Actress turned director Heba Salah is the latest Brunel graduate to make a name for herself in the Film and TV industry. Brunel alumni are currently working across the industry at all levels from runners to newsreaders and reality tv producers. With the success of her film, Incubus, Heba, who graduated in 2022, has joined the ranks of successful Brunel directors. Here’s her story.
I started as an actress then 4 years later I became a content creator and filmmaker. I achieved a First in my film and theatre degree, whilst also taking on independent freelance work. 2 years ago, I opened my media production company, Heba Productions. I’ve directed, filmed, and edited many types of video content including short films, experimental projects, multimedia installations, and live events including promotional material for Social Media.
Incubus is my latest short film.
Incubus is a paranormal horror film. I grew up lovingly watching horror movies on DVDs from around the world, especially ghost stories. I was primarily inspired to create Incubus by watching the 2011 Egyptian TV series, Doors of Fear (Abwab El Khouf), and Jinn (2019) a Jordanian Netflix series - horror stories about jinn who would appear in the form of normal humans. I wanted to present jinn stories from my culture and create horror with a psychological and dark approach to close relationships and betrayal, much like Get Out (2017), Run (2020), and The Others (2001).
Challenges & Awards
Incubus began as my graduation film. At the time it was a step up for me, and I learned a lot of things from my supervisor, the executive producer and lecturer, Niki Ashby. She provided essential inspiration and feedback that helped shape the film. The circumstances of some of the team withdrawing before the completion of the project led me to develop many new skills and push my own boundaries.
During preproduction the producer/cinematographer, couldn’t fully participate due to ill health, and twelve hours before shooting, he had to withdraw from the project. Hence, I took on these roles alongside my directing and editing. I had to proactively plan the shooting and multitask in order to meet the project’s schedule and deadline.
Taking on those challenges has paid off. Incubus won the Film and Television Special Project Prize at Brunel University 2022. Then it went on to win a Best Editing Honourable Mention at the London International Monthly Film Festival 2022, and now, Best Female Director at Cinemaos Film Festival 2022, London, UK.
You can watch Incubus above or you can view Heba’s Showreel here: https://youtu.be/EQS_mJkgca0