My name is Hasan Oswald and I am a filmmaker who made the documentary film HIGHER LOVE in Camden, NJ with no professional experience, no budget, and no crew. Using YouTube to learn all things film and selling my blood plasma to make ends meet, I somehow pulled off a zero-budget Indie hit. My film HIGHER LOVE is now available across all North American cable/satellite Video on Demand platforms. International release coming soon. Ask me anything!


Website with trailer:

Instagram: higherlovefilm (



Comments: 781 • Responses: 102  • Date: 

lablaga778 karma

Do you feel a little icky about buying and using equipment and then returning it on day 29?

Edited for clarity

hoswal01604 karma

In retrospect, I do. I always kept the gear in perfect mint condition, (it was usually a computer to edit) and I stopped doing it towards the end.

lablaga362 karma

I don’t mean to make you feel badly, I just wondered because I would’ve let that problem hold me back. What you created is probably worth feeling a little icky. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

hoswal01206 karma


hi_im_vito85 karma

I used to work at Best Buy, screw them lmao. Plus now your stuff is open box which is good for savvy customers.

hoswal0130 karma

Perfect haha!

zakuropan65 karma

thank you for not avoiding the tricky questions.

hoswal0174 karma

I feel like it wouldn't be an amA without :)

wendaly-4 karma

I got a refund after watching your documentary, don't worry I kept it in mint condition - not really an acceptable excuse? Especially if you're profiting from it.

You've committed return fraud.

hoswal0124 karma

Thank you! I'll be sure to repackage for the next viewer ;)

NicklePhilip729 karma

Do you have concerns about the footage you shot being used against your subjects for legal purposes? Custody battles, arrests, etc? Not just the finished doc, but all the additional raw footage as well being subpoenaed and you having to testify? I ask because I have worked on projects that that has happened on.

hoswal01669 karma

Great question. I can't get too in-depth but it was certainly an issue we were concerned about and ended up dealing with in post. There is a lot of creative leeway with docs and filmmaking in general, but we had a lot of work to do after our "film first, legal later" approach.

NotSomeSuggestedname320 karma

Was there any "fuck it, I quit" moments you had or any realization that came to you before you decided to quit?

hoswal01676 karma

I fell through a factory roof pretty early on. Luckily my tripod got wedged in the hole and I didn't go all the way through (30 foot drop onto rebar). There were some moments where the pregnant character in the film is using every drug under the sun. Those were tough as a filmmaker/human. But I never really got close to calling it quits. I think I pushed a lot of stuff to the background, choosing to deal with it later. Which I am now, for better or worse.

hoswal01578 karma

Oh. I read that wrong. Quit teaching?

Yeah. I was accepted to a teaching program here in NY and the whole process really turned me off. It was a huge money-suck, leading up to an even bigger money suck. And while I loved teaching abroad, I became further disillusioned with the US educational system my first few weeks into the master's process.

Landvinninga35 karma

Interesting. I fell in love with teaching in the US then became disillusioned with it in SE Asia. Came back to America and went back to teaching for a while before I just wanted to travel more.

hoswal0130 karma

Interesting. What turned you off in SE Asia?

klop203130 karma

Why were you disillusioned?

hoswal01154 karma

How teachers are treated in the US. How I was about to spend 100k+ just to be able to teach. Many more things.

goldenshowerstorm55 karma

NY teachers are paid based on experience and the union has created high barriers to entry to protect themselves from an over supply. It's a good job once you have the time in, and most have a second side hustle for the summers when you're not working. The trick is working in a bad school and then keep looking for a sweet deal in the suburbs. Six figure salaries are attainable in NY for teachers, which is unheard of in most of the US.

hoswal0139 karma

Good to know! Thanks. Maybe ill get back into the game if this falls apart ;)

MovieNewsJunkie165 karma

Hi Hasan! I came across your interview on No Film School just a few weeks ago. I'm a big fan of theirs, just like you.

