Meet Naima Abed

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A film producer whose portfolio includes the Oscar-winning “Call Me By Your Name,” Naima Abed’s work week is a meticulous balance of creativity and business. A raw passion for film is an integral part of her excellence as a producer. Here, Naima comments on the value of feedback, finding community, and personalized health and beauty routines.
Top, Pleats Please ; Pants, Vintage
Dress: And Other Stories, Sandals:    And Other Stories

Dress: And Other Stories, Sandals: And Other Stories


The alarm rings at 7:30 am, but I always hit snooze. I hug my boyfriend and say good morning. We have similar hours so it's a little moment to spend together. Then I'll read emails, news, trade press, and instagram while he showers. If I work from home, I start working immediately and eat breakfast in front of my screen. If I'm in the office, I get ready very fast and grab breakfast on the way. 

on growing up and finding her interests

I'm a 2nd/3rd-gen Algerian born in France. I grew up in the Paris “banlieue” until I was 17 when I moved to Lille to study at Sciences Po. It was a bit of a shock leaving my hood to finding a school where there were four students of color, including myself, in a year of 150 students. After graduating, I was determined to work in film, just by sheer passion and obsession, and I interned for a year before landing my first job at an international sales agent. I learned about international independent film, went to festivals, and met great people. 

on becoming a film producer

It was a bit of luck and hard work. I never stopped, and said yes to everything. I figured pretty quickly that development and producing were what I wanted to do: a mix of creative work and business sense. I found that taking low-risk projects and passion projects early on by helping people do short films or anything smaller gives some sense of success and is essential to not depleting your reserves. You learn every time! 

The job is to make things happen and nurture creativity and enthusiasm. It took me a while to hone those skills, especially the business stuff, but there's no shortcut. In film, nothing is ever granted. Projects can fall apart, and there's a lot of people to keep happy before yourself, i.e. talent, financiers, crew. You have to be ready that your needs come last, and stay very patient and combative. 

Trench, Yang Li Men ; T-Shirt, Vintage ; Choker, Vintage YSL ; Pants, Sonia Rykiel
One big epiphany is accepting some help. Delegating is not easy, but my job is constant information flux. To take some distance, you need to rely on help for the basics. I have a notebook, and I set general goals each day. I take notes on every meeting or conversation, but I mostly work with great people who take their share and brainstorm with me.
— on making the job easier
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on her time working on "call me by your name"

It was an incredible experience. Luca is a great director and his crew is wonderful. The set was relaxed and intimate, almost too good to be true. Timothee's performance was incredible to see. I had never been so involved in something so special. I guess people feel this when they watch the film. It was made with a lot of love and generosity. It's not manipulative. One of the best memories was the first screening in Sundance. We had no idea how people would react, and it was so overwhelming. I remember turning back and seeing the crowd in tears. 

some advice for breaking into the industry

I think you need great persistence. Producing can be a lonely place, and it's hinging on many factors. You're not in control, so it's a balancing act. Take as much observation work as you can. Find female producers who inspire you and ask questions. Establish core goals and values to keep you together. Build community. Surround yourself with peers, identify like-minded individuals your age early on. Much of the pleasure in the job is teamwork, and it's important to know there are people whom you admire, have fun with, and you can rely on. 

how young filmmakers can fundraise for their film

It is getting harder and harder. It's hard for me to give advice, but it is to write the best script possible and have a precise vision because attention span is small. Use all the talent labs and mentoring you can because I don't know anyone who is a formed genius on their first film. Everyone benefits from feedback, especially if it's in a benevolent environment. Another option is to go totally guerrilla and let your work be your calling card. 


Robe: A shop in Mumbai

Robe: A shop in Mumbai

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I have an obsession with correspondence. We often have a cliche in our minds about Anais Nin and Henry Miller. They are quite scandalous, and to have “passion” in the title is also misleading. I think reading a correspondence that spans decades between two persons, who sometimes live together and sometimes don’t, whose relationship doesn’t fall into conventional social status is extremely enlightening. Relationships between humans are often complex. The give a sense of equality in a relationship. It’s a dialogue, not an accident. It’s something that’s given to each other.
— on her favorite books
Dress: And Other Stories, Sandals:    And Other Stories

Dress: And Other Stories, Sandals: And Other Stories

on her self-care routines

I've got a good support system. I practice yoga at Triyoga studio three times a week, often on my lunch break or after work. I do all sorts of yoga-like alternate active practice with more restorative ones. Sometimes when I have extra cash, I do workshops on the weekend or attend a yoga retreat by myself. 

on her beauty routine

I live in a big, polluted city, and my skin is very dry. The damp climate does not agree with my system. For skincare I use Bioderma Micelle Solution for removing makeup. Then I wash my face with Jurlique Foam, then Charcoal Dermalogica Exfoliant and Daily Superfoliant. I also use the Skincare Hydrating Mask that I leave on overnight. In the morning, I clean my face and use Kiehl's face cream and SPF 50. For makeup, I use a bit of Touche Eclat YSL and either Kohl, Milani Lip Gloss, or bold lip. I like Mac Red Russian and Diva shades. I started using Glossier recently - boy brow, cloud paint in dusk, and haloscope.

on her haircare routine

Haircare is much more delicate. African hair needs a lot of TLC. My hair is very dry. I wash it once a week with Dev Curl No Poo Shampoo. I then use the leave-in Conditioner from Ouidad and untangle my hair under the shower with a wide dented comb. I let the hair dry naturally, use a little bit of Dev Curl Hair Gel, and then some oil to finish. I use hair masks regularly as well, but change every so often. I do also oil masks. My hair likes olive oil, almond oil, and avocado oil, but sometimes coconut oil. I would oil my hair in the evening, braid it, and sleep with a silk head scarf to keep the moisture in. For haircare, I only go to specialized salons for Afro and mixed-textured hair. They always have good tips on styling and new products. 

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naima's favorite books

A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller by Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, Women in Dark Times by Jacqueline Rose, This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

naima's favorite movies

Wanda (dir. Barbara Loden), The Piano (dir. Jane Campion), Ma nuit chez Maud (dir. Éric Rohmer), 2001: A Space Odyssey (dir. Stanley Kubrick)

naima's favorite records

Bonnie "Prince" Billy

naima's favorite places in london

Best brunch: Bühler and Co
Best bar: Biddle Bros, Lower Clapton Rd. It's a real neighbourhood bar, no fancy cocktails; it's perfect for late nights. 
Shop: Foyles on Charing Cross Rd, Pages on Lower Clapton Rd. 
Museum: Tate Modern, V&A
Park: Springfield Park in Stamford Hill
Hair Salon: Charlotte Mensah in Notting Hill specializes in Afro hair. In LA and NY, I go to Ouidad salons, specialized in curly hair. 
Massages: Acumedic, the Chinese clinic on Camden High Street for head massages, acupuncture, and teas
Alternative Therapies: Triyoga, which has a very good list of treatments. I'm currently doing bodytalk sessions there. 
Food: I'm using a delivery service for groceries (Ocado) and Hello Fresh from time to time. I keep organic but this is the best system I've come up with especially since my appetite has doubled while pregnant.
Movies: I go to the local theatre in Walthamstow. They do special £5 Tuesday nights. I also use Mubi.  

Shirt: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Sunglasses:    Moscot

Shirt: Jean-Paul Gaultier, Sunglasses: Moscot