National Youth Film Academy Alumni Stars In Feature Film Polterheist

National Youth Film Academy alumni Sid Akbar Ali stars as one of three leads in feature film Polterheist, available to download and stream on Amazon Prime Video.

Polterheist, directed by David Gilbank and also starring Jo Mousley and Jamie Cymbal as leads, follows two gangsters who are given 72 hours to discover the whereabouts of a stash of drug money stolen by their boss. There’s only one problem… they just murdered him. Frantic to find the cash, the hapless criminals kidnap a psychic medium and force her to contact their dead gang boss. Unfortunately for them, they only succeed in unleashing an evil spirit bent on revenge.

We caught up with Sid about his experience playing Tariq in Polterheist;

Can you tell us a little bit about your character?

I play Tariq – he’s a sort of middle management when it comes to the drug operation in Bradford, and he works for his psycho Uncle Uday.

Tariq is ruthless yet endearing, but at same time very self-serving and only looking out for himself. I had a sense that he was someone who was stuck in the “family business” and couldn’t deal with the pressures of working for his uncle.

Tariq is very family oriented, he has a lot of love for his mum, which is shown in the film.

I wouldn’t say he was a bad person, just someone who lost their way and is trying to find a way out, but everything in the film is out of his control and the frustration of this leads to killings after killings.

Tariq was great to play – broody, bad, fun, and with a lot of swag, it felt good to play someone who is really shady. But at the same time, I could relate to him. Not in terms of conquering the world with drugs, but the sense of being trapped somewhere where It feels like you are just coasting through life and watching it go by.

Tariq was someone who I would see in and around of Bradford, he was a little bit of everyone – friends and family – so I feel the audience can empathise and understand his choices throughout the film.

Give it a watch and let me know!

How did you get involved in the film?

This was actually a two year process. I first came across the role for the short film back in 2015, a production company called Tadah Media run by director and writer Dave Gilbank and co-writer Paul Renhard posted an audition on Casting Call Pro (which is now Mandy.com).

I went to the audition, met the crew and the other Actors, and we had a blast – the rest is history.

After doing the short film, it was entered in various film festivals where it kept winning awards! To date, it has accumulated over 30 awards, many of which include ‘best feature film’ and I’m very proud of that.

Because of the attention received on the festival circuit, we managed to ascertain funding and investors for the feature length film, and presto! The feature film script was well on its way.

It was an exciting time, the cast and crew grew and we had a bunch of fabulous talent to work with on this film. Most notably, Gemma Head, who came on as co-writer and gave the script those unforgettable comical moments. Sadly, Gemma passed away from a brave fight against cancer towards the end of last year, but her memory is immortalised by the film, where she also plays the wacky and ominous character Tracy.

Other notable cast and crew are the fantastic Jo Mousley, the wondreful (yet silly) Jamie Cymbal, the incredible Pushpinder Chani and our fabulous producer Pepe Fowler.

I am so very proud to part of the film – it was just so fun to shoot, and it shows!

Can you tell us about the making of Polterheist and your experience?

Polterheist was shot sporadically over the course of 2018.

We shot all of the scenes in and around Bradford, as this is a Northern and gritty film, placing Bradford in the heart of the narrative. All cast and crew are either local (Bradford) talent, or from the North in general.

The director, Dave Gilbank, loves Bradford. He moved to Bradford over 25 years ago from Australia and considers it his home, so he wanted to really focus on showcasing Bradford and its community in the best possible way.

I myself am from Bradford, so I was thrilled to be filming scenes on my local streets and at Dalton Mills, the same production house where Peaky Blinders is shot.

It was really great to know that Bradford has so much to offer as a city, with its beautiful architecture and its rolling green hills.

What the film also does is place British Asian talent in the driving seat of the narrative. With diversity being a hot topic within the industry, it was great to know that the production was utilising local talent and working within the community, representing minority talent, who aren’t necessarily seen in the main stream. So, this film is political, entertaining, and commercially viable!

One of my favourite scenes to shoot was the big shoot out scene at a multi story car park. It’s a pivotal scene where the film is building towards its climax. I remember that it was a 22 hour shoot from the top of my head, with lots of fake blood, car chases, gun shots, shouting and running.

I’ve been in the acting game since I was a teen. I remember being a member of the National Youth Film Academy and going through learning more about the industry and acting itself. It’s great to look back with fond memories and with the knowledge I’ve accomplished so much since then.

It’s very rewarding, and being able to work on Polterheist, well, I hope it gives any young aspiring Actor the knowledge that anything is possible, you just need to keep hacking at it.

Polterheist is available now to download and stream on Amazon Prime, get watching!

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