Question: Are their any other sites dedicated to film that you like to follow?

hoswal01113 karma

Hey! Yeah, I learned so much from the No Film School / Indie Film Hustle type outlets. I'm also constantly on publications such as Indie Wire and Metaflix for my daily film fix.

dimaltay135 karma

I'm not even an amateur filmmaker but how did you even learn it all from youtube alone? There's so many stuff to consider when filming. From formatting, color, lighting, sound recording to post production etc. It seems overwhelming in terms of knowledge and expenses.

KindlySwordfish174 karma

As a professional filmmaker, when it comes to documentaries, it's the editing that makes the movie. The other stuff is good to know, but if you want to make a documentary, learn the editing and visual storytelling stuff :)

hoswal01112 karma

Totally agree. A background in even basic editing will help you immensely.

pizzafest26 karma

or a wonderful editor 🙃

hoswal0144 karma

Yes, that's THE most important part. Our editor Kait Plum was all in from the start (before we had a budget) and really came up with something special.

hoswal0196 karma

Yeah it was a lotttt. I think that I learned more on the ground, just doing it, than anything else. I taught myself editing first, using mostly youtube, and then started my film, learning on the fly.

However, I wouldn't say it was overwhelmingly difficult. Sure I made many mistakes with sound, lighting, lenses etc etc, but the end product barely shows any of these. So I would say it's easier than it looks on paper.

dimaltay31 karma

Incredible stuff. Bonus points for courage to do this all without knowledge.

What about violent addicts? I mean there are some addicts below rock bottom that you can't even communicate. Did you encounter any and if so how did you avoid? Other more reasonable people around helped you?

hoswal0166 karma

Thank you! I never had a single bad experience with addicts, where my personal safety was ever in question. Needle pricks, stepping in holes, sure...but I was never robbed, jumped etc.

I also learned how to spot and avoid these situations. It was a small city and an even smaller drug community, and I was generally well-liked and trusted within their circles.

highjinx41117 karma

Yeah addicts are people. I have met some aggressive ones I guess you could call them but they are usually too busy just surviving to do any harm. I think that’s the point of your documentary right? To view addicts as people which they are. I am a recovering addict so I kinda know. I have met some very intelligent, beautiful people who also happen to be addicts.

hoswal018 karma

Spot on. It's a slice of life film that hopefully causes the viewer to see be a little more patient and a little more understanding to those suffering from addiction.

rubmahbelly82 karma

Hi, I am interested in watching this. Apple store says it’s not available in Germany. Are there plans for a release in Europe?

hoswal01100 karma

Hey, thanks for the support. Yeah, we are only live in North America but will have our worldwide release within the next few months. If you follow us on instagram (higherlovefilm) we will announce soon.

_EleGiggle_23 karma

Why does it take months to make a YouTube video available in Europe?

hoswal0124 karma

That's what our distributor decided. It's pretty common and we had no say in the matter.

yorkshirenoodles75 karma

I am looking forward to watching this; it sounds absolutely fascinating. Post Industrial America is an interesting topic in itself, and I saw below it is what led you to the film's subject: the opiod epidemic. What did you teach befor you quit? I am guessing High School History? (I used to be a Lit teacher; 12 years).

hoswal0193 karma

Good guess haha. But I was a second grade English and Math teacher in Thailand and then Spain.

I've always had a (morbid?) curiosity with crumbling factories and cities. I'm not sure where it came from but this urge to explore a decaying Americana was certainly heightened by living overseas for seven years.

yorkshirenoodles13 karma

Ah that's cool; I taught in Vietnam (Lit and Drama) and Phuket (same subjects, both private British international schools) and am also now back in the West. Coming back to the UK after being abroad does make me view it differently. Sometimes I feel like we are witnessing a decline of the West, or at least a significant socio/economic shift (think I read China's Asian Dream and then Prisoners of Geography in close succession and this has contributed somewhat to me thinking this too).

Anyway, all this is to say I look forward to watching the film as it sounds very interesting and well done for getting it made and out there!

hoswal0112 karma

Well said.

