A London-based 21 year old writer, director and (occasional) actor, Nasir was born and raised in Bermuda, where he has won the English Speaking Union of Bermuda’s William Zuill Memorial Writing Competition for his stage play script: Sea Salt and Sell Swords.
At the age of 16, Nasir moved to Pune, India to study
at the Mahindra United World College of India before moving
to London to study film at university and further pursue his artistic passions.
During his time in London, he began experimenting more
vigorously with other mediums: namely industrial music and
digital art, exploring his creative identity in preparation for
his graduate film and co-directorial debut (with friend and
frequent collaborator Lillianna Johnson) in 2021: the
dystopian short film, Tentacle Head.
Lillianna Johnson is a visual artist finishing off a final year of
screenwriting and producing at Regent’s University London.
Back home in Los Angeles, California, she studied art in high
school as well as experimenting with special effects make up
and photography outside of school.
The past three years since moving to London, Lillianna has been able to combine her interests within visual art into film
making. Still continuing to build skills in her other passions
such as music making, painting and digital art, in co-directing
the short film Tentacle Head with Nasir Simmons, she was
able to refuel her love for practical effects.
A conversation that sparked this concept was with a man in a doctor’s office who used to be homeless, but hid it for two and a half years. He told me how he used to wash himself at hotels and gas stations, go to dumps to find clothes and then wash
them at a laundromat to appear as though he wasn’t homeless because he didn’t want to be treated “like a bum”.
That story broke my heart and I didn’t feel comfortable appropriating/profiting from his story for my own artistic gain, so I wanted to find a concept that touched on those very human feelings. This led me to Tentacle Head…
Many people step over homeless people, not even giving them looks or a word. Others go a step worse, looking at them with fear and disgust and course-correcting their walk to be further from them. Rather than seeing them as people who have
been failed by us as a society and by others that should be helping, many often see them as cautionary tales, disgusting failures and a blank canvas to project assumptions onto: “get off your ass and get a job.” “they’re probably going to spend
that money on drugs.” etc. This dehumanizing treatment leads many homeless people to hide their homeless
status, living in hiding within cars, curating wardrobes to maintain dignity and be treated as “normal”. It’s a lonely, harrowing experience.
This made me think about the extent to which these people have been pushed to the fringe of society, but also the extent to which people will go to be perceived differently in order to elevate within/from their societally designated “place in life”. This goes from buskers (training yourself in a new skill), to changing wardrobe to not appear as just another beggar. Tentacle Head’s method is to cut off his tentacles, making him “normal” and therefore more worthy of sympathy of others.
– Nasir Simmons