Soultrotter and the Art of Storytelling: Filmmaker Phillip Rachid

Starting with nothing but the motivation to break the mold, Philip Rachid established his alter ego-turned-filmmaking-brand called “Soultrotter” to create films that reach out and speak to the hearts of viewers. He takes Tempo through the steps that made him the filmmaker that he is today.

“I come from a Kurdish father and a Bulgarian mother, and grew up in Amsterdam. I have been performing since the age of five with the Kurdish group Awara.

“My parents divorced, in the years later and my grandmother would babysit me while she was worked at the cinema.

I would spent days watching movies in the old Art Deco 70mm Cinema Theatre in Sofia. That is where my love for cinema started.

Philip Rachid
Philip Rachid directing Mydubai short film “The Journey is the Destination” -2014

“Back in those days people would dress up to go to the cinema, applaud when the movie starts and when the credits roll.

All of that and that big screen was a magical experience. At home or even on our way back, I would reenact moments or scenes I saw.

“I grew up with my mum, who had two jobs to take care of along with my sister and me, so I spent a lot of time alone, turning our living room into my fantasy planet with LEGO and GI JOE dolls.

“In my teenage years I dropped out of the “Hotel Management at The Hague” after the first year to pursue my instinct and become a professional actor. Without any acting school or film school I applied for jobs and started working as an extra. I worked my way up to becoming an actor and I’ve played in award winning drama series and films.

Philip Rachid
Philip Rachid on the set, short film checking the frame.

“At that time all I wanted to do is break the stereotypes I saw on TV and Film. So In 2000, my alter ego SOULTROTTER picked up a borrowed camera and taught myself to film.

A friend of mine had a computer I would work and edit footage on in the weekend. I started documenting street art and culture. I was lucky to be able to have exhibitions and screenings around the world.

“This slowly developed into writing, directing and producing content for TV channels, like MTV and VPRO, a Dutch Children’s Channel.

Philip Rachid
Some of my early work was filmed with my 8mm camera.

Soultrotter became a brand that people contacted to get consultancy or to create content that taps into modern storytelling and communicating to youth through visuals.

“I went back to study writing and filmmaking at the Dutch Film Institute and at the Arab Film studio in Abu Dhabi, because I felt I was lacking some fundamentals in more serious character storytelling. This gave me the chance to learn, exchange and work with top notch professionals from the international film Industry.

Philip Rachid
Philip Rachid’s picture right after winning the Samsung/DIff short film competition – 2014

“But it wasn’t until I won the Samsung/Dubai International Film Festival – short film competition in 2014 – that I began calling myself a filmmaker. Until then I had never made anything which was actually shown in at a A-list Film Festival.

“Life is the biggest inspiration in the creative process and I always ask myself: “If you have the chance to share something with the world, what would that be?” For me it is about making films that leave a message, that make you think and that entertain preferably without being too explanatory. Hopefully my films will last beyond my lifetime and my future kids can watch them with pride.

Philip Rachid
Philip Rachid directing short Arab Film Studio film – The Moonlight Rider – 2014

“Breaking stereotypes and genre storytelling attract me. I have worldly experience and vision and I believe that to be something that’s unique to my film making process. I hope my work contributes to the art of visual storytelling.

“I have been blessed with people who see what I am doing, believe in me and even support me. I now have the chance to show my work to a bigger audience and to hear their reaction after the movie is finished.

“Many film makers inspire me. There’s Martin Scorsese, Akira Kurosawa, Takeshi Kitano, Sylvester Stallone, Wong Kar Wei, La Nouvelle Vague movement, Spike Lee and Yilmaz Guney, to name a few. All of these filmmakers made a significant change to the filmmaking industry during their generation.

Philip Rachid
Philip Rachid’s super vision portrait by Drew Gurian-2014

“I wake up, walk and fall. I learn, get back up and keep walking, express, create and go back to sleep. Like every artists, the beginning is hard, very hard and if you don’t have love, passion and endurance, you will quit.

You are alone and you will hear ‘no’ all the time. People don’t have time to listen to you or watch your work. That can be a very difficult time. Keep moving forward. I ask myself, ‘can you live without food for a day, are you willing to invest your development in film or you would you rather drive a car?’

“Not everybody will understand that process, some will even judge you for it. Nobody sees what you see. Nobody feels what you feel. It is your job to make your vision come alive.”

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