Yeah, I taught in Phuket also (not BIS though). Life was too good...had to get out while I could ;)

Thanks for the support!

titivillus_was_here47 karma

Trailer is fantastic! What were your first steps to finding the people featured in the film? Were they pretty open to being recorded?

hoswal0196 karma

Thank you!

I didn't have any choice but to just walk down the streets and knock on doors. The motel scene at the beginning was the first day I met "the group" so they were pretty candid from the start. They all provided me with an incredible amount of trust and eventually it was almost like they didn't even notice me sitting there with a camera after a while.

I think for a city like Camden, and especially for those suffering from addiction, they feel ignored/forgotten and the camera finally gives them some agency back.

T98hSp4SwIq2dg0Mmnv745 karma

How do you feel about the fact that the entire documentary has already been uploaded to Youtube for everyone to watch for free?

hoswal0144 karma

The range of emotions reading this post was incredible.

T98hSp4SwIq2dg0Mmnv723 karma

So since it evoked emotions in you just like any other form of art, would you say trolling is a art?

hoswal0121 karma

Oh, I see, I see.

Yes, certainly. I audibly gasped, then smiled.

Any-Refrigerator-96643 karma

What made you decide that this was a story you wanted to tell/explore? And has it changed you as a person and how you view the world?

hoswal0174 karma

It didn't start out as a story about the opioid epidemic, but rather the fall and fallout of a post-industrial America. So that was what I originally set out to explore.

What I witnessed and filmed has changed me a good bit, of course. I've learned to be a little more patient and a little more empathetic towards places like Camden and the people who are struggling within them.

Any-Refrigerator-96628 karma

I'm interested in watching your documentary when it's available in Australia. Here is Australia, when the government launched a "war on drugs" campaign, it backfired and saw a significant rise in meth use and addiction. I believe documentaries like yours helps us all understand what could be done to help those affected, instead of enacting policies that sound like a good idea.

hoswal0133 karma

Thanks for the comment. Totally agree. The War on Drugs here in the states has been a complete and devastating failure, as seen in cities likes Camden. We should release in Australia within a few months. Thanks for the support!

Any-Refrigerator-9666 karma

Looking forward to it! All the best on your current and future projects.

hoswal018 karma

Thank you!!

1SecretUpvote2 karma

It's funny how far reaching the affects area of the opioid crisis and how many people just don't see it or understand. I live in Dayton Ohio so I am too familiar with the issue, our overdose numbers were staggering.

I'm looking forward to watching your video and have a lot of respect and emotion just for the title alone. I think we need videos like yours are invaluable and probably what we need to see whenever these speaking about these places and people.

Frontline did a documentary on our city not long ago and I was really disappointed. I think we need to have more understanding and call one another to a higher love for our neighbors.

hoswal012 karma

Thank you for your comments, I couldn't agree more. I hope to shine a light on these issues whether it's in Dayton or Camden, Flint or Gary.

And yes, I hope that we are all able to look at these cities and people with a little more patience and a little more empathy.

space_monster35 karma

if I rent this on Prime (AUD $5) how much of that do you get?

hoswal0142 karma

I'm not sure of the exact numbers because they differ from platform to platform. I would guess about half of that when it's all said and done.

Indie filmmaking is expensive, even when you do it like I did. Expensive and full of companies/people trying to take advantage.

beetusmellitus16 karma

Have you considered offering your film through something like gumroad?

Might be able to capture more of that revenue that way

hoswal0117 karma

Always up for new ways to sell my stuff. Can you explain gumroad briefly?

funfilledfun32 karma

Are you from NJ?

hoswal0161 karma

I was raised on the NY/NJ border (on the NY side) so sort of. My father and that whole side of the family is from Camden though. Most still live in the Cherry Hill / Marlton areas.

funfilledfun34 karma

What made you decide on Camden and not let's say Patterson or Newark?

hoswal0154 karma

Yeah, great question. Those cities (and many across the US) are struggling in similar ways...especially Newark. I think hearing stories of Camden growing up is what originally planted the seed. It was a touch of morbid curiosity for sure. And once I got there and met the amazing people I decided to stay for the long haul rather than turning to another city/episodic.

