Life Lessons: Ali F Mostafa

Ali F Mostafa, the film director, shares his philosophy on life.

Andrew Henderson / The National
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Ali F Mostafa, 29, was born in London and grew up in Dubai. A writer, producer and director, he made short films before his 2009 feature debut, City Of Life, broke box office records for an Emirati movie. He is now working on a new UAE-based film.

No one knows everything. No matter how old you are you can't claim to know everything. There is always room to learn. Even the great film director Martin Scorsese said, "I am still learning how to make films to this day." So be humble.

Never accept "impossible". I was advised to lock my script for City Of Life in a safe and think about making it in 10 years' time. This advice was given to me because the authorities felt my film might be too controversial to produce. In my view, the issue was not controversy but the fear of new ground. "Are we ready?" was the question. I felt we were. I thought, "We have come so far with our country we have to break more ground." Always persevere and fight for your objective. "Impossible" should not be an option.

Film-making is not theoretical. It is practical. Do not worry if you cannot go to film school. The best way to learn film-making is to make as many films as you can. Get on as many sets as you can. There are a lot more commercial shoots going on in this part of the world than films. My advice is to get involved. You'll be surprised how fast you will learn.

Big dreams need bigger action. Always dream big and aim high. But remember the bigger the dream the more work you have to put in to achieve it. You might get the door slammed in your face 100 times but it just means it was not your door, your entrance or your blessing. Keep trying those doors until one opens. I was once told by a loved one to aim as high as you can, because even if you miss the moon you will end up among the stars. Never give up hope.

Treat others how you would like to be treated. People deserve respect no matter what. Karma affects us all. You don't want your regrettable actions of the past to hit you in the face in the future. However important you think you are, you are actually equal to the person beside you.

As told to Helena Frith Powell