Haya Fatima Iqbal is down to earth, fun and extremely relatable with a witty sense of humour. In the entire duration of this interview there was barely a moment of dullness because her energetic vibe fills up a room. She describes herself as a young Pakistani woman who wants to try and change things around her without taking too much of a toll on her own self. She enjoys travelling and takes pleasure in talking to all sorts of people hailing from varying backgrounds. She believes that just getting to know about them and their lives not only helps her become a better person but also a better filmmaker.

Haya usually works alone, taking care of filming, sound, lighting and editing all on her own. She got interested in documentary filmmaking specifically because she was a journalist with an education in the same field. She was a reporter at a newspaper after which she also did internships at radio and TV stations. She soon realized that the medium of television and radio was very limiting because each story is allowed only a few minutes on air. Nothing can be fully explained in its deep essence in a matter of minutes because every issue has multiple layers and nothing around us is black and white.


Haya Fatima Iqbal is a very sensitive person when it comes to listening to other peoples’ stories but at the same time she is also very thick skinned having covered various kinds of stories. The only thing that can become a problem is that not being able to resolve some of the issues her characters face leaves a negative impact on her. She has, however, learned to create a balance between empathising with her subjects while still maintaining an aura of objectivity.


To young aspiring filmmakers she says, “Don’t get scared, just go out and get it done. Start shooting at least but while doing that, please do have a certain vision in mind about what your film is really going to be. Documentary film is primarily unscripted and that is inherently where the magic of it lies. You may not know what journey your characters will take or what their final destination will be but you should have an idea of what the final destination of the film would be and what message you are trying to portray through it because if you keep on collecting footage without an end in mind, that is just hundreds of GBs uselessly lying in your hard drive. The next step is post-production and funding is very important because you need to figure out where the completed film goes and getting people to buy or fund a film is one of the most difficult tasks; something which many filmmakers, including myself, still struggle with. I realize this is all very morbid advice but to be able to earn your bread and butter through filmmaking, you really need to hustle.”

Members of TEDxSZABIST with Haya Fatima Iqbal at her residence.

– Mehreen Qayam