valiantjared23 karma

Camden isnt even that bad these days though compared to wilmington or north philly

hoswal0141 karma

Yeah. Spent a good bit of time in Kensignton north Philly. It's pretty bad up there.

akro2521 karma

Kensington is hell on earth at a level most average people in America just can’t comprehend.

hoswal0137 karma

So true. We got out of the car, after a year in Camden, and were stunned by what we saw. Very sad. A lot of good people doing amazing work there so hopefully they can get it turned around.

dropsofneptune5 karma

Rockland? My neck of the woods and certainly they had their share of drug issues.

hoswal016 karma

Yep! Spring Valley! I'm NYC-based now though.

dropsofneptune5 karma

Oh man, next documentary on what's going on in East Ramapo school district! Orangetown for me.

hoswal013 karma

Amazing idea. Yeah...bad, bad stuff. Co-production with me?

funfilledfun28 karma

Do you have any plans on doing another documentary? Would you base it on drug addiction again?

hoswal0171 karma

I'm currently wrapping up my next film on the Yazidi genocide and coinciding ISIS captives still missing. I've been filming between Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and Syria for the last year.

I would love to explore the subject of addiction in further films and Higher Love is currently being turned into a narrative.

K--Will26 karma

Okay, as an unmotivated artist with a lot of ideas and a comfortable job, very simple question:

how did you motivate yourself to leave comfort and pursue what you felt was important, and how did you maintain that motivation for long enough to complete the project?

hoswal0130 karma

I left Thailand and then Barcelona because I was getting too comfortable with my life as a teacher in these amazing cities.

I can't really explain the motivation that first set me on this path but I knew that I had a lot in me that wasn't being utilized and/or explored.

I've maintained that push by having a giant chip on my shoulder, provided by an industry that insists on you paying your dues, inching up the ladder and constantly telling me there was no way I could make it as a first time director with no experience.

K--Will12 karma


You got...justifiably mad, set out to prove them wrong, and did.


I guess I need to find something to prove ... Thanks for answering so frankly.

hoswal0130 karma

Oh, I also got dumped. So go get dumped, it will give you some "I'll show you" juice.

K--Will15 karma

Ah hah! Ahhh. I can relate.

I started a theatre company last time I got dumped, then got with a new guy too soon who ruined the fuck out of it.

Stay single, get mad. Interesting anecdotal experience.


Can't wait to watch your docu, dude.

How do I do it in a way that gets you money?

hoswal019 karma

Hahahah great stuff.

Amazon, Apple TV..any of those VOD options really. We get the same-ish cut from all.

Thanks for the support!

hoswal016 karma

So...anger? haha

ikevintruong22 karma

What do you think about Drug Decriminalization proposed by Andrew Yang to combat opiod epidemic? See

hoswal0133 karma

Absolutely agree with Yang and the Portugal model.

Punkinprincess22 karma

I do a lot of volunteering with harm reduction in Oregon and we just decriminalized! I'm really excited to see the effects it has here.

hoswal0114 karma

Yes! Go Oregon! Hopefully others will follow (if it works).

sickbeautyblog22 karma

I wish I could get someone interested in the same type of project but from the perspective of chronic pain patients that this heroin/fentanyl crisis is damaging. The war on drugs is really just "we figured out how to make money on both ends of the equation." The number of CPP's driven to suicide after having their meds taken or involuntarily tapered is way bigger than people think.

One thing I experience often is being treated like a drug seeker in the ER when I'm having an attack of pancreatitis. Did you encounter many people trying to work ERs for drugs during filming, or was it all stuff coming in from other countries in the form of fentanyl or fentalogues?

hoswal0113 karma

"we figured out how to make money on both ends of the equation" is really a great way to put it and so true. Might steal this for a future screening Q+A ;)

Do you mean someone suffering from drug addiction trying to work the ER / healthcare system in order to get drugs?

sickbeautyblog6 karma

Yes, and also people faking injury in order to get pills to sell.

