Harun Kazaz

The Visionary Filmmaker

Bridging the world of tech with the arts, Harun Kazaz isn't your typical filmmaker. His skills traverse the vast realms of photography, journalism, and steering multimillion-dollar IT projects. Hailing from the vibrant circles of The Gotham in New York, and a member of the International Documentary Association in Los Angeles. Harun is more than just a filmmaker; he's a storyteller with roots deep into the art.

"Rising Wings" isn’t just his debut documentary—it's his magnum opus. With it, Harun doesn't just tell a story; he crafts a bridge, uniting cultures, sparking conversations, and resonating with audiences universally. But what truly defines Harun's work? Authenticity. A dedication so fierce, it's aimed at preserving the very essence of our cultural tapestry.

"Rising Wings" isn’t just another watch—it's an experience. It's an impassioned plea to the world, pushing viewers to reflect, to care, and to act. It echoes Harun's undying ethos: to conserve our traditions, our stories, and our planet.

And when it comes to narratives, Harun’s approach is unchained and raw. He's not here to fit the mold; he’s here to break it. "Rising Wings" is a beacon for those yearning for fresh perspectives, stories that both challenge and inspire.

Join a movement. Be a part of a story that doesn’t just cross borders—it erases them. A tale that harmonizes our shared history and ignites a collective duty to protect our world.

Harun's vision isn't about exclusivity—it's about reach and impact. His analogy? Given the magic-laden chance to grace currency, he'd choose the ubiquity of the one-dollar bill over the exclusivity of the hundred. Why? Because Harun’s stories are for everyone. They're meant to be seen, felt, and lived by the masses.

In a time where stories often hide behind paywalls and privilege, Harun stands out. "Rising Wings" is a testament to his pledge: Every story deserves an audience. Every voice, a platform. This is more than a film about American waterfowl hunting heritage and environmental conservation—it's a call to arms for inclusivity and diversity.

Your project has entered our festival. What is your project about?
Rising Wings is a celebration of tradition, nature, and the human spirit.

This documentary explores the intricate balance between tradition and nature. It's a journey through time, showcasing the cultural significance of waterfowl hunting and the artistic beauty of decoy making, while emphasizing the importance of environmental stewardship.


What are your ambitions with your project?
To enlighten and inspire, fostering within the audience a deeper appreciation for the beauty of tradition and the urgency of environmental conservation.

My ambition with Rising Wings is to harness its power as a storytelling medium to captivate audiences with the beauty of our natural world and rich traditions. I aspire to enlighten viewers about the critical importance of environmental stewardship and to bridge cultural divides through engaging narratives. My goal is to transcend mere entertainment, aiming instead to inspire and foster a renewed respect for cultural practices and the environment. By sparking meaningful conversations, I hope to illuminate the complex relationship between humanity and nature, emphasizing conservation and tradition.

Tell us something about your shooting. What pleasantly surprised you?
The profound connection between our subjects and their environment was a heartening revelation.

During the filming of Rising Wings, what captivated me most were the spontaneous, unscripted moments that revealed the raw beauty of the natural world. These instances – from a breathtaking sunrise over a marsh to the meticulous artistry of decoy carving – brought an unexpected depth to the film. Witnessing the authentic passion and respect our subjects, the duck hunters and decoy makers, showed for their environment was deeply moving. This genuine connection, which is often lost in modern society, was not only a delightful surprise but also immensely enriched the narrative and visual storytelling of the documentary. The commitment of these individuals to their craft and to environmental conservation infused our film with an unplanned emotional depth, making the filming process an enlightening and profoundly human experience.

For what group of spectators is your film targeted?
Rising Wings is crafted for a diverse audience. It's for anyone who appreciates the convergence of culture, art, and environmental consciousness.

Though Rising Wings will particularly resonate with enthusiasts of hunting and outdoor traditions, its wider appeal lies in its exploration of the intricate human connections with nature. The film is designed to captivate a diverse audience, ranging from those deeply passionate about wildlife and conservation to individuals fascinated by cultural history and artistry. Additionally, it holds a special allure for documentary fans in search of compelling human narratives. Transcending age and background, Rising Wings invites a broad spectrum of viewers to immerse themselves in these timeless traditions. Its universal appeal makes it a captivating watch for nature enthusiasts, cultural aficionados, and documentary lovers alike.

Why should distributors buy your film?
The universally appealing, award-winning narrative of Rising Wings offers a unique blend of captivating storytelling, stunning visuals, and universal themes that appeal to a wide audience.        

