Bisagna Suh and Nabil Abdulkadir of 4421 Productions discuss the city’s film and creative culture, and what continues to inspire them as filmmakers in D.C.
Creative pair Bisagna Suh and Nabil Abdulkadir started their D.C.-based production company 4421 Productions to highlight the region’s people and narratives that illustrate life beyond the halls of the White House.
The Maryland natives met while working at Sony Music, jobs that led them to every corner of the city and helped foster their passion for the District.
“This is our home,” Suh says. “I don’t think I would be an artist if I wasn’t from this area. It’s so important to us that [D.C. is integrated into] our work and we give back to this community.”
As leaders in the local film industry, they’ve taken the time to nourish their network in the city’s creative community.
“We [lean] into our connections,” she says. “When we meet someone in film, we grab coffee or lunch. We ask how we can invest in them.
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They admit the film scene in D.C. can be a little sparse and isn’t the easiest to navigate, though. The city is brimming with poets, painters, musicians and actors but not as many filmmakers.
“Transparently, it’s hard shooting here,” Abdulkadir says. “There aren’t many studios, and it’s hard to find places to rent equipment. You can’t fly drones; you need a lot of permits. It’s cheaper to film in places like Los Angeles and New York.”
But despite these hurdles, the pair wouldn’t want to pursue film careers anywhere else.
“The community has been beautiful to us,” Suh says. “When we ask for support, people come through.”
Suh and Abdulkadir are first generation Cameroonian American and Ethiopian American, respectively. They prioritize working with DMV natives who are fellow people of color — a value reflected in one of their latest projects, the short film “Imani,” which boasts a crew and cast that’s 95% BIPOC.
The film is what Suh describes as an “everyday story” about a young creative hustling to make ends meet in D.C. In the film, tensions boil over with the protagonist’s wealthy older brother, highlighting themes of family and gentrification.
“We wanted to tell a normal story of a Black person living in D.C.,” Suh says. “A lot of D.C. stories are about the transplant narrative or ‘House of Cards.’ We wanted to talk about people who are from here — what our friends go through.”
Suh and Abdulkadir are stewards of the city’s film scene, telling important stories about D.C. locals and cultivating community every step of the way. Keep an eye on 4421 Productions for what’s next.
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Favorite place to shoot.
Union Market and inside Metro stops because of the architecture.
Night owl or early bird.
Suh is a night owl and Abulkadir is an early bird.
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