I typed out a longer explanation but don't want to clutter your q&a with my depressing story. Enough to say even when you have a documented history of a very painful disease, going to the ER is a lesson in learning to suffer silently at home next time.

hoswal017 karma

I would love to read it, DM me if possible.

Thanks for commenting.

rakisak15 karma

Whats the craziest thing you saw?

hoswal0136 karma

A single episode doesn't come to mind. Lots of ODs. Thousands of injections, drug deals, etc. Little old me was SHOOK the first few weeks filming.

I fell through a factory roof once (the city timelapse in the film was just before this) and luckily my tripod caught on some shingles, probably saving my life.

rakisak30 karma

I ran the streets for years. Never got into heroin but most my "friends" upgraded to that while I was in the joint. One thing that stuck with me was when this dude overdosed but nobody wanted to help him because they didn't want to get in trouble. They just wanted to leave. He would of died. I managed to get him to the park then used the pay phone to call 911 and dip. He was saved. This was 20 years ago. Dude ODed few years ago but least he got some more time.

hoswal0111 karma

Well done.

Yeah, this happened often in Camden, unfortunately.

AjTheWumbo15 karma

Super cool story! How much income would you guess selling plasma brought in? Did you just crash on someone’s couch while filming?

hoswal0126 karma

Yeah, my extended family is still in the area (we are originally from Camden)so I crashed with my uncle most of the time.

Plasma brought in about $100 per week. Enough for food/gas, a drone, and a few lenses.

You_Need_Jesus_JD8 karma

Did you return the drone, too? No judgment. Just curious.

hoswal0126 karma

Drone #1 met its demise in a fiery wreck in the old paper factory.

Drone #2 had too much damage to return.

thelongernow14 karma

2 part question:

What would you say to doc filmmakers trying to find a good story to follow and get involved with? I’ve been trying to start with smaller projects, but would hope to get more involved with a long term or feature length project at some point. Just haven’t been able to find any great starting points.

Have you ever had a project you wanted to work on so badly but it just fell apart, for one reason or another? What did you do to learn from that?

hoswal0120 karma

I'm not sure where you're from but I don't think you need to embark on some huge, breaking news story as a starting point. The opioid epidemic is barely in the news anymore because everybody and every publication have put out something on it. So in that sense, I was late. I think what made my movie successful was the story and characters that were projected onto a backdrop of the epidemic.

I'm new in the industry so thankfully both of my projects (including one I'm wrapping now in the Middle East) have been a "success". I am prepared for a project down the road to go belly up though, as that's the nature of the biz. And I'm sure I'll be heartbroken haha. As filmmakers, we invest so much time, money and heart into these stories and characters.

thelongernow3 karma

For sure! I didn’t mean to generalize a story to be some big piece. I usually prefer slice of life approaches with story telling and letting others do their thing.

I’m over in Chicago so narrative/commercial stuff is dead in the water right now. Been trying to find individuals/groups to help with my work/tools. Usually the best stories unfold on their own and it’s always a pleasant surprise to be there when those surprises happen.

I appreciate your advice! I only hope for the best for your future work and success!

hoswal013 karma

Yeah totally get that. Tough times in the film world. Especially indie. Thanks for your questions and good luck with all :)

paradoxofchoice13 karma

I see you used a A7Sii. Did you ever have any overheating issues? How many batteries did you carry with you? How was your audio capturing experience?

hoswal0120 karma

Oh man, at first yes!! So many lost clips due to overheating. Some things I used that seemed to help: I updated the firmware and filmed with the screen extended away from the body. I changed the batteries out when they became warm, even if they weren't done yet (I carry 8). I kept the battery door open.

But I still have them occasionally when I film in hot places. I'm in Iraq finishing up my next project and it's happened a few times. For audio I used a shitty Rode for most of it and had a LOT of work to do in post. Now I use the Rode Vid Mic Pro+ and it's a dream.

BernieTheDachshund8 karma

Do you cover how this opioid epidemic has affected chronic pain patients? I see a lot of folks on Twitter who can't get pain meds. I'm talking about cancer patients, people who've had hip replacements, chest surgery, etc. The DEA has doctors scared to prescribe meds and it has resulted in some cruel deprivation of even a 3 day supply of opiates. Those who suffer from debilitating pain on a regular basis have been cut off or forced to undergo spinal shots to get them.

hoswal0111 karma

That is an aspect that I didn't realize until recently, during our festival run, when someone brought it up.