This documentary is more than just a film; it's an experience that transports viewers into a world seldom seen. Its award-winning narrative, combined with its relevance to current environmental and cultural discussions, makes it a valuable addition for any distributor looking to enrich their offerings with meaningful, high-quality content. It's a film that not only entertains but also enlightens, making it a valuable addition to any catalog.

How would you specify your work? What characterizes your film?
My work is characterized by its heartfelt storytelling, dedication to authenticity, visual artistry, and commitment to environmental and cultural themes.

Rising Wings epitomizes this approach, offering a narrative that is visually stunning, emotionally engaging, and intellectually thought-provoking. It stands out for its profound narrative depth and a focus on themes with global resonance – exploring the intricate intersection of human life with the natural world and underscoring the vital importance of preserving our cultural and environmental legacies. The film's unique strength lies in its ability to connect deeply with viewers on multiple levels, making it a truly immersive and impactful experience.

Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
To explore and share the myriad stories that shape our world and human experience and to inspire change.

For me, filmmaking transcends a mere profession—it's a calling to discover and vividly portray the diverse, often untold, or unnoticed stories that sculpt our societies and define our collective humanity. This craft offers a unique confluence where creativity and impactful storytelling converge, empowering me to effect meaningful change through the lens of a camera. The film stands as a powerful medium for delving into complex themes, forging connections among people, and shedding light on issues and narratives with the potential to shape our world. It's my method of contributing to the cultivation of a more empathetic and conscious society. The core of my passion for filmmaking lies in its capacity to initiate dialogue, evoke deep emotions, and open minds, thereby crafting a lasting imprint through the artistry of cinema.

Who is your role model?
I am inspired by a variety of filmmakers, particularly those who use their craft to make a difference.

In the domain of documentary filmmaking, my role models are those fearless storytellers and directors who bravely challenge conventional norms, stretch the limits of traditional storytelling, and create narratives that not only provoke thought but also drive societal change. Ken Burns has been a significant influence on my work. His dedication to research, attention to detail, and the ability to make history come alive through storytelling is something I strive to emulate in my own documentary filmmaking. For me, Ken Burns stands as an exemplary virtual mentor. Similarly, Nicolas Brown's influence as an indirect guide has been crucial in my filmmaking journey. It is essential to acknowledge that my relationship with these figures is rooted solely in my admiration for their work and principles, as personal interactions with them have not been a part of my experience.

Which movies are your favorites? Why?
My favorite movies are those that seamlessly blend artistic excellence with profound messages. Films that not only entertain but also leave the audience pondering, learning, and feeling more connected to the world around them. I gravitate towards documentary films that combine compelling narratives with strong visual storytelling. I have a deep appreciation for The Civil War and The Vietnam War by Ken Burns, The Serengeti Rules by Nicholas Brown, The Cove by Louie Psihoyos, and March of the Penguins by Luc Jacquet. Whether it's through groundbreaking cinematography, innovative storytelling, or powerful performances, these films leave a lasting impact and drive my passion for cinema. They're beautifully crafted, emotionally engaging, and both informative and inspiring.

Where do you look for inspiration for your films?
I find inspiration in the intricate and often untold stories woven into everyday life and nature, as was the case with Rising Wings.

The inspiration for my films frequently emerges from observing the subtle yet profound narratives embedded in our daily experiences and the natural world around us. It's the unique blend of the ordinary and the extraordinary that sparks the stories I am driven to share. Delving into history, folklore, and the rich fabric of cultural traditions uncovers a treasure trove of fascinating tales. These narratives, deeply rooted in the background stories of various subcultures, offer an endless wellspring of inspiration. Rising Wings exemplifies how such captivating stories can be unearthed and transformed into enthralling cinematic experiences.

Which topics interest you the most?
I am deeply intrigued by cultural heritage, human stories, and contemporary environmental challenges.

My fascination primarily centers on the preservation of cultural heritage, the exploration of pressing environmental challenges, and the diverse tapestry of human stories that reflect our collective experiences. I am particularly captivated by narratives that delve into the intricate relationship between humans and nature. My passion is deeply rooted in uncovering and sharing stories that examine how we, as a society, interact with our environment, honor and preserve our rich cultural histories, and navigate the complexities of our interconnected lives. These themes are incredibly engaging to me and are essential for a deeper understanding and shaping of our world. They provide invaluable insights into the human condition and our role in the evolving narrative of our planet.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career?
Bringing Rising Wings to life and witnessing its impact has been my career's crowning achievement.

