the way scenes and subjects were framed.

Transcriptions were just a stepping- stone and the work quickly paid off, as I was pulled onto research and other administrative tasks. It wasn’t just the work, that pushed me to grow, it was the team that made up SOC films. Everyone on the team, had their own personal narratives and their own style of teaching but they were all models of people who took the plunge and worked with commitment, to refine their skills. I had never looked at people as role models till my internship.

My second summer at SOC, I decided to take all the skills and knowledge, I had accumulated and shoot my own documentary. It was great, SOC films acted as my supervisor and I was able to earn 5 college credits as a fieldwork internship. The producers helped me with characters and gave me feedback on my interviews, while the cinematographer and editors gave me feedback on technical aspects. I interviewed people from all walks, to find leads and characters.

Going into the colonies of Karachi, and finding my own stories was high stress but it was a blast! It really pushed me to improve the technical aspects related to my work and threw me out of my comfort zone, in the best and worst possible way. The team at SOC films, was without the doubt, the best support network for my project.

This summer, I was able to shoot and edit a short 2 minute promo for SOC films, in addition to various other tasks. I received feedback from Sharmeen, the editors, the cinematographer and sound. Everything from content, lighting to the kind of music I wanted to use, was a learning curve.

Coming back to SOC, always makes me grow, I measure myself against the people who make up the team and I realize how much I still have left to learn. To date, there has never been a time, when my internship has not pushed me. I have gained a lot from the work I have done, the team and the other interns, all of them, have been remarkable. I am still quite nervous, when it comes to film, I constantly question whether I am good enough, but my internship stands as a personal reminder, to dream big and work hard.

— Eleyna Haroun


My Internship Experience at SOC Films, Karachi, Pakistan

Although I’m a third year student of Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, Journalism and Communication continue to be my passion . I find that my interests and dreams keep changing. At the beginning of the spring semester 2012, I took photography as one of my independent courses and through the lens, I explored the religious harmony that exists in the city of Chittagong Bangladesh. As the interest in photography grew day by day, I wished to get an internship in a media related company and looking for an opportunity that met my interests. However, by the end of the semester, I decided that I will enroll in summer courses at AUW and will not try for any internship. While I decided to stay back, the internship opportunity at SOC Films was announced and I immediately changed my mind.. After I was accepted, I started my internship over here in Karachi, Pakistan in the beginning of June 2012. In total it lasted for two months but the days went by so fast that it truly feels like it has been only been a few days.

Interning at a film company gave me various exciting experiences; I felt every day was an adventure. I obtained skills in transcribing, photography, blogging, writing, researching, and field tasks at shoots. I was able to explore different facets of production and the process of professional documentary video production which included commercial video production and a health related documentary. I also had the opportunity to gain overall production exposure, from pre-production through production and post-production. In addition, I have enjoyed researching on topics for proposals, for example, polio in Pakistan, child marriage in Pakistan, and other research such as super heroes in comics, animated movies in Pakistan and many more. The best part is that I got to research topics that I was interested in, which made me enjoy the process more.Besides, the most interesting and enjoyable tasks for me are taking photographs of behind the scenes, accompanying staff and crew on shoots, logging video archives and assisting camera man and other staffs as assigned – such tasks encouraged me to network with different people from different departments.

Moreover, I have really enjoyed the friendly and relaxed atmosphere at the company and the wonderful people I have worked alongside. Whenever I got stuck with my assigned tasks, I discussed my problems and findings with the staff and received advice and feedback that always helped me and gave me new energy and motivation. It also made me realize that although I have done few other summer projects and internships in Sri Lanka and India, the internship at SOC Films in Pakistan has been the most rewarding of all. I have really learned many different things in a short period of time.

At the end, I found that the more I’m passionate about the organization’s mission and feel excited about the work that I’m doing, the more I feel happy with my days. I’m sad that I have to leave this place very early but I’m grateful and confident that I have learned a great deal and have added a valuable experience to add to my resume. Eventually, the decision I made to give up my summer courses and come to Pakistan to do this internship is the best decision I have ever made.

