The clear-plastic cup of water trembled more intensely with every step. The once-extinct Tyrannosaurus reached the pair of SUVs, came face-to-face with their inhabitants and let out a thunderous roar.
Pakistan-born Nuh Omar watched the genre-defining, blockbuster film Jurassic Park in the theater as a five-year-old and knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life – direct films. Though it wasn’t the first movie he’d seen, it was the first time it really clicked that he was watching the creative work of another person. He immediately set his sights on filmmaking, and continued to develop his talents as a screenwriter in his teens.
Omar’s first feature film as writer and director, tentatively called Untitled Imaginary Friends Project, is set for release in 2017. The film’s groundbreaking plot is about the journey of an imaginary friend, and what happens to imaginary friends when children are finished with them.
“It’s a fun, journey movie, a fantasy drama, inspired by Pixar films and E.T.,” Omar said.
Monster in the Closet, one of Omar’s earlier films, was also inspired by Pixar. Omar wrote and co-directed the live-action fantasy film about a boy fighting a monster in his closet with Rebecca Hodges (Rust, Loves Me Not, The Usual Stuff).
Omar, a toy collector, was overjoyed to see his “toy characters” come to life as humans on-screen.
But Omar’s talents have stretched well beyond the childhood-inspired portion of his deep imagination. He directed Lazy Accident, a THX 1138 and 2001: A Space Odyssey-inspired dark comedy, with Justin Graniero (A.C.O.D.) and Michael Robertson (A Measure of Faith).
“The setup for the punchline was important,” Omar said. “We knew we had to approach the film with the mindset that this was satire.”
Thematic elements have always been Omar’s key to success.
“They are fantastical, surreal and aberrant,” Omar said. “My style takes the real world and mixes in the abnormal as if it was something ordinary.”
Omar’s use of nostalgia is another way the skilled director has hooked his audiences.
“I try to make each one reach out and connect with something in the audience’s past, something we all have in common,” Omar said. “That varies from project to project, but the sense of it remains the same across.”
Omar is undoubtedly a masterful director, but he hasn’t limited his talent to just the silver screen. He also developed a comic book series called I’m Here, which is a 12-issue project about a crypto-journalist named Jonas who tells the stories of urban myths and legends from their perspective.
Thematically, the comic book is about the disappearance of American values told through the eyes of an observer who is merely a part of a larger story arc.
“It’s a scary step,” Omar said. “I’m a comic book fan, but attempting to do one is surreal. It’s a very difficult feeling. I’ve never written a comic script, so the experience was enlightening.”
Like the Tyrannosaurus in Jurassic Park, Omar learned to thrive in a new, unfamiliar world. The multi-talented director and writer has undoubtedly earned his stripes on the big screen and in the world of comics.
“I hope that someone out there gets to enjoy a story, and become inspired to do something different as I was,” Omar said.
Omar’s forthcoming Untitled Imaginary Friends Project will release in 2017, and will unquestionably break new storytelling ground with its fresh spin on the classic concept of imaginary friends.