Raza Tariq: Gen Z filmmaker, polymath and Soho Fellow you should follow | Soho House

Following the screening of his latest short film at Soho House 76 Dean Street in London, the bright young filmmaker talks all things spirituality, accessibility, and the power of ego

Wednesday 3 August 2022   By Anastasiia Fedorova

Raza Tariq describes himself as a polymath. The 20-year-old creative, who was born and raised in west London, is determined to defy the boundaries of genre as much as the constraints of age – he started making films when he was just 11 years old. ‘Filmmaking is like my mother tongue,’ he tells me, confidently. 

These days, he switches effortlessly between film, sculpture, painting and performance, and as such Tariq has been part of the Soho House fellowship programme since March this year. Specially selected by our Inclusivity Board, Soho Fellows are awarded a 12-month membership with the aim of progressing a project or piece of work that has the potential to make a lasting impact on inclusivity in the creative industries. In July, Tariq screened his most recent short film, Taming A Seahorse, at Soho House 76 Dean Street in London.

An accomplished piece of filmmaking that proves Tariq’s creative journey has only just begun, Taming A Seahorse takes place in the space of time of an Uber journey, and explores spirituality and morality in a mystical eerie atmosphere. Short films, with their ability to be both fleeting and impactful, are the medium of choice for Tariq. Among the artist’s previous works are Echo Chamber, which was filmed entirely on Zoom and explored the diverging opinions around COVID-19 during the pandemic, and Gifted Handz, which traces the live journey of a west London barber. 

In the wake of his most recent screening, we spoke to Tariq about his career and the role that film plays in the next generation of creatives. 

Raza Tariq: Gen Z filmmaker, polymath and Soho Fellow you should follow | Soho House
Raza Tariq: Gen Z filmmaker, polymath and Soho Fellow you should follow | Soho House

You work across quite a few different creative spheres – what are your main interests currently?  
‘I’ve been writing and directing films since I was 11 years old, but in the last year or two, I have expanded to a few other mediums. I paint and I’ve done exhibitions, and I’m doing a sculpture right now. I also DJ and just completed an album in May. For me, it all ties together.’

How did you get into making films, especially at such a young age? 
‘Because of insecurity, actually. When I was in my final year of primary school, being a YouTuber started to become a thing. All the kids had these BlackBerry phones, which they were making videos with and showing them to each other at the end of school every day. I made a video and the teacher didn’t show it for as long as they’d shown the others, so I was like, “Cool, I’m going to find out how to do this better”. Then every day, I just started making videos and films, and it became a passion for me. It started out of ego really. You can purify yourself from that later in life, but it had to start somewhere.’

What draws you to the medium of short film in particular?
‘I feel that short films at their core are isolated, incidental. Most people don’t really watch short films that much, and when they do, they probably remember it. It’s a fleeting moment, because at the end of the day all of the stuff that an artist makes, one day, 1,000 years, 2,000 years from now – eventually it will be forgotten. I like that short films are a little bit more transitory than other art forms.’

Raza Tariq: Gen Z filmmaker, polymath and Soho Fellow you should follow | Soho House

Could you talk a little bit about your latest film, Taming A Sea Horse, which you screened at Soho House 76 Dean Street last month? 
‘I initially wrote the film because I was in Ubers all the time with my dad. He’d be having these conversations with the drivers and he’d always get really close to them to the point where when we left the Uber, he’d be giving them his number. I’d be like, “You don’t even know this person…” It got me thinking about trust and how dependent we are on each other, whether we realise it or admit it or not. We are all just shoulder to shoulder, we’re not at all far apart, for better or for worse. The story is an Uber journey from point A to point B. I wrote it to be a suspenseful film, but I would say it’s more a mystical film now. I think it’s very spiritual in its own way, it’s about the weight of morality.’

Have you seen Jim Jarmusch’s film Night On Earth, where each story plays out in a taxi? 
‘I am actually not very well-versed in film. I really try to stay away from references. These days, everyone’s making a deck and a treatment to everything and putting like 10 pictures of 10 different films. I’m just not interested in that. I enjoy the fact that I’m not formally trained and don’t know what most people know – because I think, in the end, no one knows anything.’

As a young filmmaker, do you think film is more accessible now than it has been? Or would you say it’s still difficult to navigate?
‘I think in a way it’s less accessible now than before. In the past, people would just go to the movies and see whatever was out. Whereas nowadays, with the aggressive marketing tactics of major corporations and their interest in film as a profit-generating media, the only things that are brought to your attention are the things that the algorithm deems fit. I feel like now you’re much more likely, if you’re a kid from an estate for example, to consume a certain type of work just because it’s considered to suit your demographic.’

Raza Tariq: Gen Z filmmaker, polymath and Soho Fellow you should follow | Soho House

What are you working on now? Any exciting upcoming projects? 
‘I’ve been developing my debut feature film for a long time, which is called Spitting Feathers. It’s about grooming and gangs, but through a spiritual lens. I came up with the idea when I was in secondary school; I was 15 or 16 years old and experiencing a lot of these things. And then as I’ve grown older and looked back at those memories, I’ve developed spiritually and saw the ignorance with which we approach certain things, and realised that it was so out of our hands and we were out of our depth. And I can’t help but feel that at the heart of all of these issues is a desperate thirst for some sort of eternal or purposeful satiation of the palate. But people are so enclosed within their boxes and the remit they’ve been handed that these things seem out of their reach, when actually it’s right in front of them. And so, I’ve written a feature film about that. I’m hoping to shoot it next year.’

How has the fellowship programme helped you on your creative journey?
‘With the fellowship, I feel like there aren’t any boundaries. You’re given the keys to Soho House as an institution. It’s a very self-aware organisation and they are actually at the forefront of a lot of things, and the reasons that changes come about across industries. Soho House is like the bridge between places and I’m walking across it right now.’ 

Follow Raza Tariq at @razatari.

Find out more about Soho Fellowship and House Foundations here.

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