My experience at SOC Films

Being a liberal arts university, Asian University for Women (AUW) encourages its students to do internships every year in various sectors. In today’s competitive job market, internship and volunteer work are very crucial to gain real world job experience and thereby AUW has been exposing its students through internships. For almost four years, I have received opportunities to do internships in various organizations such as developing agencies and financial institutions in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Last year I was honored an internship with Industrial Promotion and Development Company a financial institution in Dhaka and currently I am working at SOC Films, which is a production company in Pakistan, spearheaded by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy. Sharmeen’s work is mostly based on human rights and women’s issues. She has been putting her efforts into raising the voices of marginalized communities and highlighting the issues which assist to break boundaries and focused on challenging viewers. Some of her documentaries include Saving Faces, Pakistan’s Open Secret and Pakistan’s Taliban Generation, Afghanistan Unveiled, Transgender, The New Apartheid and many more films are aired on various channels abroad. Sharmeen’s work and the motive of the company really inspired me to work wholeheartedly, as I have always been interested in social service.

During my internship at SOC Films, each day I experienced and learnt something new and important. As most people do when starting a new job, I felt overwhelmed with the influx of new information. I enjoyed doing research on various social issues including polio in Pakistan, political situation of different countries, unsung heroes of Pakistan, animated movies, and footages of old Lahore city, jazz and orchestras musicians of 1950’s and 60’s in Pakistan. The most fun part was going out for shoots with the production team where I took photographs of settings behind the scenes, which were scheduled for that day. Along with it I also got opportunity to observe selection process of subjects for documentaries who were courageous enough to talk in front of camera. Indeed, I loved to learn subjects totally different from my major, Politics, Philosophy and Economics, that were related to documentary films including viral campaigning, media tracking, creating a blog, transcribing videos, test screening of animatics and much more.

Learning at SOC was really fun. It could be because the staff treated their interns as they would treat a full time team member or permanent employee and part of the reason was due to the welcoming, cooperating and assisting team members. The atmosphere of the office was positive, energetic and fun. Everyone has been fantastic and welcoming to us and it was an atmosphere where ideas were fostered and feedback was welcomed.

Overall, the internship was a good chance for me to realize and understand myself and my interest along with making me familiar with job life. The aim of the company really motivated me further to work for society and gave me the idea that I can also do something positive for my community. Currently, the company is working on a six part documentary series called Ho-yaqeen. The purpose of this series is to show the importance of individuals’ efforts and to pass the message that everyone who desires to make a difference in their society can make a difference. It shows the struggle of six individuals across the country who brought change in their communities. The series is really inspiring and it encouraged me and made my desire of social service further stronger and firm. Last year, I did work with a company which is the first private sector financial institution in Bangladesh, but I felt that it was not according to my taste and desire that I have and always wanted. However, the motive of SOC Films really inspired me and I found myself more interested to work in developing agencies and other non-governmental organizations.

At last, a piece of advice that I want to share is to utilize every second given to you in your internship properly. As long as you take advantage of every moment, you will leave with an entirely new group of friends, even more memories that will never fade, and absolutely no regrets. Therefore, we should use an internship as a learning opportunity, not only just an opportunity to gain real world experience.

Music in Pakistan

Pakistan is home to various genres of music such as classical, sufi, ghazal, qawwali, pop, rock and hip hop. Unfortunately, many inhabitants condemn the idea of music. Yet, despite this, there have still been several notable personalities who have expressed their passion and contributed to developing the Pakistani music industry. Noble people like Hassan and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan played a great role in putting Pakistan on the map in terms of classical music. Moreover, we cannot ignore the global recognition earned by Junoon and Vital Signs as well as singers like Atif Aslam, Amanat Ali Khan and Ali Zafar. Pakistan has a very rich cultural history of music such as in the case of “qawwal bachhe dehli gharana” which goes as far back as 750 years. However, musicians rarely get any form of recognition or encouragement from the government to promote their talent. According to my knowledge, Pakistan does not have have a school of music. Therefore, I feel it is not only important but necessary to preserve music for the next generation by introducing classical music into the curriculum of schools, both public and private.

