Following His Art
Saleem Hadi’s passion and hard work has seen him soar to new heights of success.
It’s never too late to chase your dreams, just ask Saleem Hadi. Despite only discovering a passion for film-making in his 20s, it didn’t deter the SIM-RMIT Bachelor of Design (Communication Design) alumnus from working hard to fulfil his dreams.
Today, Saleem is an accomplished film director who has garnered many accolades which include the 2008 Cannes Distinguished Community Documentary Award for a short film. He also won Mediacorp’s Vasantham Best Director Awards in 2010 (short film competition) and 2014 (docu-drama series). In 2016, Saleem won the second prize in the Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition and his film is currently making its rounds islandwide.
Saleem’s success journey began when he enrolled in the design course at SIM GE in 2007 after pursuing a diploma in communication design at Chatsworth Media Academy.
“I’ve always been interested in design and colours and I was looking for a place that would allow me to hone my creative skills. I stumbled upon a SIM-RMIT programme brochure and the slogan on it ‘Think for yourself’ just struck me- this convinced me to enrol in the programme,” he shared.
While Saleem focused mainly on graphic design work during his course, he was always looking for new creative outlets to express himself. He took up film-making as a hobby. Saleem’s film-making dreams took flight when his former SIM GE lecturer, Ms Iris Koh, encouraged him to participate in the international Cannes film festival competition. Together with his two friends and younger brother, Saleem filmed a three-minute documentary on death. The film was put together on a budget of just $1.
He said: “I was inspired to understand people’s views on death after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which resulted in many lives lost. We went to the beach and approached people to ask them their views on death. We were turned away and shooed off because the topic was an uncomfortable one for some. We decided to compile all the responses that depicted Singaporeans’ take on death into a short film and submitted it.
“About a month later, we received an email from France. At first we ignored it thinking it was just a spam email. But a second email came in and we were asked to acknowledge it. We were so surprised and amazed that we won such a prestigious competition!”
This achievement gave Saleem the confidence to embark on more film-making projects. It also paved the way for Saleem to gain further recognition for his works.
In 2007, Saleem started BLACSPICE MEDIA SOLUTIONS, a media production company that specialises in media productions (short films/corporate videos) as well as media and arts enrichment programmes for educational institutions.
“The inspiration to start up a company came from my late father as he was a businessman and always advised us to stand on our own feet. My passion for contributing to the arts and cultural scene in Singapore also gave me the drive to start up this business,” said Saleem.
Armed with the same passion to educate and empower individuals with the knowledge of film and theatre production, Saleem later started the Singapore Indian Theatre & Film Explorers (S.I.T.F.E) in 2016. The social enterprise serves to bring people with a love for film and theatre together to guide and groom them; and to eventually provide platforms for them to perform and showcase their works.
One group that Saleem hopes to work closely with in this organisation is the ex-convicts. “I feel that this group of people should be given a chance to integrate back into society and one way to do this is through the arts. Many of them do have the skills and talents and I’m glad that many government organisations have come on board in support of this initiative,” Saleem added.
Having come a long way, he believes that his education in SIM GE has been instrumental in enabling him to accomplish his goals.
“SIM GE gave me a lot of opportunities to grow as a person, I learned how to be bold and try new things that I would not have tried and there were good staff who were always very supportive of me.
“The design programme gave me the versatility to express myself in a way I am most comfortable with and I think this was a very unique and beautiful part of the programme. I was also given many opportunities to cultivate my leadership skills during my stay in SIM GE,” said Saleem.
For those looking to ply their trade in the creative industry, Saleem’s one piece of advice is to “never stop believing in yourself”.
“Never EVER quit believing in yourself. Problems are everywhere and they are also your opportunities to shine. Be very, very observant of your surroundings as opportunities hide in places you least expect. Remember that in all that you choose to do, you are special and no one can ever replace you,” he said.
Posted online 01 February 2017