It’s not every day that you meet someone who’s created two web series, documentaries, and is producing a talk show and podcast. This may sound like the life of a big-name media mogul, and judging by Kashif Boothe’s work ethic, in a few years that just might be true. Boothe is the mastermind behind the scripted web series Nate and Jamie, which follows two young men in their adventures in friendship and dating. The series recently led to a spinoff that premiered this year, imperfect.
I was recently introduced to Kashif’s work and was immediately blown away by his talent and production level. It’s not often that you see someone with such a large output of work in a short span of time, but anyone who knows an artist understands the innate work ethic that many of us have when pursuing our dreams. And after just one conversation, I found it palpable that Kashif is a man on a mission.
“I have a plan for what I’m doing over the next 18 months,” Kashif explained during a recent Skype interview. “We’re filming the second season of Nate and Jamie and I started planning this in December. There’s another project I want to start doing in November. Work is my life. I can count on my hand how many social things I’ve done in 2018.”
The grind is not just a phrase to throw around for Kashif, it’s his life. When his 9-5 at the Discovery Channel UK ends (where he manages TV scheduling), Kashif heads to set to work on one of his many projects, and at one point, shuffled between two jobs and video shoots on the weekend. This past January, Kashif’s team won an award. He showed up after working through the night on Saturday, shooting all Sunday and then heading to the ceremony, a weekend where he was up 40 hours straight.
For independent filmmakers and writers like Kashif, your work is your life, and with no one commissioning and paying you for the labor, everything is a matter of passion and intention. Creatives make their work because they have a voice and something to share with the world. During our talk, Kashif reflected on his own life and the work that inspired him to pursue his passion in the television and film industry.
“I remember being 13 and seeing a talk show (it may have been Tyra Banks or Talk to the Hand). I wanted to have a platform where I could create things and address topics that affect our people. I’m a fan of TV, you can really focus on character development, and with documentaries you can address topics that we don’t usually see.”
Kashif developed his style, which he describes as both comedic and educational, from watching shows like Girlfriends and Quentin Tarantino films such as Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. “Even being a guy not relating to anything they [Girlfriends characters] were going through, I loved the writing, character arcs, and mixing drama and comedy…[like Tarantino] I like to have a shock factor and keep audiences guessing.”
This drive to tell stories led Kashif to writing and producing (he’s not a fan of directing). He takes inspiration from conversations and daily observation, converting them to bullet point outlines that transform into entertaining scripts during waves of inspiration where he writes for “six or seven hours,” and then edits vigorously for weeks until he’s crafted a story he’s happy with.
Producing on little to no budget is a bit more challenging, and he admits that money is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. “It all comes from my bank account and that’s it,” he says. The very first season of Nate and Jamie, Kashif and his crew used their own equipment, focused solely on producing a good series and getting their work in front of the public. With the recent success of the show, Kashif is now using more top quality equipment, bringing in better directors and camera operators and renting professional lenses and tools to build on the series’ budding reputation.
Artistic collaboration has helped Kashif produce such successful work. “Luckily, I have met really good people who are committed to helping me with my project,” he said. “That’s sometimes hard to find: people who can put into your work like it’s their own. Sometimes it’s a trial and error to collaborate.
“My executive producer and I met on another shoot and clicked right away. You have to try to connect with someone who has the same work ethic as you and the same passion, because we’re not paid to do these projects but we enjoy what we’re doing and want to make sure it’s the best it can be.”
Kashif says social media has brought many collaborations, as creatives can now see one another’s work and reach out to like-minded artists. It’s ultimately the power of today’s digital platforms that allow content creators like Kashif to exist. One of the most notable examples of this, and one of Kashif’s inspirations, is Issa Rae, whose YouTube series Awkward Black Girl, led to her deal with HBO and the critically-acclaimed comedy series Insecure. It’s hard to imagine that such an unapologetically Black show, with characters constantly battling microaggressions at work and finding solace in often crude and graphic humor, would have even made it past the first minute of a pitch to a major network. But Issa Rae’s success on YouTube proved that her stories resonated with audiences in a way that is indeed marketable in mainstream media.
“Fifteen years ago you couldn’t do things like this, you’d have to raise money somehow and get into festivals, but now with the Internet, YouTube and Instagram you can create your own content and don’t have to wait for a TV network. People say ‘oh we’re not represented’ but now you can just do it yourself.”
Kashif feels grateful that he can work on storylines that are fulfilling to him instead of being stuck with a TV job he might hate (“I could never work on a soap, for example”). Digital media is granting actors, filmmakers, writers and other creatives access that industry elites usually denied emerging artists. The gatekeepers of deciding what’s good art are slowly but surely turning into the hands of consumers themselves, and this makes dream chasing a more attainable reality.
“If you’re in a part of England or America where you want to be an actor or filmmaker, but you dont have the money to come to New York or LA or London, you’re gonna use whatever platform you have to get where you wanna be,” Kashif explains.
Kashif says his ultimate goal is to work independently all the time, but until then he will keep “writing scripts when he comes home from work” because “having a security blanket” to pay rent makes it easier to pursue his projects when financial support is low.
He’s currently focusing on building his style aesthetically and making good connenctions with hopes of creating a short film that will make it to top festivals like Sundance. He also hopes to start pitching to streaming services. Kashif knows his series are unlike anything on television today, and he hopes that a distribution deal will help Americans see what life is like for Black Britains.
“[America] had a number of Black shows, we had two successful black shows: a comedy sketch show called The Real McCoys and The Desmonds, which was like our Cosby show.” Outside of a few dramas depicting life in the projects, Kashif says very few UK-produced shows have illustrated Black life in England, and the few representations that exist are short-lived or poorly portray people of color, all the way down to actors with “bad line-ups” Kashif laughs. While Black Brits love shows like Black-ish and Fresh Prince because they find immense similarities in the storylines and culture, Kashif sees a void and wants to produce content that would allow Britain to reciprocate the Black talent that Hollywood has produced.
I’m excited to see what he’ll create in the coming months. He’s already collaborating with more friends on projects like the Dish podcast and Talk That Matters talk show for young, educated men. It’s given Kashif an opportunity to flex his producing muscles and discuss important issues he cares about like politics, gentrification, interracial dating, racial depiction in the media and more. With such an innovative mind and a heart for story-telling, Kashif is well on his way to becoming the next great British talent, taking on the entertainment industry by storm.
You can follow his projects on Instagram @kashifbootheentertainment.