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Farah Idrees: ‘Being a producer is all about bringing the vision to life’

Photos: Callum Walker Hutchinson; Makeup By: Ruth Black

In 2015, Farah Idrees moved from Saudia Arabia to New York City for school.

To show the world that there is more to Arab women than what’s in the media, she makes decisions aligned with her vision. As she attended NYU, in her third year, Idrees interned at 300 Entertainment. In a matter of months, she elevated from Production Assistant to Associate Producer. Some works that appear on her résumé is Young Thug’s ‘Slime Language’ album visualiser, 300 Entertainment’s episodic series ‘BRKRS’, Cinematic Music Group’s ‘Follow My Recipe’, ‘Trap Trivia’, and ‘Cuffin Season with ABG Neal’. On the music video side, she’s worked on Abby Jasmine’s ‘Groovy’ featuring Guapdad 4000, ‘Coneheads’ and ‘Poland Springs’.

Idrees is working on her debut short film called ‘FARASHA’.

GRUNGECAKE: What was it like to intern at 300 Entertainment? What kind of tasks did you complete? Were they in relation to your video interest? If yes, how did it help?

Farah Idrees: I’ve always been interested in visuals and storytelling growing up. Working at 300 Entertainment was my first time really diving into video production on a professional level. I worked alongside Xavier Andrews as an Associate Producer on several projects—two of my favorites were definitely the eight-episode series ‘BRKRS’ and ‘Young Thug – Slime Language Visualizer’. Working there helped me really just understand the basics of everything and how it all works.

GRUNGECAKE: You’ve worked on so many music videos. For those who aren’t familiar with your work, describe it in 3-4 sentences.

Farah Idrees: Hm, in short, being a producer is all about bringing the vision to life, while making sure the director’s creative vision stays intact. I handle everything from pre-production which includes location scout, hiring crew, budgeting, etc… to post-production, making sure everyone is paid, equipment is returned, budget is closed. It’s truly a magical process in a sense because I’m given a script or a treatment and it’s my job to actualize it from the team, from the set, to the screen.

GRUNGECAKE: What was it like growing up in Saudi Arabia? When you relocated to America, what was that transition like?

Farah Idrees: Growing up there instilled immense drive in me. I wanted to do so much, not just for myself, but for Saudi women. I’ve always wanted the world to see us as more than what Western media portrays. We’re complex, we have stories, and ideas that are important and necessary. And I think it was access to digital space and growing up with the internet that made me feel like I had ‘access’ to the world. I knew there was so much more out there that I was just dying to explore. So, relocating to America wasn’t difficult and it wasn’t a culture shock, it’s almost like I prepared myself to just dive in and get to work.

GRUNGECAKE: Would you say there was a fair representation of women in your role when you were growing up?

Farah Idrees: I didn’t know many female producers or directors growing up. I knew I loved storytelling, music and just being creative, but somewhat repressed it to fit something that was ‘safer’. I didn’t know or see any female producers or directors and in a sense that’s what later made me want to be that person even more.

GRUNGECAKE: What are some music videos you watched as a child that you enjoyed? Do you think the visual helps to sell the music?

Farah Idrees: To be honest the first music video that I ever remember watching a child was famous Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram’s ‘Ah W Nos’ which is pretty interesting. My family would have music channels on all the time so I was introduced to music videos through Arabic music first. My dad is a huge Michael Jackson fan so ‘Thriller’ was also one of the first music videos that was beyond impressive to me. I think music visuals are important because in a sense you’re really bringing the music to life, you’re translating sound to scene and that will always be exciting. Artists always accompany their lead single or follow their most popular single with a music video for a reason. A good music video will always elevate an artist and it’s also something that the fans are always excited for. Good music will always be good music and it doesn’t need a good visual to sell, but would a fire music video help? Yes, does it help in marketing/translating an artist’s world? Absolutely.

GRUNGECAKE: What are some key tips you can give to fellow creative people during this time? What can they do to get them through this quarantine?

Farah Idrees: I would say keep creating. There will be terrible days and there will be good days, it’s most definitely not a linear journey. I’m no painter, but at the beginning of quarantine it was rough trying to accustom to quarantine and the shift of everything, so I started messing around with painting and doodles, if anything, it was a great stress-reliever. I had to push myself everyday to create and I focused a lot on writing as well from poetry to a script for a short-film that I have in the works.

Another critical tip I think is practicing self-care. It’s so important, and we don’t encourage it as much as we should. A lot of the times for creatives, (more so recently) comparing their progress to others on social media or wherever, can really be the enemy. I say detach every now and then and focus on yourself, especially in a time like this. There’s a lot going on in the world, make sure you are doing ok, whether it’s praying, meditating, journaling—remember that if you don’t take those days to prioritize yourself, your body will choose those days for you.

GRUNGECAKE: When you first read/heard the name GRUNGECAKE, what came to mind?

Farah Idrees: Honestly, I love sweets and I love cake so I just thought about how that would be a great name for any bakery to name their cake. There’s something so hardcore and bold about naming a publication ‘GRUNGECAKE’ though, here for it!

GRUNGECAKE: What’s next for you?

Farah Idrees: More work and more growing to do. I’ve produced two short films in the past year. I’d love to produce more, including my own in the next couple of years. I want to work with more Arab creatives as well. I’m so excited for what’s next because whatever it is, I’m ready for it.

Written by Richardine Bartee

Her unprejudiced love for people, the arts, and business have taken her this far. Join Richardine on her journey as she writes history into existence, one article at a time. Richardine is a member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs, and a GRAMMY U Mentor. She is the North American Press Agent and US Business Manager for Oxlade; Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

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