Like most of the youth in Pakistan, I had little interest in Pakistani music, and instead showed more interest in the music produced by Hollywood and Bollywood. While interning at SOC Films Company, I was assigned to find musical footage from Lahore, during which I discovered amazing work that Pakistani musicians created by fusing classical music with hip hop, using traditional instruments. Being exposed to the biographies of many well-known musicians who were the predecessors of our modern artists was a fascinating learning experience for me. However, it was tragic to learn that many talents were dismissed due to reasons such as lack of presidential support, absence of good institutions or companies, and so on.

Yet there still appeared to be some hope. In the early 2000s, with the explosion of the media in Pakistan, young artists were given the opportunity to showcase their work. Television channels emerged and fresh, new faces came to the limelight. Coke Studio launched a new style of music by merging classical and western vocal styles, combining qawwali with bhangra and fusing ghazal with rock. This fusion of all elements from different cultures, with traditional and modern techniques being amalgamated, produced a unique, new sound.

I think we should preserve our rich and diverse culture of music by opening more government-run institutions, so that our youth can become familiar with musical traditions. It is through this that awareness can grow among the new generation. We have several musicians linked with the rich history of Pakistan so we ought to exploit this treasure which we have not done until now. It is particularly important to do so in a country which hosts such precious talents and people, and it is very necessary for the government to take the initiative to uplift these musicians who have so graciously uplifted Pakistan.

A Hope for a New Life

The day when I came to know about the Indus Hospital, I was overwhelmed, knowing about its completely free treatment available to many Pakistanis who do not have access to high quality health care across the country. Indeed, it might not be very meaningful for many affluent families, but for almost all indigent Pakistanis it is equivalent to giving a new life to them. The moment I heard about totally free medical service, the grieves, sorrows and the suffering due to lack of proper medical facilities of helpless people of my town, back in the North corner of Pakistan, flashed across my mind. I know I could not help being a student, but their anguish always reminds me of helping those needy people. On that day, I was delighted to see amazing medical facilities and very advanced machines which we can only find in very expensive private hospitals.

After research, I came to know that the Indus Hospital is a multidisciplinary hospital and currently the services are being offered to inpatients and outpatients. Some of the varieties of services available in the hospital are nephrology, urology, cardiology, infectious diseases and many other treatments are offered. Besides this, the hospital is well equipped with very modern instruments with other facilities such as angiography suite, dialysis unit, advanced interventional radiological setup, tuberculosis lab and many other facilities. Amazingly, “it is the first paper less hospital established in Pakistan” with a very friendly hospital management information system developed in-house.

A couple of days back, being an intern at SOC Films i got chance to visit the Indus Hospital with some members of the production team in order to take interviews of some female and male nurses as well as doctors who were willingly ready to talk in front of camera. We were there to make a documentary about the hospital aiming to show it to its donors. The facilities and the systematic arrangement of everything such as medical records really impressed me and I found that along with free medicine and medical treatment, even food is provided to the patients.

Before getting the opportunity to visit Indus Hospital, I had no idea about the hospital. My lack of awareness reminded me of really needy Pakistanis living in very far corners of Pakistan who might not have any idea about such an amazing opportunity.

I recall the story of a girl who lives very close to my home, she is knowingly counting the last few years of her life while all her friends enjoy life carefree. Remembering her sickness my heart ached but with a big hope, a hope of getting her back to normal healthy life. In the beginning, the disease was not very serious. But due to various reasons including lack for financial resources, staying very far from city facilities, and being a woman without any male support,  she did not get treatment for 17 years unknowingly and 6 years after knowing about the disease. So, after 23 years of sickness, the common disease has become worse and worse.

