Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Summer Full of Light Bulbs

So I quit my job early. It was June already and I had to go to Jordan for my brother's graduation. Besides, it had been over a year and a half since I had woken up to that cool morning breeze that carries with it the fresh scent of Amman's five a.m.
I needed to get away from that corporate prison on the 49th floor of downtown LA. I told my boss to pull the plug. Let me go. Set me free. Fire my ass! I am ready to take that leap of faith, and jump into student life again. And I'll do it early with great pleasure as I would finally have the summer off to think, to prepare, and to rev my writing engines.

Here I am exactly two months later, and I've done a million productive things that make June seem like ten years ago.

The biggest accomplishment has been writing a major screenplay that I will keep private for now, but I hope the whole world will see it on a silver screen in a couple of years. It has something to do with sitting under a tree. It's a movie that links all the social classes we have in Amman. Laith and I started this idea on a napkin one afternoon while sitting at the Cheesecake Factory. We developed a concept, and from that point on, I spent five to six hours every morning at Starbucks writing away and obsessing about this movie's universe.

Also very exciting, was my trip to Amman where I made two shorts films, "Suffi Suffi" (Pak the Car) and "Crossroads".

You know, ideas come to us all the time. Making movies is simply figuring out how to approach communicating them, then actually putting together a game plan to execute.
for example, Suffi Suffi came about when I went to lunch with the folks at the Royal Film Commission. Pheadra (who ended up acting in the movie) was driving and all the guys in the car were suggesting how she should drive. Then when she was about to park, all the guys volunteered their opinions. And here I sat watching and remembering the million times I'd seen this happen in Amman, guys telling girls how to park. So I told them we have to make a movie out of this situation. A few days later I brought my camera over and gathered the group. I mapped out certain things on a whiteboard, then we all improvised the rest. It also helped that my brother brought his hilarious friend, Nadim Mshahwar, over. Everyone involved did a brilliant job with their own contribution.

Crossroads was a great experience also because it was a very sincere script written by Lina based on her story, and I really wanted to make a good dramatic Jordanian short without quirky comedy or Hollywood-style suspense. Working with non-actors was a great experience because I think Arabic (Jordanian especially) lends itself to natural delivery. Performances came across as very genuine and real.

Also, it was an amazing experience to have the screenings of ten of my films at the Royal Film Commission.

I got to read a couple of novels and a stack of film books. Watched a lot of old and foreign films.

I hope this blog wasn't too long. I ramble on sometimes, but the bottom line is that in two months you can get a million things done. And you can shave your head to prove it. Whatever that means.


Blogger Natasha said...

First of all Na3eeman. Second, what's so special about the Cheese cake factory? I went to one here in MD last weekned after hearing so much about it and I really couldn't find anything special. What did I miss?

3:24 AM  
Blogger Basbooos said...

Amin, Its good to hear that your summer went so well. I loved the short films u made and looking forward to see more, i felt very homesick after watching them.

Natasha, its strange that you didnt like it, because its one of these places that has the biggest variety of food and everything there is really good. You can't go wrong with the cheescake factory.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Two words: Cashew chiken! But replace half the dish with shrimp for variety. You will be addicted to the factory of cheese and cakes.

6:40 AM  
Blogger jameed said...

Amin, sorry to hijack you commenting system for personal issues but...

Natasha, hassa3 basalik! just try something as simple as fettucini with chicken and sun-dried tomatoes (my fav) then go from there...shoo malik inti?

8:33 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

NAtasha, how dare you put down Cheese Cake Factory :)

And Iyas, It looks like we share something very special. Tat dish is my favorite too. I always order it then I just pick from everyone elses plate to try different things. So I have to agree with everyone here an say that the factory rocks.

Amin, your short films are great. especially suffi suffi because even though ive never been to jordan, i still experience the exact same thing among my jordanian relatives. Never was there a time that passed by when I am driving and parking and my father, brothers or male cousins but in and tell me how to park.

Keep up the great work. We will all be cheering you and Laith when you guys win your oscars one day!

11:03 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Thanks Linda. Suffi Suffi is about Middle Eastern sexual politics as much as anything else, I suppose.

I guess I'll have to try the fetuccini/chicken dish for a change. By the way, I'm no fan of cheesecake. It's too dense for my taste. But if you're gonna get a slice, I would recommend the Snickers one.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Laith said...

manta you are addicted to chocolate i abu gar3a...akeed bit7ob il snickers even if it came between two slices of sourdough....the cashew chicken and the one i always order ( which i cant remember its name) may be the reason we go into history i amin ;)
i wish cello didn't eat half that napkin

10:25 PM  
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10:40 PM  

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