I drove down to New Jersey for the second annual American Muslim Consumer Conference on Saturday. Really inspiring speakers, insights, attendees, and entrepreneurs. If you want a piece of the estimated 6-8 million Muslims in America, with billions of dollars of untapped, ignored spending power, read the tweets (#AMCC) and join us next year. This is a market on par with any mid-sized European country, and it’s in your back yard.
One of the many brilliant speakers was actor Faran Tahir , who played Raza in Iron Man and Captain Robau in the last Star Trek film, among many, many other TV and movie roles. He spoke on the topic “Dodging Stereotypes: Muslim Brand Under the Threat of Recall.” It was a really engaging talk where he discussed an actor’s dual nature of being both a product (obvious) and a brand (not obvious). In his case, since he’s Muslim-looking (whatever that means--must be the traditional Muslim garb) he gets asked to play generic terrorist #3 on a regular basis. He discussed how he has both rejected and accepted those roles, sometimes bringing a dimension of humanity to someone who’s supposed to be a simple villainous stereotype. What struck me as really interesting is his willingness to admit he sometimes makes Faustian bargains with himself, playing generic terrorist #3 so he can do something good with the money. That good includes his upcoming movie, Jinn.
Jinn is a supernatural thriller coming out in 2011. (Let’s hope it’s better than Wishmaster , the other jinn-based movie that we know of, and which sucked – a lot. No, wait, there’s also this film The Jinn, which we haven’t seen but also looks pretty sorry. OMG, wait, there's this, too, which looks, if anything, even worse.) So the bar is set pretty low. Jinn, directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad, is supposed to “introduce the accurate mythological concept of the jinn to western audiences.” (Deborah's intrigued by the frosty palette and imagery for a film that's about creatures made of fire.)
The cast of Jinn includes Tahir, Ray Park, and Dominic Rains, who played Jehangir in The Taqwacores. Also starring in Jinn is a beyond-customized Chevrolet Camaro called the FireBreather, designed by writer and director Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad and built in collaboration with Classic Design Concepts of Michigan. Ahmad says it’s the first made-for-a-movie car that was also made as a production car; in other words, you can buy it. Only fifty were made; if you’ve got $60 grand lying around, you can have one of the individually numbered cars for your very own.
You can keep abreast of updates on Jinn's Facebook page. And check out the teaser: