Born and raised in Dubai, UAE, Sarmad’s introduction to cinema began with a bootleg copy of E.T. – The Extraterrestrial at age six. The film laid the foundation for his passion for cinema and more importantly, the craft of storytelling.
As an adult, Sarmad gave up a successful decade-long career as a graphic designer to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a filmmaker and moved to Los Angeles in 2007. While still a freshmen, Sarmad secured his first paid writing gig when an independent producer chanced upon Sarmad’s short script Blood Dawn – an ultra violent vampire/western billed as No Country for Old Men meets John Carpenter’s Vampires.
Impressed with Sarmad’s writing style – more action, less dialog, combined with 70’s style pacing – the producer hired Sarmad to write his first feature-length screenplay, an urban crime/thriller titled Vengeance about an aging mob enforcer who, after surviving a failed assassination attempt on his life by his own outfit, returns from the brink of death to settle the score.
Inspired by morally ambiguous 70’s crime capers like Point Blank, Get Carter, Charley Varrick, The Getaway and the Parker series books by Richard Stark, Vengeance was pitched as Layer Cake meets Payback. Unfortunately, the economic downturn of 2008 saw to it that Vengeance never went into production.
Soon after Sarmad started working on film and television sets as a Production Assistant beginning with small, low-budget productions and gradually moving up with films such as The Day the Earth Stood Still and My Name is Khan. During this period, Sarmad also cowrote, produced and served as assistant director on the set of Paper and Colored Pencils, a short film currently doing the rounds on the North American festival circuit.
2010 saw Sarmad re-teaming with Paper and Colored Pencils writer/director Karin Binanto to script the Sundance Screenwriters Lab semi-finalist, Dragonfly – An offbeat story about an emotionally disturbed artist and the apathetic party clown she hires to videotape her suicide.
Later that year Sarmad relocated to his maternal home town in the south Indian state of Karnataka, a move that led to the inspiration behind Mission Hospital – Sarmad’s third feature-length screenplay – an old school horror/ thriller /mystery and a throwback to horror classics from the 1970’s.
Film by Ryan Barton-Grimley Production Assistant
A True Story: Based on Things That Never Actually Happened... And Some That Did
Film by Malcolm Goodwin Production Assistant
King of the Road
Film by Monica Surrena Production Assistant
My Name Is Khan
Film by Karan Johar Production Assistant
Film by Malcolm Venville Production Assistant
Paper and Colored Pencils
Film by Karin Binanto Writer/ Producer/ Assistant Director
Film by Beth Spitalny Production Assistant
Morbid: A Love Story
Film by Edward Payson Production Assistant
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Film by Scott Derrickson Production Assistant
University of Lincoln, England