The entertainment industry is embracing diversity like never before, and the Muslim world is ready to take centre stage, emerging as a source of fresh and exciting talent. Muslim artists, who are informed and inspired by Islam, are eager to share their work with audiences around the globe.
Publishers, studios, and game designers are all taking notice and turning their attention to this untapped pool of creativity. From live and animated television to film, gaming, and merchandising, the Muslim creative community is ready to make its mark on the entertainment world.
To meet this demand, Jabal Entertainment CEO Sohaib Awan, creator of the first-ever American comic book series inspired by Muslim narratives, IDW Publishing’s Jinnrise, presents his brainchild, ‘The Fictional Frontiers Initiative’!
A Platform for Emerging Muslim Talent
This Muslim creative collective is the ultimate destination for aspiring artists, with a subscription-based digital platform, a bi-weekly live-streaming show, and one-on-one development opportunities in a variety of multimedia verticals. From live and animated television to film, gaming, and merchandising, Fictional Frontiers will be an incubator for creatives and audiences around the globe (Insha Allah!)
Most projects in the industry, according to Awan, were based on secular perspectives and tied to Western mythology, leading to a repetition of tired tropes and standards. By speaking with fans and industry professionals, Awan learned that not only were people getting bored with this type of content, but they were also craving new and diverse stories.
From Timbuktu to Kuala Lumpur, the Muslim world’s long tradition of art, architecture, music, poetry, philosophy, science, and philanthropy has touched nearly every nation. Sharing this rich tapestry is at the forefront of the initiative. The “why” behind the efforts to Awan is as important to cultivate and share as the content itself (though there’s entertainment to be had there, too!).
Representation isn’t the only important aspect of Muslim-inspired narratives to Awan. But also, our experiences, values, and beliefs all shape our worldview, which serves as a guide for our actions and reactions and gives us insight into our aspirations. For Muslims, the pursuit of Truth and Beauty is a lifelong journey filled with both obstacles and triumphs, making for compelling stories. It’s these unique perspectives and experiences that the Fictional Frontiers Initiative seeks to showcase and cultivate.”
“In addition, because Muslims focus on the Unseen and not only the tangible, there’s a long-ignored perspective on reality. Of what is, but also what can and will be. And yet, we never ignore what it means to be human. The ups and downs. The humor and heart. The sound and fury signify something. It’s all there, but colored by our multi-hued tapestry across nations and tribes.”
Awan saw a need for a platform for Muslim creators to develop and share their work. With his background as a member of the Critics Choice Association and extensive industry connections, he was uniquely qualified to make it happen. That’s how the Fictional Frontiers Initiative was born – a place for Muslim creatives to not only develop content but also reach out to consumers, audiences, and even investors to further develop their work.
After nearly a decade of planning and working with industry leaders on the most impactful of intellectual properties (like Star Wars, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and even James Cameron’s Avatar), Awan and his team of aspiring talents are pushing the envelope on where global pop culture can go and HOW content is produced.
“If you build it, they will come” – Field of Dreams
What really was the ‘cherry on top’ that gave Awan the confidence to launch the Fictional Frontiers Initiative was after being blown away by the quality of Turkish dramas like Diriliş: Ertuğrul and Uyanış: Büyük Selçuklu.
From the acting and choreography to the costuming and music, these shows to Awan are on par with (if not superior to), Western productions. When it came to set design and other elements, they truly elevated the historical drama genre.
What really was impressive for him was that these shows were able to produce so much content in a shorter period of time than what is typical in the US. These projects served as validation of his belief that Muslim talents have the potential to create content that is just as good, if not better, than what has been seen in the US and Europe in recent years.
“And that’s what led me to take that final leap forward to launch this initiative and (insha Allah) with the help of Allah (SWT) guiding us to facilitate all of this, we will be able to share our work with Muslim and non-Muslim audiences around the world and we will be able to contribute to these incredibly important industries by not only inspiring people in ways – not only tied to story but how story is produced and why it’s produced as well.”
“We want to create a true synergy between our storytellers and global audiences, so there’s more than just an audience/consumer relationship. We want this to be true collaborative mythmaking where “Shura-like” opinions are shared, and we, in essence, build content together. How do we do this? 2023, Insha Allah, we reveal all.”