One of our characters (Tye), started using pills after she was shot. That then turned into street drugs when she couldn't afford her medication any more.

So while the film doesn't cover it, I will certainly do some digging into how the epidemic is effecting those with chronic pain.

vitalidol887 karma

How much do you love that Steve Winwood song? Bring me a higher love, ohoh

hoswal0110 karma

That's actually where the title came from haha. It was our credit song until you know, they wanted a lot of money.

Outsiderx117 karma

Hi , I wanna shoot a documentary regarding the how is the life of the homeless during the pandemic in İstanbul but I don’t know where to start with the interviews (how to even get them accept an interview ) And I have no gear other than my phone . Is there a way I can solve these issues ?

hoswal0112 karma

Hey, what an amazing idea. And an amazing city! I've spent a lot of time in Istanbul.

That's exactly where I was at when I had started. No gear or experience. I would find someone you would like to interview and approach them without a camera of course. Tell them that your working on a project about ____and you were wondering if you could learn their story.

I learned early on to fake it till you make it, so don't tell him it's your first time doing this, or first time with a camera. Exude confidence and it will make you both more comfortable.

If he/she says yes, use your smartphone as a camera, get a tripod and a friend's phone for external audio. If it goes well, rent some cheap gear the next time around.

Outsiderx114 karma

Thank you , I have been entering shit ton of camera giveaways so I could solve the gear issue but could win one . And yeah it is a beautiful city with beautiful people.

hoswal019 karma

Most iPhones shoot in 4k. I use one for some shots on my current film. Good luck!

tasker_morris6 karma

Since Higher Love, do you find more professional filmmakers or indie filmmakers lining up to work with you? Or has it remained a bit of the same?

hoswal0114 karma

I have been approached by a few big producers/networks who want to work with me on future projects. I'm currently wrapping a film in Syria/Iraq/Turkey about the Yazidi genocide and it's a co-production with well-known channel.

Pretty surreal. None of this happens without Higher Love of course.

tasker_morris4 karma

Yea congratulations for sure. How did you get hooked up with John McDowell? It’s just a surprising pairing to see an established name working with a new filmmaker.

hoswal016 karma

John is the man! And an old friend of the family. His doc "Born into Brothels" was the first doc I ever saw. My parents dragged me to it as a child and I hated it. Now its a favourite.

John is a legend and a musical genius. His score for this film couldn't be better IMO.

wefly5 karma

What kind of camera did you use?

hoswal014 karma

Sony A7sii with mostly 24-70mm Zeiss.

Shy_Cowboy5 karma

Most questions have been directed towards your film, but I wanted to ask you about your experience with teaching. What's the story? What made you go into teaching, and then what made you leave the profession?

hoswal0110 karma

Ahh a nice film break ;) I graduated from Villanova with an English degree and writing/journalism concentration. I had no idea what I wanted to do so I moved to Thailand to teach and fell in love with it.

I continued onto Barcelona and then back to New York, where I had been accepted at Columbia Teachers College. However, I quickly became disillusioned with the program itself and the education system as a whole in the US. Mostly, I couldn't picture putting myself 100k in debt to be treated as poorly as our educators are and to be in a system I didn't believe in any longer.

martusfine4 karma

Perhaps this is addressed in the documentary but how was the support from the family and have their views changed with your major life choice now that your work is being recognized?

hoswal0110 karma

The family I filmed with? The people I filmed with were all super supportive of the film, and remain so to this day. Daryl (protagonist) especially.

