BEIRUT: As a little girl, Mia Dagher would attach fanciful hand-drawn pictures on a string crossing her room, drawing a fantasy story of her own to follow whichever way she chose.
The 22-year-old Dagher still chases pictures but, now in the real world, as she seeks out narratives and events to create films or to vlog about.
Her recent vlogs have included movie openings, the City Picnic beach party, the large Jamaloukicon fashion event, the Sadeem digital influencer award, or when Annahar first encountered her, Dagher was at the late April Woof-Fest covering the dog festival.
Wearing a retro-style red dress, with her Beagle dog on a leash in one hand and a microphone in the other, she was hard to miss. The dominant fashion for the event was weekend casual ripped jeans but then not everyone was on camera that day.
“I knew from a very young age I wanted to get into the entertainment industry,” said Dagher. “I always listen to my intuition,” she added.
Dagher holds a Bachelor degree in filmmaking from the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts and is currently mastering in Film Directing at the Lebanese University, Furn el Chebbek.
“My dream was pretty simple. I wanted to go into film to preserve a moment and then be able to share it with others,” Dagher told Annahar.
From classics of the 1940s to the works of Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Ang Lee, Alfred Hitchcock, Francois Truffaut and Guiomo Del Toro, Dagher reports being a fan of many directors and genres of movies, ranging from love stories to mysteries, action, and thrillers.
For Dagher, films are not just visuals on a screen but, images and scripts she has memorized from front to back. From the very first shot to the very last one, each scene, and all dialogues, Dagher can repeat them back in trivia contest fashion, if prompted.
Songs also express much of the young storyteller’s heart as she loves to sing, especially hits from the standards. To demonstrate, with a raspy-nightingale voice, she swings into the perennial hit “Fly me to the Moon.”
She is also just as likely to do an impromptu cover of Blondie’s “Rapture.”
On the personal level, Dagher's memories are highly individualized; but like many Lebanese, are also generalized of a paradise lost. She often thinks of the gardens and plantations that at one time defined her village Zalka.
Those of the generation before her have much the same memories of a village that quickly began to change after the war, transforming from olive and lemon trees into apartment blocks and offices.
“I remember each image and sound in Zalka,” said Dagher who moved from the village in her early teens. “Unfortunately, now after 12 years everything has changed; our home is no longer there, and instead are tall buildings.”
“I grew up in a house with a lush garden,” said Dagher.
As modern media began to change and the immediacy of formats, such as YouTube, arose, it became possible to create “instant films.” Like with blogging, a mutation from Weblog; the term vlogging has thoroughly entered the vernacular as an evolution of Videoblog starting a decade ago.
This had become the creative standard by the time Dagher started her early attempts at creating films.
The creative line from film to vlogs was a short one, and the young artist started placing brief films onto YouTube and her projects changed quickly.
“When I started posting videos on YouTube, I started with my short films,” said Dagher. “Later I decided that I wanted to create something more engaging with the audience.”
During her three years at ALBA, Dagher was exposed to the techniques of creating reportages, vox pops, and talk shows. It was then that she discovered she has a talent for content creation and the art of hosting.
“It was after finishing my BA, I kept on thinking what I wanted to do next, what my next challenge will be,” Dagher told Annahar. “I love making movies but right now I don’t have the money to create a feature film, I must deal with reality.”
A key inspiration for embarking on vlogging was attending a religious event.
“The organizer was someone from my family, so he asked me if I could do reportage of the event with some interviews,” said Dagher. “At first, I was a little bit afraid; it was a new challenge for me.”
This event marked the beginning of Mia Dagher’s vlogging journey. She started covering one event after the other trying not to miss any.
“I think it has been almost a year since I started covering events and posting them on social media,” she said. “When you learn how to vlog, you discover how to give people a more personal experience.”
She brings certain production finesse to her vlogs, which are more than the common smart-phone postings of a chatty narrator – as they use quick cutting montages, interviews, along with a certain stardust quality that is a trademark.
Amid all this, Dagher is still an avid student of filmmaking and feature-length storytelling, and she would like to aim high and work in all mediums from vlogs to films.
For her, the sky is the limit. And there are stories waiting to be told.
Get ready - Lights, Camera, Action!
Annahar's "Faces of Lebanon" is an occasional series that takes a look at talented young Lebanese. We encourage you nominating candidates and telling us their story. Send your nominations to:firstname.lastname@example.org
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