Witnessing the evolution of Rising Wings from a mere concept to a globally resonant film, one that has garnered accolades and sparked vital conversations both in the U.S. and internationally, has been an incredibly fulfilling journey. It stands as a testament to the profound impact of storytelling and the significant role cinema plays in connecting and inspiring people across diverse cultures. The experience of Rising Wings transcending cultural and geographical boundaries to touch hearts and open minds globally has been profoundly moving and beyond my expectations. It's a powerful reminder of how film can bridge divides and bring us together in shared understanding and empathy.

What do you consider most important about filming?
Capturing the authenticity of the story and creating a visually and emotionally engaging experience for the audience.

The most important aspect of filming, to me, is the ability to capture authenticity, whether in a moment, a landscape, or an emotion, and to use that authenticity to evoke a genuine response from the audience. Filming is not just about the technical aspects; it's about how effectively you can translate a narrative into a visual format that touches the viewer's heart and mind. It's about finding that perfect balance between storytelling and visual artistry to create a memorable and impactful experience.

Which film technique of shooting do you consider the best?
In my documentary filmmaking, I am guided by the principle that the chosen technique must be dictated by the narrative's needs. My approach is flexible, encompassing both traditional cinematography and avant-garde methods, with the primary focus on enhancing rather than overshadowing the story. I value blending elements of direct cinema with modern documentary styles of interactive or narrative-driven techniques, which enables adaptation to evolving technology and shifting audience expectations. This balanced approach ensures that the storytelling remains at the forefront, dynamically resonating with viewers in a changing media landscape.

For me, there isn't a universal 'best' technique in documentary filmmaking; it's about choosing the method that most effectively serves the story being told. I find a balanced combination of direct cinema and more modern narrative-driven approaches particularly resonant with my storytelling style. This blend allows for an honest and unfiltered portrayal of subjects, providing an immersive experience that captures their real-life nuances without overt interference from the filmmaker. This less intrusive approach not only maintains the authenticity of the narrative but also enhances the audience's engagement. It encourages them to form their own interpretations and establish a more intimate connection with the film. My goal is to nurture a genuine bond between the subject and the viewer, inviting the audience into the narrative to foster deeper understanding and involvement. It's about creating a space where the audience can engage more profoundly with the story.

How would you rate/What is your opinion about current filmmaking?
It's an exciting time, with technological advancements allowing for more diverse and creative storytelling. Current filmmaking is excitingly diverse and innovative, offering a rich tapestry of stories and styles.

The current state of filmmaking is both dynamic and innovative, characterized by a vibrant and ever-evolving industry. Today's filmmakers are pioneers in breaking creative boundaries, leveraging cutting-edge technologies, and exploring a wide array of narratives. This exciting phase in filmmaking marks a convergence of technological progress and artistic expression. We are witnessing a filmmaking landscape that's pulsating with a mix of traditional storytelling enriched by advanced technology. This era is defined by immense creativity and opportunity, with diverse voices and perspectives gaining prominence and contributing to a richer global cinematic conversation. The emergence of digital platforms and significant advancements in filming techniques have led to a democratization of storytelling, empowering more voices to be heard and enabling the creation of innovative narratives. Rising Wings epitomizes this transformative era. In the past, the absence of today's digital capabilities would have made producing a film like Rising Wings, especially on a limited budget, a formidable task. The film stands as a testament to the profound impact of modern filmmaking tools, revolutionizing what independent filmmakers can achieve.

What can disappoint you in a movie?
What I find most disappointing in a film is when it lacks narrative depth or fails to forge a meaningful connection with its audience. A movie, in my view, falls short of its potential when it does not explore its themes thoroughly or engage the audience on an emotional level. A lack of depth in storytelling and neglecting the opportunity to connect with the audience on a deeper level can be disappointing in a movie.

In my view, a film's essence is deeply rooted in its ability to immerse and impact its audience, compelling them to reflect even long after the movie has ended. The true spirit of a film is encapsulated in the richness of its storytelling and the development of its characters. Effective storytelling is about creating a lasting impression, one that lingers in the minds and hearts of the viewers, sparking thought and emotional response. That, to me, is the hallmark of a truly remarkable film.

Who supports you in your film career?
I am supported by a dedicated team of creative professionals, an awesome network of colleagues, my wonderful wife, and, of course, virtual mentors.

My journey in filmmaking has been enriched and made possible by the unwavering support of my wife, who is also our co-producer. In addition, by collaborative and talented professional and volunteer team members. Their faith in my work and their invaluable input have been instrumental in my growth and success.