A 20-year-old filmmaker from Harrow has teamed up with BAFTA winning actor Adam Deacon to create a short YouTube movie called ‘Built to Be’.
The movie was created by Akash Prasad, a young man living in Harrow who stars in the movie as an actor as well as penning the short social drama himself. The movie has been viewed over 72,000 times already and is starting to really gain some momentum. You can see the film here https://youtu.be/3ITuZHXeJdA
Harrow Online spoke exclusively to Akash about the film…
If you had to describe the short film in a nutshell, what would you say?
“A young carer with prospects of getting into a prestigious university must contend with caring for his chronic-patient father and overcoming his new found dependency of marijuana. This is a film that demonstrates how easy it can be for a young person to become reliant on a substance just to cope with the struggles of their everyday life as well as some of the devastating effects living with Fibromyalgia can impose on a person’s life.”
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, how long have you lived in Harrow and what school did you attend? “So, My name’s Akash Prasad. I’m a 22 year old actor and writer, I was born in, and lived in Harrow for most of my life. My mother was born and raised in Fiji and moved to England when she got married in 1991, my father is Australian born but grew up in Harrow for most of his life too. I have quite a lot of family overseas and was quite blessed and fortunate enough to travel back and forth to these different countries during my upbringing. If I had to say, growing up surrounded by and exposed to other nationalities and cultures greatly shaped my world view and creative sensibilities.
“I went to the primary school Earlsmead in South Harrow, I left in 2009 moving onto secondary school where I studied at Queensmead, in the Hillingdon borough. I also stayed on at Queesnemad sixth form college to complete my A-levels in 2016.”
What inspired you to write ‘Built to Be’?
“It was definitely a combination of different factors I think, all of them coinciding with the hope and aim of raising awareness on the condition fibromyalgia, which is explored in the film through the protagonist’s father in the story who suffers from it. As well as Fibromyalgia, I wanted to highlight struggles that could happen behind closed doors and outside of school life. It was also an opportunity for me as an actor to showcase a different side to myself and my range.
“We wrapped filming just over two years ago now and I begun writing the film when I was 19. I knew I wanted to challenge people’s perspectives, especially towards young people and substances like Marijuana, showing how easy it could be to develop an addiction when compensating for other issues going on in life.
“The topics explored in the film were all very much reflective of situations and people that I’d been around during my upbringing. As a writer and even as an actor, I do like to draw from real life experiences however I can because of the authenticity and rawness that comes with it, however I see these as factors to strengthen and reinforce my creative imagination. Built to Be is a social awareness film, and I do think of myself responsible for being a voice for my generation and an advocate for unrepresented struggles, be them societal or worldwide issues. I wanted to tell a compelling and heartfelt story that was unbiased, yet at the same time, informative and inclusive towards other nationalities and South Asian culture, something I felt was lacking in the Industry at the time I wrote this film”.
What parts of ‘Built to Be’ were shot in Harrow?
“So quite a lot of the film was shot around locations I was quite familiar with, Scenes with the Jewellery shop took place in Hayes, the school scenes were split between a secondary school in Ealing and an office location in Hammersmith, however we have a doctor surgery featured in the film which was filmed in Harrow courtesy of Simpson house medical centre who were kind enough to allow us to film one scene in there, even during working hours! The house locations and residential streets we see in the movie were all shot within the South Harrow area, in terms of film logistics, it made sense to have a lot of our locations closer together for ease of access and better utilisation of time spent shooting.”
“From my experiences growing up in Harrow, I knew how beautiful some of the streets could look during the Summer, and I think shooting in Harrow really helped to enrich the cinematography of the movie.”
How did you cast the movie, did you hold auditions for the roles?
“Being an actor predominantly gave me the advantage of going through my contacts before any official sort of casting took place, I wrote some parts with actors in mind, for Instance Adam Deacon as Mr. Lynch was a role I hand picked even before I was confident we’d be able to pick his interest. I knew Adam’s look had changed and audiences hadn’t seen him in a role such as this one so I wanted to break any sort of typecasting and stigma that may have been following him around.
“Alex Esmail plays a supporting role appearing in the first scene of the film as the drug dealer Amon. People may remember Alex from the 2011 UK Sci-fi film ‘Attack the Block’. I’d met Alex through the world of independent movies and honestly, he was kind enough to help me out as a friend by jumping on board and playing a small part in the film.
“Samantha Okan who plays the role of Kim, was someone I’d met a few years prior and I knew I wanted the opportunity to work with her because of her immense talent and beauty. I felt like we very much clicked the first instance we met. Balbir Sudera who plays my father in the film, I met through doing extra work years ago when I first started out in the acting world, I knew Balbir owned a jewellery shop and I’d seen few bits of him acting before and there was definitely potential, that being said myself and our director Irene Maffei made sure everyone was competent with their parts, through auditioning our actors anyway. With the help of platforms such as Mandy Network, Starnow and facebook, we were able to cast supporting roles that needed filling through the use of self tapes.”
What is the main message your are trying to put out with the short film?
“There’s definitely a few different messages I think people will be able to take from this film which for me is one of the biggest joys of being a writer. The main message I would like people to take from this film is to try and be more understanding to situations people could be going through. Everybody has a battle to face behind closed doors, in the case of Built to Be, it’s battling with the chronic illness Fibromyalgia and a student’s reliance on marijuana to cope with the normality of his everyday life. I also wanted to advocate how important it is to speak up if and when you need help instead of secluding yourself to deal with your problems alone. I think this is an especially important topic for men as well as the film centres around a father and son from a background where talking about one’s problems openly is not widely encouraged, nor accepted.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I have a few other projects in development I am hoping can be engineered on a larger scale, I do have my eye set on making feature films at some point. Until then, I’m currently working on shorter format stories to pilot these ideas. One of them is about a rapper with a large online following who still works a day job in retail. I’m also working on a fantasy concept film written in a Shakespearean narrative.
“Aside from that, I always keep myself open to as many new and exciting creative opportunities that come my way as an actor and as a writer.I’m a strong believer that art can greatly influence and inform one’s perspective, so I continuously strive to tell and be apart of compelling stories with the potential to provoke awareness and change where it is necessary.
“You can keep up with all of my latest projects and other endeavours through my various social media pages: It’s @officialaprasad on Twitter, Instagram and facebook. I hope you enjoy ‘Built to Be’, Thank you so much for the opportunity to have my voice heard as a young writer, I feel this is something the creative industry is currently lacking.”
To watch the movie, which we thoroughly recommend, please click here.
Harrow Online is a community development website working to strengthen communities in Harrow and surrounding areas. We work together with the local community to improve services, bring people together, build the community’s voice, and generally make the local community a better place to live.