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Study Sci-Fi Filmmaking with Director Hasraf Dulull

We talk about indie filmmaking a lot here at RECURSOR because we know sci-fi storytellers and directors often create their own films as labors of love and passion. It’s not often, though, that we get to tell you about a course in science fiction filmmaking. So we’re excited to tell you about the new course from director HaZ Dulull (THE BEYOND, 2036: ORIGIN UNKNOWN) to help people go from just dreaming about making sci-fi to actually doing it. We picked his brain to find out more about the classes and HaZ’s unique approach to teaching and filming.

RECURSOR: What led you to offer a course on sci-fi filmmaking?

DULULL: I have always seen other masterclasses out there to do with filmmaking, and they were always academic based, which turned me off. The best ones were the ones taught by actual filmmakers who had made commercial projects, films or TV shows. So I always said to myself, if I was to ever create and deliver a masterclass, I would do it after having made a couple of feature films myself that have been released, to therefore lead by example and experience.

Hasraf Dulull on set of THE BEYOND, an interview on Recursor.TV

When I was telling people in meetings I was having at studios in L.A. how I made my feature films, the reaction I was getting from them was like they had just dived into filmmaking 101. They were impressed and fascinated with my process in how I was able to pull off high concept sci-fi films on tight budgets and schedules and yet look expensive, and also releasing them commercially and being successfully received.

What are some of the topics you’ll cover?

When I was researching for existing masterclasses or online courses as references, I found that no one was actually going through the entire process. There was specialized training in either cinematography, or VFX. 

But there wasn’t anything like how to break down a script and put a budget and schedule together, how to work with locations to make your film work, how to use visual effects smartly in production, how to prepare for marketing and delivering your film for distribution. None of these things were covered as a part of a general masterclass. So, all that inspired me to set out to fill that void with my masterclass series.

What can students expect?

I wanted the classes to not be a typical lecture-based set of videos, as in my opinion that’s way too academic and frankly boring, so I want to share my experience in making my indie yet commercially successful sci-fi feature films (like the making of THE BEYOND). Students will get an intimate and candid look into my process, kind of like a fly on the wall.

I also wanted the experience to be in bite-sized format, to keep the viewer engaged throughout and not feel like they have to invest so much time on each episode. I designed the episodes to be standalone so they can be watched in any order and any time.

Have you ever taught before, or is this your first foray into teaching?

I have given workshops at film festivals and conferences before, so I had experience on that side of things, which is why I was able to get a good grasp of what would keep the audience engaged and the topics that are attractive to both newbies and professionals in the industry.

How will this class help other filmmakers?

I truly hope this inspires anyone out there who has an interest in making films, or any existing filmmakers who are wanting to make the leap from short films to their first feature film, because diving into a feature film has a hell of a lot more steps and processes than short films. And this masterclass covers everything from pre-production to production and post, but also crucial processes which a lot of new filmmakers are not aware of, such as deliverables, distribution and marketing.

Hasraf Dulull and team on set of sci-fi film THE BEYOND, interview on Recursor.TV
Haz and his team on set

Do you have plans to teach other courses?

The reception of this masterclass has been great, and the feedback has been very encouraging. So, I plan on creating future masterclasses later on for things like pre-visualization and pitching, since I do a lot of that these days as a director. It’s something, again, that doesn’t really get taught in film schools or online courses.

I am also talking to various institutions, universities and film festivals about doing the live version of the masterclass, subject to my filmmaking schedule, of course. I encourage film or tech event organizers and institutions to reach out to me if they are interested in this.

Where can people find the course?

You can rent or buy the entire series via Vimeo On Demand. Pretty much every filmmaker or person who has an interest in content has a Vimeo account, so it made sense to use Vimeo on demand as the platform for this masterclass.

Do you have any upcoming film projects coming out soon?

A few months ago, I directed the bookend segment for the sci-fi horror anthology, PORTALS, released theatrically in the U.S. on October 25. It is now available on iTunes and other VOD. I am currently in development on a bunch of TV and feature film projects, as well as casting for LUNAR, the next sci-fi feature film coming out of my production company, HAZFILM, to be shot next year.

HaZ Dulull came from a VFX background before moving into directing and producing. He is known for his breakout sci-fi indie feature film, THE BEYOND, which was released by Gravitas Ventures and premiered at #2 on the iTunes charts before trending on Netflix. His second feature film 2036: ORIGIN UNKNOWN, starring Katee Sackhoff (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA), earned a limited theatrical release in the U.S. and is on Netflix (U.S. only). In television, he directed the pilot for Disney’s action comedy mini-series FAST LAYNE, and was also credited as creative consultant on the entire series. He directed three additional episodes when he wowed Disney channel executives with his vision for the 8-part series. Find more on his website, HAZFILM.