Social Impact Heroes: How Filmmaker Albert Dabah Is Helping To Reduce The Stigma of Mental Illness
…I realized early on that perfection is impossible, that I needed to do the best I can and expect the same from the rest of the cast and crew.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Albert Dabah.
Albert Dabah has been in the video production business for 40 years, owning and operating Simba Productions in New York City. Albert oversees the company’s production of documentaries, training videos, promos, music videos, and commercials, spearheading the creative meetings and brainstorming sessions integral to Simba’s success. He’s had the opportunity to work with notable directors and actors, including Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Ridley Scott, Meryl Streep, John Travolta, Diane Keaton, and Tom Cruise. His years of experience in New York City video production have provided him a wealth of knowledge and industry know-how, which he uses to guide a team of talented and energetic writers, producers, cinematographers, sound technicians, and editors.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I studied psychology, business, and film at Long Island University and Brooklyn College. Through out those years, I played baseball with my goal being to become a professional baseball player. When I was 18 years old, my brother Victor, who was diagnosed Schizophrenic, took his own life at 30 years old. I then decided to go for a Master in Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL.
In my years at graduate school, I pursued acting classes which lead me to create a video production company in New York City. During this time, my older sister who was living in Los Angeles took her own life as well. It was then that I started to focus on writing and directing this feature film, Extra Innings.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
After 20 years of writing 12 drafts of the script Extra Innings, I finally had the money to shoot the film. In just 7–8 weeks, I was able to cast the film, find the crew and locations.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The first day of shooting was the hardest. We were shooting baseball scenes in the Parade grounds next to Prospect Park in Brooklyn and it seemed that everything was going wrong.
It turned out the there literally wasn’t anyone on the crew who knew much about baseball other than the players who were extras and the two main actors There were technical problems going on with camera crew when shooting hand held shots as they never worked together before,.and we constantly had to stop shooting because of the noise from the planes, helicopters and sirens
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
In our 20 or more screenings we have had talkbacks and Q and A’s and I have seen significant social impact by continuing the conversation of facing the stigma of mental illness and talk about ways to reduce the stigma which ultimately can save lives.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
During a talkback, one woman in her fifties stood up and told us all a story that she had a brother that was schizophrenic and had never told anyone. She said the the film affected her so much that she felt compelled to share this family secret. After the talkback she came up to me with her Mother and thanked me for sharing the film I asked her Mother what happened to her son and unfortunately one day they found him dead on the street.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Treat mental illness like it’s an illness, not just a problem in society.
- Teach about about mental illness in schools, synagogues, churches, community groups, by professional therapists.
- Encourage people who need help to seek professional help, including the families.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Taking full responsibility for the task at hand.
For example, in producing, writing, directing and acting in Extra Innings, I had to oversee as much as much as I could and trust the people I hired to do their jobs.
I realized early on that perfection is impossible, that I needed to do the best I can and expect the same from the rest of the cast and crew.
I was extremely happy with the result.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- How difficult it is to find the right distributor. There are many distributors out there that say things that are just not true.
- How difficult it to raise money for your first film, especially with out having a stat actor in the film.
- Hiring the right people, sometimes people will say anything to get the job, so check out their references.
- How to take control of the set! Learn to have you cast and crew check their egos at the door.
- How lonely it can feel making all the decisions even with all the help you have, but how wonderful it feels when it’s all done.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I would tell people to go for their dreams, give them encouragement, support your leaders if you believe in them, be a supportive parent , partner, brother, sister, friend and when you see one in need, whom may have an emotional or physical problem reach out to them and be vulnerable with them.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Be persistent in what you want, don’t give up.
It could have been so easy for me to give up on writing this script, reaching out for all kinds of support, including financial support but I managed with the help of my family and some friends to keep going. I was determined to get it done.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I worked with him twice and found him to be a good man and an excellent film director.
I’d love for him to see Extra Innings and get his feedback.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Follow us on Instagram @extrainningsmov, Facebook Extra Innings, and our website http://extrainningsmovie.com/
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!