How One Filmmaker Is Helping To Pay It Forward After Harvey

Rescue boats no longer float past Ali Kashi's front door in suburban Houston, but he's still dodging debris on the pavement.

Hurricane Harvey blew through Ali's neighborhood weeks ago, and the work of rebuilding is just now getting started. The storm poured trillions of gallons of water onto the Houston area, flooding an area the size of Lake Michigan, and displacing entire communities of people. After the water drained out, people finally returned to their homes – only to find what looked liked a war zone.

“What happened here was unprecedented,” Ali recalls. “I personally witnessed and experienced the pain, sadness, and despair that came in the aftermath of the storm. This city has provided the backdrop for my life experiences, and watching so many people going through the same thing I am has been heartbreaking.”

In a time of disaster, his community rose to the occasion.

Amidst the swamped yards, waterlogged cars, and houses reduced to piles of rubble, the neighborhood had no choice but to come together. Ever since the storm wrecked their homes, Ali has noticed a new sense of community among his neighbors:

“People I’ve never met continue to come by our house and offer food, water, and a helping hand. I’ve seen my city stand up in the wake of this disaster and show what it looks like when people act human, and help each other. It has moved me to tears to be overwhelmed by all this generosity.”

Now Ali wants to pay it forward the best way he knows how... 

By making a film.

This fall, he’ll be one of 30 filmmakers to join us for Muse Film School. Along with 5 other filmmakers, he’ll be on the ground in Houston, working with the local community to tell a remarkable true story. 

“The shared experience of cleaning up and rebuilding is something unique and compelling,” says Ali. "It is this compassion for our neighbors that will help rebuild our community and the city as a whole, and I hope to highlight that.”

This is Ali's chance to help create a restorative narrative for his home state. He wants to bring an authentic, local perspective to a film that tells a story of redemption – of strangers coming together in times of tragedy to rebuild something old, but also to create something new.

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Ali is going to tell a story that inspires change.

Narrative filmmaking is a very powerful tool. It makes people take action, and see the world in a new way. That's why Ali wants to show people the goodness in our world, and inspire others with a film that brings people together. 

“I'm here living it right now," says Ali, "and I feel that telling this story is my way to give back and thank all the people who were generous enough to help me. I’ve been making my own films as a novice since I could hold a camera, and to have an opportunity to learn from the pros at Muse, and tell a story about my city is something special.”

We can’t wait to see the story that Ali and his cohort will create at Muse Film School, and the impact their film will have on the greater Houston community.

To learn more about Muse Film School, and how you could get one of the last available spots for this term or apply for next term, click the button below.