Like the case mentioned above, there are many cases where poor people remain in danger of losing their lives, often because they have lost hope. In such kind of hard situations, the Indus Hospital is a hope for many poor citizens of Pakistan to recover from various diseases ranging from small illnesses to large operations.

On that day, after coming back from the Indus Hospital, I called some of my friends and known people telling about the hospital and about its highly good resources available over there. I suggested informing other people as well who do not have knowledge about the hospital. That day, I was really happy, I got a kind of inner satisfaction and I felt as if I had done one of the most important tasks of my life. I felt very proud my own country.

A day at the INDUS hospital

“The most important asset one can possess is his/her health, the second one is knowledge”. Right now, while you read this post, there is someone who is getting admitted or discharged at the INDUS hospital. Thousands of people are getting treatment at the Indus hospital, a symbol of hope for the most vulnerable members of the society that provides “health and excellence driven unconditional medical services to humanity, only to please Allah”. It is Pakistan’s first paperless hospital where the cost for treatment is entirely free for every citizen. The establishment of Indus hospital came into reality when a group of doctors, donors and businessmen came forward and pledged support for the disadvantaged communities in Karachi;however, patients come from all over Pakistan.

Fortunately, as an intern at SOC Films, I had few visits to the Indus hospital with the production team where I could witness the reality. I saw numerous patients at the hospital. People who had traveled to the Indus hospital from various cities, taking several hours and days long trips, to get treatment. I found that the treatment and supportive care for every patient is equal and fair. In fact, the Indus hospital uses modern and advanced medical equipment as well as medical practices. I observed that the quality of care delivered at Indus is the same as other private hospitals that I have observed so far. In addition, it is very important to understand that staying in hospital can be stressful, so a professional and friendly staffs make a huge different in the recovery process of patients. Indeed, the medical professionals around Indus hospital are dedicated and friendly and try
to make patients feel comfortable.

Besides, having gone with production team for shooting, I had a chance to see the screen test before the final shooting as well as the interview process for health related documentaries. As a matter of fact, shooting and listening to patients , who have gone under severe medical condition, is difficult. I remember the moment when a patient was sharing her life story, she started crying during the shoot. Even though I did not understand the language completely, I was able to feel from few words that she has been going through a dreadful journey in her life. My eyes were filled with tears and I held them back and forced myself to smile at her so that she would feel comfortable in continuing the process. In spite of her distressing life events and emotions, she cooperated with the production team to finish the shooting successfully which also made my visit to the Indus hospital meaningful.

Faith for Pakistan

My experience at SOC Films has been one of growth and learning. What started as a one week project for translation from Pashto to English, stretched on to a two month internship. The majority of my work consisted of translations and transcriptions, but far from being limited to the desk, I have been involved in a large portion of the field work. Moreover, the work environment at SOC is one that promotes professionalism and creativity. I began my internship in May and within the first few days, was off to Peshawar for the filming of the next episode of Ho Yaqeen, the new documentary series that showcases the unsung heroes of Pakistan working for social reform. From what I had seen of Ho Yaqeen previously, it was touching and thought provoking, but nothing could have prepared me for the actual exposure of working with these heroes on the ground.
My two trips to Peshawar were inspirational, to say the least. Although my main task was that of a translator, I was involved in all areas of the production and got a hands on experience of how the job is done. My understanding of all aspects of film-making was refined, including handling the camera and bringing the entire project together. From working with juvenile heroin addicts to filming in the most forgotten slums, I realized how beautifully intricate the process of creating a film is. There will be hurdle after hurdle, but the drive to send out a message takes us to the very end. It opened my eyes to the harsh realities of the world we live in. I saw what the masses of our country must live with everday and how that story almost always remains untold. But the most overwhelming, was the strength displayed by each individual I came across, young and old. It showed me the bravery of the human spirit fighting against all odds, which is what Ho Yaqeen is all about.
I have been privileged to be a part of something so great. My experience here has built an excellent foundation for my future career in the media and everything I have learnt here is what I will carry forward with me and cherish for a long time to come.