Your Everyday Heroes spotlights the stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. In doing so, we wish to break down the belief that the word “hero” is reserved only for fictional characters or the rich and famous. Because when we attach heroism to standards that are unattainable for most people, we are dismissing our own potential to be heroes.
In reality, the greatest heroes are the hard-working folks whose labor forms the backbone of our society. And when we come to realize this, the notion that we ourselves can be heroes doesn’t seem so farfetched.
To properly express our conviction, we present to you a very special Your Everyday Heroes episode: “Behind the Scenes.”
The Purpose of “Behind the Scenes”
We tasked Pakistani film director Ali Imran Ch to create a TV commercial that illustrates the Your Everyday Heroes ideology: that even common people have the ability to be heroic. If you’ve been following this season of YEDH, you’ll already have seen some of Ch’s work. He and his film crew did an excellent job of directing Umar Mughal’s inspiring episode.
We thought that Ch would be the perfect director for this project, as his philosophy regarding filmmaking mirrors our philosophy regarding heroism. He tells us, “There are many aspects [of film] that we don’t consciously notice. But when we do notice them, we realize just how important they are.”
While Ch may be referring to the many subtleties of the filmmaking process—which go over the heads of most viewers—we felt that this statement was a powerful reflection of what YEDH is trying to get across. Heroes walk among us. They blend in so well with everyone else because, well, they are just like everyone else. Oftentimes, their work goes unnoticed. But when we finally do see the impact they make on the world, we become conscious of their importance.
As Ch puts it: “Take, for example, an apple: whenever I say the word ‘apple,’ the audience will automatically recognize its color and shape… because this is what we’ve always seen in the books. Similarly, when we talk about heroes… we think of Superman, we think of Batman.”
Ch’s goal with this project is to change that perception.
The Birth of a Hero
Before filming the commercial, Ch meets with his team for a brainstorming session. He has come prepared with ideas, suggesting that the ad opens with dramatic “superhero” music playing underneath a narrator’s voice: “Some heroes are created. Some choose their own paths. As a child, I believed in many things. I believed in the magic of heroes. But as I grew, I began to see that it was all a mirage… these things don’t exist. The true heroes walk among us.”
He goes on to describe possible characters to appear in the ad. “There’s this one character… he’s a farmer,” Ch says. “He’s holding a sickle over his shoulder, right? And there’s gonna be this voiceover, ‘If you ate today, thank a farmer.’”
Watching this behind the scenes footage, we already loved where Ch was going, as he was so accurately representing the point we sought to make. Too often do we idolize the CEO, and not often enough do we respect the worker, the hero, who toils for the benefit of his peers. The farmer character is just one of many examples of an everyday hero.
The Film Crew Begins Production
While the farmer was certainly a brilliant idea for a character, Ch’s team’s character designer Ahsan Ali Khan had something else in mind for the ad’s protagonist.
“When I got to know this character, I was thrilled,” Khan tells us. “Because normally we talk about heroes in the limelight… but we’re talking about a normal human being, who can act as a hero. I wanted him to be an ordinary person wearing a suit and tie—an office person.”
Khan’s vision for the hero character was certainly different from Ch’s, but it also had its charm. We often think of the suit and tie-wearing office worker as a “nobody,” a “cog in the machine,” but Khan wanted to display these workers in a more positive light. To top it off, he had the protagonist wear a stereotypical superhero cape, juxtaposing the two main perceptions of a hero.
The Film Crew Realizes Their Own Heroism
Filming the ad obviously got Ch and his team thinking about their personal definitions of heroism. It opened them up to the idea that by filming this project, they themselves were engaging in a heroic act.
“A character is defined by the choices they make,” Ch tells us. “And everyone in the world has this one power: the power of choice… I started filmmaking because I admired this enormous power cinema has. You can create your own world, create your own characters, and it’s up to you how you manipulate them.”
Just as a filmmaker is given the choice of what messages to send with their projects, a person is given the choice to act heroically. And Ch and his team were choosing to use their artistic talents to spread positivity, undeniably the heroic choice.
“If my video brings positivity into anyone’s life, that will mean that I am successful in achieving my goal,” Ch says.
Did you miss Yecson Preciado’s Featured Showcase?
It’s Hard Work Being a Hero
However, the team also acknowledges that being a hero takes more than merely good intentions. It takes hard work and effort. It is more about action and less about thought. And the team demonstrated an incredible work ethic throughout the filming process.
As assistant director Rania Mohsin Faruki puts it, “Every scene requires hard work… People misinterpret how hard we work behind the scenes. Like, for just a few seconds or a few minutes of video, a lot of people are putting their efforts together to make something visually appealing… it’s a team effort, and I don’t think you can do it by yourself.”
When asked to state her personal definition of a hero, Faruki gives a compelling answer: “A hero for me is every single person alive on this Earth who is striving just to live another day.” The keyword here is striving. We must never forget to give respect to those who are striving, even if it is just to continue living. And therefore, we must never forget to give respect to ourselves.
The hard work it takes to be a hero is something that we try to highlight in all of our hero stories, and we couldn’t have been happier that Ch and his film crew managed to hit the nail on the head with this project.
The end result was a brief, yet effective TV commercial that showcased the value of everyday people. We are so grateful to Ali Imran Ch and his film crew for all the excellent work they have done for us. Our filmmakers are truly the unsung heroes of Your Everyday Heroes.
We felt that this episode was necessary to not only illustrate our website’s mission statement, but also to give our audience an inside look into the work that goes into making episodes of YEDH. As always, we hope you came away from it feeling inspired. You have just as much potential to be a hero as the people you idolize. As Ch would say, it is all dependent on your choices.