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Meet the creative director and producer

From reading comics as a kid, to directing feature films and TV projects for Disney, Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull details why he loves the creative challenges offered by working in the media industry and why you should never be afraid to fail

Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull creative director and producer at HaZimation
Talk us through an average day in your role:

Well, I always like to start with going to the gym in the morning and then back at my desk with coffee. I go through emails and then start planning the day, usually dailies with the film production team and then play test the latest build of our games and metaverse projects and do a video capture of my session as I talk though my points and give notes.  

After that, I send the link to the team via our internal Discord channel, before getting into designing shots, sequences and gameplay design for our games as well putting pitches together for our next projects. I tend to do a lot of my designing and exploration directly in Unreal Engine, as it’s far more effective in communicating the shot composition, camera language, lens and tone, then that rough pre-vis can be taken way further with the talented artists I collaborate with.

From 5pm onwards, I tend to catch up with the execs in LA on current and projects in development.

How did you get started in the media industry?

I started off in video games back in 1998 when I was still at City University in London; I did a one year placement at a games company called Deibus Studios working on games like Motocross Mania, and doing anything and everything I could learn about 3D, animation etc.   Then from there I ended up working at various games companies including Codemasters and Kuju Entertainment doing game cinematics.  

Around 2005 I decided to stop mimicking filmmaking in video games (little did I know I would be doing exactly that in 2020!) and go into film VFX as a compositor at companies like MPC, Passion Pictures, Partizan and then became a visual effects supervisor working on set and in studio on feature films and TV shows, before becoming a VFX producer.  

I was also creating my own short films, before being approached by Hollywood agents and Managers. One short – Project Kronos – landed me a manager in Hollywood as well as a film development deal. After several writing development deals with studios like Fox and Paramount, I decided to produce and direct my first feature film – THE BEYOND (edited and post entirely in Davinci Resolve) which ended up being released by Gravitas Ventures in 2018 and was number two in the iTunes charts next to Bladerunner 2049 and Wonder Woman! This led to me directing my second feature film, 2036 Origin Unknown with the lovely Katee Sackhoff. I then got hired by Disney to helm the pilot and episodes on the mini-series FAST LAYNE

I then set up the production company HaZimation with my business partner Paula Crickard, and we are now busy producing our own IP in animated feature films, video games and metaverse content.  Today, we’re in post production on our animated feature film, RIFT.

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I spent a lot of time as a kid reading comics and playing video games and reading tons of material. I always loved learning new things, but I didn’t have any formal training in using 3D apps or photoshop or editing. I learnt those myself at home doing little projects and then showing them to people before eventually reading content online in VFX and CG forums, receiving feedback on my work and reading tons of tutorials in magazines and websites.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

There’s a million reasons why I love working in this industry, but the main one is that every day is a new creative challenge to tell exciting stories, and I get to collaborate with different people all the time. When you meet those people at events, it feels like we are all connected in what seems like a small world and yet a huge industry!

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

The big advice I would give is to stop talking about wanting to make films or games and just do it! 

There is no reason why you technically couldn’t make something today, because we have amazing tools like Unreal Engine and DaVinci Resolve that are free to download and use, there is so much knowledge by amazing content creators out there on YouTube etc. Added to this, the hardware is more affordable than ever – and hell, you can even shoot a 4K movie on your iPhone!

The other advice is don’t be afraid to fail. I have failed tons of times creatively, technically and even business decisions, but at the end of the day you learn from those experiences and makes you even stronger and better at what you do.