My family? Always supportive. Couldn't have asked for a better support system throughout 3 years of no income and being in a good bit of danger.

root884 karma

What award did you win? It seems like every movie ever made has some award attached to it.

hoswal018 karma

Slamdance Film Festival: Grand Jury Award Best Feature Documentary

2x Brooklyn Film Festival: Spirit Award, Best New Director

2x Flicker's Rhode Island International Film Festival: Best Feature Documentary, Best editor

Crossing the Screen International Film Festival: Best Feature Documentary

Atlanta DocuFest: Best Director

Stony Brook Film Festival: Spirit of Independent Filming Award

whatsupdate3 karma

That is an amazing trailer! Much more gripping than most mainstream Hollywood trailers with insane budgets.

How did you get past your fears and doubts to dive in without a safety net and try to make this vision a reality?

hoswal018 karma

Thank you! I backed myself into a corner on purpose and didn't give myself a plan B.

A lot of people in the industry scoffed at me and wouldn't even give me an internship. I used that chip and continue to use it to this day. And I got dumped, so I got that "I'll show you" boost haha.

SilverGlow113 karma

The trailer looks great and I'm looking forward to watching this! As a fellow Sony user, I'm curious.. what picture profile do you shoot on?

hoswal013 karma

PP 7! With S-Log assist on. Thanks for supporting.

SilverGlow112 karma

PP 7 is S-log 2 gamma, right? I'm just about to start filming a documentary (one man crew, run and gun style) and I'm torn between shooting in Log vs shooting with one of the Cine profiles. Did you ever run into the typical Log issue of noisy shadows?

hoswal012 karma


My colorist (who did an incredible job) told me to keep shooting in Log because it allows him more flexibility and creative license.

TAMilliona3 karma

Well, this looks amazing! Are you looking for work right now or are you busy? I'm working and looking to invest into consciousness projects that highlight things that are generally not brought to our awareness.

This includes

  • Where does our trash go?
  • Effects of cell phone usage
  • Microplastic

And so on. Open to any and all ideas. Well funded.

hoswal018 karma

I'm currently wrapping up my latest project in the Middle East. DM me though, these sound interesting.

mdgraller2 karma

What city was it? You somehow neglected to mention it in your blurb and I’m feeling dickish

hoswal013 karma

Good catch. Camden, NJ.

pr0v0cat3ur2 karma

Hello Hasan, Did any of the addicts ask that you pay them? What was their incentive to allow you into their lives?

hoswal012 karma

Certainly, especially at the beginning. We would help them with gas money, food, etc though.

I think the incentive is that it's a chance to share their story. And of course, to be in a movie.

hoswal015 karma

Improving, possibly.

Continuously one of the country's most dangerous cities for the last few decades? Without a doubt.

anonoman9252 karma

Why did you quit teaching?

hoswal017 karma

Copying from another answer:

I graduated from Villanova with an English degree and writing/journalism concentration. I had no idea what I wanted to do so I moved to Thailand to teach and fell in love with it.

I continued onto Barcelona and then back to New York, where I had been accepted at Columbia Teachers College. However, I quickly became disillusioned with the program itself and the education system as a whole in the US. Mostly, I couldn't picture putting myself 100k in debt to be treated as poorly as our educators are and to be in a system I didn't believe in any longer.

codecduck2 karma

Very inspiring! The hardest part for me is when we have to get the film out there.

How did you plan for release?

hoswal012 karma

Thank you!

We knew we had a great film but getting it out there was really tough for us as well. We didn't really have a plan or any money, so we just blindly applied to the major fests and got lucky with Slamdance. I would NOT recommend that to any first-time filmmakers.

BBBEADA2 karma

Any advice for someone looking to get into documentary making? / insights from the film biz ?

hoswal017 karma

Don't let the film industry and their "pay your dues" bullshit scare you off.

Just go do it. Learn the basics, buy a camera, find a subject that really interests you. What's the worst that can happen?

Be careful in this indie film world. Lots of leeches and the likes who want to milk you out of every last dollar.

Sumuttaja1 karma

Hi! Have you seen Lost Boys? documentary about Finnish opioid addicts?

Any toughts on that or the earlier film from the same director: reindeer spotting?

Any toughts on these? Im eager to see your film as well, it's important that these documentaries are being made all around the world to spread the knowledge about this terrible disease.

hoswal011 karma

I have seen it. Or parts of it of both.

