When I look back, I recall starting working on the props/storyboard/lists...etc 8 months before. However all these preparations proved very useful, immensely facilitating our project, and enabling us to film all the footage in 6 days, and finishing the editing of the visuals in 7 days, working 14 hours a day. Now I have a 54-minute film, waiting to be unmuted with the sounds I will continue editing during my stay in Seoul, starting next week. And it is my best ever film!
It wasn't difficult to find the other materials I needed. I would like to thank to fantastic boys of Traffic for facilitating everything for us to work in a chilled and easy environment. Nilo, their spiritual business father, arranged everything so well that all the time there is Ali, Sherwin or Jose, as well as Amal available to travel with us to supply what material we need.
We also borrowed a kitten from the veterinary clinic for the film, does this not sound surreal?! We said "We want to borrow a cat for our film"; then they asked "What kind of cat?" I replied "What do you mean?" They offered a variety of characters, saying "calm, or aggressive, such and such..." Wow, amazing, just like a cat casting agency! We brought our false-victorian bird cage, and tried different cats one by one and chose a little kitten who was happy to be inside the cage, finding it homely. (Anything happened at that vet was so unusual) We named him 'Boy' and did not at all realise how much we were gonna attach to him, sending him back with tears...
I allocated different group of scenes with different settings to 6 days of a week. The first 3 days were the most difficult days of filming. As labouring and harvesting have always been the most prominent activities in my films, it was no different this time. In the middle of the desert, under 35 degrees, we all shoveled sand, shoveled earth, shoveled gravels, carried massive rocks, filled the chest, then emptied, then filled it back again; which ceaselessly refers and reminds us the construction of Dubai.
The first day was the cat and quad bike scenes together. We came across our first warning at the formerly old tv tower, and new shiny cycle track. Apparently it belongs to the Engineer's Office of Sheikh Muhammed, and our permission from the filming commission was not adequate. They were really nice however, letting us to complete our filming there, without fining us. I owe to Rami and his amazing skills of chilled out communication. It was such a spectacular view: Ghulam interacting with the kitten, I'm so glad it's a big part of the film.
Second and third days were allocated to the chest scenes. These were the days of precarious tall ladder shots. We survived; but had to sacrifice an aluminum rod from Ben's rig that we borrowed. I spent the rest of the week in shame and lack of days-worth sleep; he was so cool about it all. How can there be such a person!!?
Younes, a great guy who has produced fantastic projects visited us in the desert almost every evening. I should thank him for unintentionally introducing us with the location that has the best looking pylons, which we utilised in most of the water extraction scenes. And Ali fed us with delicious Biryanis in the middle of desert every single lunch time. In amongst all the craziness, I also did a pecha kucha night on the 23rd of February; on a short history of metaphysics and substance, as a supporting material for the film. I was first afraid of having to bore people to snore, I've got quite lovely feedback instead! That was a relief! I might attach some frames from the presentation here actually..
The last two days of shooting was at the wasteland near traffic. We filmed the indoor-tent scenes; which also involved the acting of 40 mackerels ! (which we barbequed on the following day) The 5th day was rather a stressful day; it was hotter than usual, we were invaded by thousands of flies, Ghulam hated the fish smell in the tent, reluctant to go in, Tom and I started to argue after having worked peacefully until then. Boy the kitten was the most chilled out of all of us, reminding me of Rami so much!.
We finished filming one day earlier than planned; it was quite celebratory. My panicky character enabled us to have a day off; as we finished a day earlier. We immediately started editing with the hateful Final Cut X. I don't think I ever hated any software as much as I did from this hobby editing program which is slightly better than iMovie. Anyways, everything eventually went well, and I now have an exciting 54 minute film, edited and colour corrected.
In the last week, Tom and I have collected plenty of sounds from around Al Quoz factories. (Special thanks to David for lending us his adorable Zoom h4n sound recorder) I feel very very slightly naive for working with windtowers or beautiful historical artefacts of Dubai last year, whereas I now believe what makes Dubai Dubai is its current industrial state, its builders and factories. It has been such a great experience to be based in Al Quoz, sound hunting at midnights, to share the secret production sounds and alien landscapes of the area, when everyone else is peacefully sleeping on the other side of the city. I feel so special to witness those moments of fascination and unfamiliarity despite the friendliness of people working there. I slightly felt disappointed with my life, found it so ordinary; whereas probably factory workers consider the same for their lives. The headphones and the sound recorder took me to a parallel universe heightening my experience of the outer world, with an inner experience. I now hear sounds in a different way; I really listen.
Couple of days ago we have given a welding workshop with Tom in return for borrowing Tashkeel's tripod. We had 4 brilliant students. I had such a good time working outdoors at Tashkeel again...Ahhhh good old days....
|Dinner with lovely new residents of Bastakiya and Aaron. What a familiar scene, I should have the exact same photo like at my old residency blog|
|Magician Charlie at Rami's kids' birthday in Safa park|
|Looks like a David Shrigley work, so cute!|
|From the welding workshop at Tashkeel. They were some talented students!|