Sunday, September 23, 2007

Jordan and Captain Abu Raed in Variety

So I get my Sunday edition of Variety, the leading journal for Hollywood and the entertainment business, and there's a picture of Abu Raed and the kids at the front of the Film page. We made it into Variety!!! This a milestone. I remember when I first got mentioned in Jordan's newspaper Al-Rai, how exciting it was. But now, Variety. This is very nice. Although they did manage to misspell my name somewhere along the way. They called me Amin Mutalqa.

Here it is:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A morning with Gabriel

I just got back from Paris where I got to spend a morning with one of my favorite composers in the world, Gabriel Yared. There are only a handful of film composers who have an original voice and aren't hacks or thieves. Gabriel Yared is one of them. He is the master behind scores like The English Patient, City of Angels, Cold Mountain, Autumn in New York, and countless European films that people in America haven't heard of. I grew up listening to his music, walking the streets with my headphones pluggin reality from my ears, allowing the rich notes to sweep me away to a different place, often in the clouds. Gabriel Yared has been a huge influence in my life the past ten years. And now I got to meet him at his home in Paris.

He took me around and showed me his studio where he sat at the piano and played me some of my favorite melodies. Oh what an inspiration. What a treasured moment in time. He showed me his process. His daily routine. The man wakes up and studies Bach and the great masters every morning. He sits and reads books of musical notation just like people read books of words. He sits reading scores, studying notes, hearing them in his head. I am blown away. At 58, after such accomplishments, he still sees himself as a student. These are my heroes. I hope to see myself as a student until the day I die. And then he spends his afternoon improvising and creating.

I left his place full of inspiration and desire to learn more. To study and to absorb. I have decided that I know nothing. I know so little that I know very close to nothing. And I have so much to learn.

So I left his place that morning full of desire to begin reading literature again. Educating Amin from books. If only I could learn by eating. I would then eat all the books at Barnes and Nobles.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The fun part

It took us about a month to edit the 120 scenes in the film. Then we refined them and started deleting unnecessary and redundant moments. We tested the film in its various stages on small groups of audiences to get their feedback. What works and what doesn't. Just like writing, you need to step away from the work for a little bit so you can return to it with a fresh perspective. It's been a really fun and low-stress process. It's very fulfilling to see the movie getting the types of reactions it's getting. Now we approach the next phase of refining the film. We'll screen it to a larger audience in a theatre and get their feedback. What works, what doesn't. It's important to keep in mind that you will never please everyone because everybody has a different sensibility, yet it's hard sometimes to look at something objectively when you've been so deeply sunk into it.

We have temporary music placed throughout the film and the next phase will be to start working on the score and the sound mix. Half of the audience's experience watching a film is influenced through what they hear. Sound is such an under-appreciated element in film. Through ambiance, sound effects, foley (recreated sound), and music you can affect tempo, tone, and the entire realism or surrealism of the film. And this will be really fun. Using sound to enhance the film experience and take it to the next level.

I don't sleep anymore because I can't stop thinking about the moment this film will play to audiences in the theatre. I wonder how it will affect them. How will it be different than what they experience with the typical Hollywood film? Will it be something that will inspire someone and affect their life like so many movies affected mine when I was a kid. I can't wait for that moment. I think this is why I make movies.