A Lozells director is overwhelmed by rave reviews for his first Amazon Prime film. ‘Bluff’, shot by Muslim filmmaker Sheikh Shahnawaz, is now screening on the global subscription service.
Incredibly, the thriller feature cost just £1,500 to make – with a one-man team, Mr Shahnawaz also producing and writing the film’s script. Filmed entirely in Birmingham, it follows the story of an undercover cop posing as a heroin addict. He conceals his identity to infiltrate a dangerous drug network.
Since launching on the streaming service, the Lozells-born director has been contacted by strangers around the world who have been touched by his work.
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The 27-year-old told BirminghamLive: “It was amazing to read reviews from strangers across the country and other parts of the world. One woman cried when she watched Bluff because she lost her son-in-law because of heroin addiction.
“I feel incredibly happy to finally be able to share it with the public. You don’t just make art for yourself – you want to share it with others too.”
Most detective films are filmed in Lozells, Handsworth, Edgbaston and the town centre. It has an entirely Midlands-based cast.
“The bluff has been done over the last two years on a budget of £1,500,” Mr Shahnawaz said. “I was forced to make this film with my own resources.”
Filming took place during the summer of 2019 after eight months of writing. Mr Shahnawaz added: “As a 24-year-old filmmaker, the child of two Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants and from the city centre, no one in the UK film industry would give me a mainstream opportunity.”
Mr Shahnawaz dedicates Bluff, which was first shown to a Birmingham audience in October last year, to his late father who died of a heart attack. The former Coventry University media student said: “It’s deeply personal.
“Not only having to deal with the death of my father, but also because it’s set in Birmingham and deals with homelessness and the illicit heroin trade – widespread issues here.
“I have spent time with real heroin users and drug dealers for research. And the undercover policing tactics described are based on actual experiences of undercover officers who operated in this area. “
Mr Shahnawaz, who has also found success on YouTube, was inspired by filmmakers Christopher Nolan, Damien Chazelle and Barry Jenkins while making the film.
Bluff, which has a running time of 114 minutes, is available for rental and purchase on Amazon Prime by clicking here.