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Making an indie film is never easy, but sometimes it almost comes naturally. And for writer-director Jameel Khan, while filmmaking wasn’t exactly his first choice, comedy is like breathing.

“I was in business school in Indiana, and I hated it,” says Khan of how he got into film. “But I always liked doing comedy, so I went to Columbia College Chicago, because I wanted to write comedy. I didn’t know anything else to do.”

And yet in his film debut, The Strip, Khan has managed to meld business and comedy into one seamless film. The Strip follows the lives of five Electri-City employees as they try to sell low-end electronics in a strip mall just outside of Chicago.

First, there’s Glenn (Dave Foley of “The Kids in the Hall” fame), the store manager who means well but has no ambition in life other than to motivate his employees through the type of team building exercises that make company retreats unbearable. Then there’s Kyle who feels trapped by the expectation that he will take his father’s place in running the Electri-City “empire.” Rick wants to be an actor, but still lives with his mom, while Jeff revels in slackerdom and, after a bad break-up, ends up living out of his van. Finally, there’s Avi, a Pakistani immigrant who is all ready to go through with his arranged marriage, until he finds out just how beautiful his intended wife is. As their stories weave into the tapestry of the film, these five must reevaluate both their friendships and their dreams.

The film took about four years from writing to distribution, and one of the hardest things about making any film is always getting the financial backing. But for Khan, who didn’t want to risk other people’s money, the initial funding to get the process started was provided entirely by himself and his family through the creation of their own independent production company, Bata Films. But with no recognizable name behind the scenes, you still have to pull all your strings to get things done.

While most of the actors in The Strip were already friends from doing improv comedy with Khan in Chicago, it was bringing Foley on board that really got the ball rolling.

“Dave Foley, we just sent him an offer and hoped,” says Khan. “As a first time director, you can’t get anyone, but Dave liked the script and wanted to work, and that let us get a couple of other pieces. Once you signed his name, it made you a little more legit to other actors.”

According to Foley, while it wasn’t laugh-out-loud funny, it was really the strength of Khan’s script that drew him in.

“It’s not a very jokey script. It’s very low-key, about characters. There’s not really a whole lot of plot in the movie, it’s more that there’s this group of people and how their lives affect each other,” says Foley.

While Foley is right in calling it a low-key comedy, Khan’s subtlety does come through on screen in a Little Miss Sunshine-esque way. The film might not be overtly funny in the typical brash, American way, but its characters seem to move in a space that allows them to grow while still showcasing the comedy in their everyday lives.

“He really knew what he was doing,” says Foley of Khan. “For a first-time director, he had a clear sense of what he wanted and how he wanted to shoot things. He had everyone’s confidence.”

While Khan may have had a good idea of how to get the shots he wanted, he also tried to test out some of his material in a rather unlikely place: on set.

“My main goal constantly was trying to get the crew to laugh,” says Khan. “They’re not supposed to laugh, so if you get them to laugh, it’s probably going to be funny on screen.”

So while The Strip and Bata Films is finally making it in the indie film world, Khan has some words of wisdom for aspiring filmmakers.

“Be prepared to give up a lot of sleep and a lot of time,” says Khan encouragingly. “You have to really love to do it because everyone else is willing to put in so much time, so talent alone is not going to do it for you. But if you want to do it, you can do it.”