Filmmaker Magazine named Little Rock’s Amman Abbasi, the son of Pakistani immigrants living in Arkansas, among “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” noting the visual strength of Abbasi’s debut feature film, “Dayveon,” which tells the story of a 13-year-old boy who becomes involved with a local gang in rural Arkansas. “Dayveon” was conceived during Abbasi’s time in Chicago with brothers Craig and Brent Renaud, who were filming a documentary on gang violence, and Abbasi brought those ideas home to Arkansas. 

“I had written a placeholder script just with archetypical characters and concepts of stuff that I‘d gathered in Chicago,” he explains. “Then, I workshopped the script with at-risk youth at the local boot camp here. I got their opinions on it, and slowly I realized a lot of it doesn’t hold up and some of it does. Then I put their words on the page as to how their story should really be told.” 

In the rehearsal process, the film began to garner the attention of several production companies, Rough House, Symbolic Exchange and Muskat Filmed Properties, who eventually backed the film in collaboration. The film is expected to screen at festivals in 2017.

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Abbasi could once be spotted working with his parents, Zahid and Shabnam, at Masala Grill + Teahouse, formerly in the River Market. He’s a musician, too; he and his brother Yousef, as The Abbasi Brothers, scored two films, “Warrior Champions” and “The Wall,” and recorded an album in 2008, “Something Like Nostalgia.” 

Check out Abbasi’s 2013 interview with the now-defunct Little Rock Film Festival below.