Arts & Culture News

Filmmaker Said Abusaud Shines a Glowing Light on Minority Artists

Said Abusaud (center) with the cast of his upcoming film Don't Delete the Kisses.
Said Abusaud (center) with the cast of his upcoming film Don't Delete the Kisses. Adrian Peace
When Said Abusaud first launched Afterglow Photography in 2015, he wanted to give Dallas a facelift through its arts scene, putting diverse artists and subjects at the forefront. Over time, as Abusaud began to venture into film, Afterglow Photography became Afterglow Gallery, a production studio where he collaborates with members of Dallas’ creative community.

While Abusaud says photography fulfilled his creative needs at the time, he knew film was his ultimate calling. As a child, he made home videos with his sisters. When they were done recording, the budding director would watch the finished product and figure out how they could’ve shot the video better, analyzing potential angles and lighting.

Tired of seeing the same things and people in movies, Abusaud created Afterglow with the intention to highlight a diverse range of talented LGBTQ+ people and people of color. In his work, Abusaud says many of his concepts come from dreams and trying to interpret their symbolism.

“I have a notebook that always stays beside me,” Abusaud says. “Here and there, an idea will pop into my head, like a dream, and I'll write it down. I don't know what it means at the time, but I'll write it down. And from there, I've always just been able to expand.”

Abusaud says that he is more drawn to independent films than he is to big budget films, which is largely why he mostly works in Dallas with local talent.

“I've always had this theory that independent films are more based out of love and for the sake of acting,” Abusaud says, “rather than big budget films, where actors are more like ‘I'm not going to act unless you give me $2 million.’ And I've always felt that independent films really focus on the core of the story. Because just like anything in life, there's always a message.”

This Saturday, Abusaud will premiere a short preview of Don’t Delete the Kisses at 8 p.m. at Electric Feels Studio. The full-length film is a continuation of Abusaud’s 2019 film Pucker Up, which tells the story of a young woman traveling between two worlds and trying to figure out which parts are a dream and which parts are real life.

While the full-length version isn’t set to premiere until October 2022, Abusaud hopes the 10-minute teaser will spark conversations about mental health.

"I feel like there’s always been a common misconception with my brand, that it's just dark, moody and mysterious,” Abusaud says. “But in reality, it’s quite the opposite. I feel like more than anything this movie instills hope and instills coming together.”

Abusaud's vision of is evident through his casting choices. The cast and crew is made up primarily of local talent, including actresses Christina Gaines, Jeslin Joseph, Carine Rice, and musicians Sudie, Dezmond Walker and the band Nite.

“Said is a dedicated and loyal friend,” says Myles Mendes of Nite. “He’s not out for himself and his own projects. He always wants to serve others to the best of his ability. That’s what I love about his vision. We’re grateful to know and work with him.”

"His vision is one that is very unique and has depth. Depth in the sense of meaning and purpose within oneself — an artistic mirror of truth.” – Artist Dezmond Walker

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“Said is very thoughtful and meticulous within his approach when it comes to film,” adds Walker. “You feel his passion when he directs. His vision is one that is very unique and has depth. Depth in the sense of meaning and purpose within oneself — an artistic mirror of truth.”

A scene for Don’t Delete the Kisses is set to film in Dallas next month, and it'll be the last scene filmed before pausing production and resuming filming in January 2022. Then, Abusaud says, he plans to knock the rest of the film out within the first quarter of the year.

The director has other visions, mainly of landing on streaming platforms, but whether or not he takes a deal will be contingent on whether he can bring his team with him.

“I promised [my team] that hypothetically, let's say one day, I'm in the office, meeting with Netflix,” Abusaud says, “and they say 'We love your stuff. We've looked over it, we'd like to sign you, but we only want to sign you, we don't want to sign the others.' I know money talks, and so forth, but that doesn't mean a thing to me. Loyalty, honor, and love are the three most important things in my life, more than anything.”
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Alex Gonzalez has been a contributor to the Dallas Observer since 2018. He is a Dallas native whose work has appeared in Local Profile, MTV News and the Austin American-Statesman. He has eclectic taste in music and enjoys writing about art, food and culture.
Contact: Alex Gonzalez