Getting to know the man behind Xero Error
The profile of Ashraf Ghori: artist, animator and entrepreneur.
November 23, 2012 9:45 by M. Aldalou
Q) The most career-defining moments?
I would narrow them down to 4 initiatives I had taken over the years:
1 – The time I started doing illustration work for Young Times / Khaleej Times as a high school student. This was what got me started professionally and gave me an early lesson in time management juggling between my school studies and a part time job.
2 – The time I created my own comic books in Houston Texas. Being part of a creative team helped me learn teamwork. This association also helped me build on my artistic skills which would help me later in life.
3 – The time I started my company Xpanse CGI. After working as a freelance animator / designer for over a decade, I finally branded my services into Xpanse. This opened many doors for me professionally.
4 – The time I made Xero Error – Although this was not a commercial project but more a labor of love, this is what got me media attention in the region and garnered me a lot of popularity and new friends. It has also helped boost my company Xpanse in a positive way.
Q) Why did you choose to come to Dubai when the ‘animation and digital’ scene is probably a lot more developed elsewhere?
Dubai has always been home for me. I opened my eyes here as a kid, growing up with it. UAE is only a few years older than I am. In the 90’s I was in the US for the duration of my studies and I did get some promising breaks into the comic industry. Ultimately I always felt I needed to return back to Dubai to settle down, a decision I have never regretted.
Q) Back in 2009 with Xero Error, you had some trouble finding sponsors because of the economic recession. How is the animation landscape now?
Xero Error was supposed to be a much longer film with a lot more drama and action. Since it was the first film of its kind for the region, potential sponsors were wary about the outcome and never stepped forward to fund it, apart from a few who offered assistance in a very limited capacity. And the fact that it was scheduled to be produced at a time of economic recession, did not help me any. So I took the decision to self-fund a shorter, 8 minute version of the film and enlisted volunteers from my social media channels to complete the film.
While being a part of the UAE’s film industry over the years, I’ve learned that it is always the best option to self-fund your films using your own resources and channels. It is important to start off on your project and not wait on an angel (investor) to show up.
Progress in present day animation technology would also make it a little easier to reach your goals now.