I will have to watch again and see what thoughts I have. But I remember being inspired by his access and raw verite style.

mmmmmmmkate1 karma

Do you think you’ll ever return to teaching? I’m interested to know your thoughts on if/how you’d return to the profession.

hoswal012 karma

My mom wants me too that's for sure.

I absolutely loved it and would consider it down the road as a part-time gig possibly.

0nTheHorizon1 karma

which camera did you buy?

hoswal012 karma

As7ii. Still my go-to

ImageMirage1 karma

Very inspiring story bro. Three questions please:

1) Do you have any recommended links that you personally used to acquaint yourself with the fundamentals of filmmaking? Links to “editing movies” would be great but I’d love to know where you picked up lighting and sound tips etc.

2) Based on the knowledge of filmmaking you now have, what advice and tips would you give to your younger self if you could go back in time? Specifically to save him heartache with mistakes that could have sunk your project?

3) If you won the lottery and could go off and shoot your dream project with a dream equipment list what stuff would you buy and what film would you make?

hoswal013 karma

I'll come back to this when I do some digging into my youtube faves. I don't know if I have a favourite, as I would just type in things like "what is peaking on A7s?" or "what's the difference between frame rate and shutter speed?"

Off the top of my head Matt Johnson is amazing ( and NO FILM SCHOOL was probably my go-to podcast/website/forum. Check out Indie Film Hustle podcast as well. Alex Ferrari is the man.


My dream equipment list is pretty basic, as I like to film everything myself, run and gun style. I would say Sony fs7, top rode mic, and the newest Mavic drone. And for what project? I'll have to think on that as I'm currently wrapping my "dream" project ;)

rapescenario1 karma

Wow dude. Amazing. Super inspirational.

What is the music/song used in the trailer?

hoswal012 karma

Thank you.

It's an original score by the amazing John McDowell. We are working on getting the soundtrack onto spotify.

phamedits1 karma

How did you deal with getting it into festivals or what was your process of distribution like?

hoswal013 karma

That was certainly an experience. I was a first-time director and our small team was also pretty green, so we were unable to play the politics/name game. So we did blind submissions to the A/B tier ones and crossed our fingers.

Luckily we got into Slamdance and won the grand jury and it all snowballed from there. We also got a distribution deal at Slamdance.

CynicClinic11 karma

Hello fellow Rockland native!
What steps do you think we collectively as a society need to take to curb such rampant destructive drug use?

hoswal013 karma

Hello hello Rocklandite (is that a thing?)

It's obviously a very complicated subject with no simple outs. But briefly, I would push towards a system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punitive measures. See Andrew Wang's proposal or the model Portugal implemented ten years ago with incredible results.

chemEmomma1 karma

I’m so excited to watch this tonight with my husband. He grew up with a lot of exposure to the hardened real world and I was incredibly sheltered. Ironically, I used to attend Junior national rowing regattas in Camden in high school, so I’m incredibly nervous to see what was just streets away from my polished times in the city.

Now for my question: has your worldview shifted negatively or positively (or not at all) based on your experiences? We’re you exposed to the challenges others faced or were you more sheltered as a kiddo?

hoswal013 karma

I was not sheltered as a kid at all and grew up in a pretty nomadic way, being exposed to many different cultures/peoples and their struggles.

So while these new experiences no longer shift my perspective all that much, I love that I work in a field that gives me the opportunity to share these stories and people with others, such as yourself and your husband.

Make sure you get back to me after the viewing with what you thought ;)

jacksont81 karma

Im a teacher myself and am curious, did being in that profession influence/inspire your drive to make this documentary and, if so, did it aid in your ability to make such a successful documentary?

hoswal013 karma

Yeah, I taught adults (night class) in Barcelona and that really helped me down the line with confidence in interviews. If you believe it, they believe it.

I don't think the teaching profession lead me to doc film but teaching abroad and the travels that ensued certainly opened my eyes to other cultures and made me even more curious. And I started making travel films with one of the first go-pros, which was probably the original seed that brought me here.